Oral History Association
2021 Annual Meeting
October 13-17, Cincinnati, OH
Submission deadline: March 1, 2021.
The Oral History Association invites proposals for papers and presentations for its 2021 annual meeting to be held October 13-17, 2021.
For this conference, we invite you to reflect on the idea of movement in expansive terms from the geographical to the technological to the political. In 2020 we saw sudden and massive shifts in how we move physically around the world. Many of us moved much less. At the same time, we saw rapid changes in social and cultural life and an effervescence of social movements.
Oral History has become an international movement in historical research. Our practice has long been used to document the movement(s) of people and of ideas. And at the heart of our work, we are midwives to meaning making in the processes of remembering. We move memories from the past to the present to promote their reverberations in the future then back again; embracing the cyclicality, disruptions, and constructions of time.
The 2021 conference highlights the many ways that oral history moves stories, ideas and memories. The Program Committee is interested in proposals that consider how stories move through generations, communities, and geographies; what stories get told about periods of movement, transition and stillness; stories of migration and transition across time, space, bodies, and difference; how the movement of memory shapes the stories groups of people tell about themselves; the movement of oral history across disciplines, mediums, identities, borders, and cultures; and how oral history utilizes the movement of narratives towards transformative social change. We are also interested in how oral history is used to document these movements.
In its indigenous origin, oral history has long been understood as an embodied practice: as memory transmitted from one body to another. The Program Committee is interested in proposals that consider how our field might expand understanding of our work to include digital bodies. How might we reframe our interviews to include a virtual meeting of two bodies? How might we use the virtual realm in our encounters with narrators to access different kinds of memories? What are the ethical and political stakes of live vs virtual encounters?
Conversely, how can we access more physical expressions of memory beyond the colonial archive? What might an embodied archive that encourages alternative forms of engagement with the stories we collect look like? How might we shift and reimagine new modalities that move the conversation into the public forum and back into the hands of the communities from which they emerge? These questions speak to a broad intersection of subject areas, from gentrification to migration studies, queer studies, postcolonial theory, disability studies to performance studies. However, the Program Committee welcomes broad and creative interpretations of the conference theme!
The conference was originally planned to take place in Cincinnati, Ohio. We cannot yet determine if it will be possible for us to gather in Cincinnati in some way, but what we do know is that this will be a conference with significant remote elements. We do, however, invite proposals for local in-person “satellite” gatherings around the world, whether for social and networking events, conference watch parties, or in-person sessions. Please see appendix below for a list of next year’s conference session formats.
We invite you to consider innovative ways to deliver engaging and interactive online and in-person events. Sessions that involve movement through real or virtual space: walk-and-roll-arounds, dine-ins, audio guided runs, virtual cook-ins, skill-shares, performances, and network meet-ups are some of the possibilities that we envision but we look forward to the expansion of our vision by all of your creative submissions.
In addition, we welcome proposals from the various communities that carry out oral history work – academics, independent scholars, activists, librarians, museum curators, web designers, teachers, community historians, documentary film producers, artists, creative writers, ethnographers, public historians, and others whose work relates to this year’s conference theme. As the field of oral history itself has moved and transformed over the years, we invite submissions from those who are taking it in new directions, forging new paths, and questioning old ones. We invite critiques of the field and forays into its futurity. Where are we going and how do we get there?
We hope to have a significant international presence at the meeting and particularly welcome proposals that highlight oral history work outside the United States. If accepted, international presenters may apply for registration waivers, made available by the OHA in support of international presentations. Registration waivers are also available for accepted presenters and others who attend the meeting.