“Oral History in (post)socialist societies”
3–5 November 2005, Freiburg/Breisgau, Germany
Oral History provides a valuable and unique contribution to the investigation of societies in the former socialist states – before and after the collapse of communism. Although many researchers now work with biographical interviews (e.g. on Czechoslovakia, the German Democratic Republic, the Soviet Union, Bulgaria and Yugoslavia), there has been only limited international exchange on the methods, aims and results of Oral History concerning the analysis of socialist societies in Europe until 1989/91.
The conference offers a platform for the discussion of methods, content and research strategies and aims to consolidate (first) results.
The following issues will be focussed:
What can we learn from Oral History interviews about the functioning of socialist societies (with reference to social relations, networks, gender relations, family structures, alternative cultures, etc.)?
What do interviews reveal about the non-functioning and final implosion of socialist societies?
How are collective and individual identities constructed in narrative interviews (beyond the changes due to political transition)?
Which forms of biographical communication and narrative tradition were characteristic in socialist societies? What role did national or regional narrative cultures play? Can they be distinguished from ‘socialist’ biographical patterns of communication?
What role did – and do – oral narratives play in the memory culture of socialist and post-socialist societies? In how far has ‘transition’ altered collective memory?
Which methods do we use in conducting, evaluating and interpreting interviews? What can we conclude from recent results in neurology, memory research, discourse analysis and other fields, in relation to Oral History interviews?
How can Eastern European History contribute to the further development of methods relevant to Oral History?
The conference programme will consist of four to five sections, each with three to four speakers and one discussant. The conference languages will be German and English. Mutual translation will be provided. Since we would like to allow plenty of time for discussion, the presentations should not extend beyond 30 minutes.
The conference will be held in the Haus Wiesneck conference centre in the beautiful surroundings of Freiburg/Breisgau, not far from the Himmelreich train station. The tranquil location will allow us to fully concentrate on our work, and also offers the possibility for outdoor relaxation. There will be enough time after the conference for a short trip to Freiburg.
Please send a paper proposal (maximum one page) no later than 25 March 2005.
Presentations should clarify the theoretical basis of research as well as the methodological approach. Both should be included in the proposal.
The papers will be published in a conference volume.
Dr. Julia Obertreis
Lehrstuhl fuer Neuere und Osteuropaeische Geschichte
Tel.: +49-(0)761 / 203-3441
Fax: +49-(0)761 / 203-9190
Dr. des. Anke Stephan
Abteilung fuer Geschichte Ost- und Suedosteuropas
Tel.: +49-(0)89 / 2180-1486
Fax: +49-(0)89 / 2180-5656
Please send your paper proposal to:
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