SHARING AUTHORITY: Building Community-University Alliances through Oral History, Digital Storytelling and Collaboration
A Bilingual (English/French) International Conference Workshop
Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Conference 7-10 February 2008
Deadline for Proposals: October 5, 2007
Please send a one-page abstract of your proposal and curriculum vitae to the chair of the organizing committee: Steven High, Canada Research Chair in Public History (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Historian Michael Frisch coined the phrase "shared authority" in 1990 to describe the dialogical nature of the oral interview. The interaction between the researcher asking questions and the community narrator providing answers results in a unique source. At its best, sharing authority is about much more than speaking to new audiences; it requires the cultivation of trust, the development of collaborative relationships, and shared decision-making. It cannot be rushed.
Yet sharing authority has become something of a mantra in oral and public history circles in recent years. It is sometimes said that the promise of extending this idea outward from the interview toward a more broadly based democratic practice has generated enthusiasm but few concrete results. The proposed conference, and a special issue of the Journal of Canadian Studies that will come out of the conference, will test this assertion.
It is our belief that the desire to democratize historical "writing" (broadly defined) has animated a growing number of people, both inside and outside university-settings. The 1970s, for example, saw the birth of the "history workshop" in Great Britain, the "écomusée" movement in France, and community oral history projects in the United States. The "new museumology", "movement history" and "progressive public history" also emerged at this time. But what has happened since? Despite the growth of funding for collaborative research, there has been remarkably little discussion of the public's place in the
research process: how, when, and should, authority be shared between university-based researchers and "community" members. What role does the "public" (in all its variations) play in our research? How successful have collaborative research projects been thus far?
In what ways have new digital technologies (blogs, digital memory banks, and "Web 2.0" user communities such as YouTube or Flickr) been used to bridge divides? How might we "share authority" in the history classroom? Can the local, national and transnational communities we study become true partners in research?
Proposals are invited from a broad range of university researchers, community organizations, educators, oral historians, public historians, and others that are building research alliances that bridge the university-community divide. We want to initiate a conversation about sharing authority. What can past practice teach us? What are the possibilities and pitfalls in "sharing authority"? Can history become a catalyst for social change and community building? How has the digital revolution helped to democratize and expand the collaborative process? A wide variety of proposals for individual papers, round table discussions, and other kinds of presentations are welcome.
Sponsored by the Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling at Concordia University and the Life Stories CURA Research Group (Life Stories of Montrealers Displaced by War, Genocide and Other Human Rights Abuses) which includes 40 researchers and community co-applicants, including 18 community groups in the Montreal area. For more on us, see:
Canada Research Chair in Public History
Department of History
1455 de Maisonneuve Blvd W.
Montreal, QC, CANADA, H3G 1M8
Phone: (514)848-2424 x 2413
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