Constructing urban memories: the role of oral testimony
7th European Urban History Association Conference: Athens-Piraeus, 27-30 October 2004
Announcement particularly for H-Urban, H-Oral,
Oral testimony is one of the most valuable but challenging sources for the study of urban history in the 20th and 21st centuries. It allows us to access knowledge and experience that is both unavailable to historians of earlier periods, and inaccessible through contemporary documentary sources. It can offer insights and perspectives that enhance and sometimes force us to re-examine ‘official’ histories, and our own approaches to urban historical research. And it enables us to understand something of the nature of memory itself - of how people construct their own versions of the urban experience, and try to ‘make sense’ of the past.
The collection of oral testimony involves more than simply putting a microphone in front of someone and inviting them to ‘talk.’ Analysis of the testimony itself needs to be informed by an understanding of the class, gender and cultural factors that may distort or liberate individual ‘voices’ during the interview process.
A major session of the 7th European Urban History Conference in Athens will be devoted to oral histories of the city, and the organisers invite paper proposals on issues such as:
the role of oral testimony in challenging or revealing urban ‘myths’
the construction of cognitive maps of the city
personal and communal responses to managed urban change (such as slum clearance schemes or neighbourhood regeneration programmes)
the impact of new migration on perceptions of the city and interpretations of its past history
methodological issues in the collection and interpretation of oral testimony for urban historical research
Proposals from younger scholars are particularly welcome, and for doctoral candidates there is a limited number of bursaries available to cover the registration fee for the conference.
If you wish to present a paper please send a 1 page proposal to the session organisers (address below), by 1 October 2003.
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