Memory and Narrative
Call for Proposals:
Evidence and Testimony in Life Story Narratives
The Memory and Narrative series, currently published by Transaction (based at Rutgers University), emerged from the highly acclaimed International Yearbook for Oral History and Life Stories. To date, the series comprises 14 volumes, constituting an interdisciplinary forum that stimulates debate on a wide range of theoretical and methodological issues relating to memory and narrative.
The editors of the series invite proposals for contributions to an upcoming volume, entitled, Evidence and Testimony in Life Story Narratives. Many life stories are produced from a testimonial impulse, to claim justice in relation to past events and to transmit historical knowledge to those without similar experiences or born later into future generations – generating a sense of virtual or secondary memory. Of course, the juridical aims of testimony, based on the narration of historical evidence, must negotiate the way that memory mediates past events, as well as the way that testimony itself is mediated generically and by the contexts in which it is given and received. While oral historians place emphasis on the narrator’s interpretive agency, the conception of the testimonial act as collaborative and dialogic – in the relation between narrator and interviewer, and narrative production and reception – illuminates the processes of mediation and agency. What, though, of recent methodological and theoretical approaches to the construction of testimony, across different disciplines and fields of enquiry? For example, what might the debates in trauma studies, staged over the last 15-20 years, on the cultural, social and historical status of witnessing and the witness contribute to the study of testimony? How has legal theory and practice, particularly in relation to Human Rights, reparation and ‘truth and reconciliation’, negotiated the construction of the past? What role do literary studies play in the consideration of testimonial literature? These sample questions suggest the need to reconsider the meaning of ‘evidence’ and ‘testimony’ in a transdisciplinary manner, perhaps in order to move beyond the givens of mediation and construction.
We invite contributions discussing conceptual and methodological issues related to memory, evidence, and testimony, based on oral sources and/or personal accounts. We look forward to receiving proposals that are theoretical, but also work that deals in a more empirical way with the questions posed here.
We would welcome contributions addressing any of the following issues:
- Formal components of narrative and their relationship to truth-telling and truth value;
- Past silences, how to study testimonies through time;
- Theory and methodology related to the construction of testimony;
- Humor/irony as an implicit way of telling the story;
- Why oral history matters;
- Digitalization/archiving oral history; the rights of interviewees;
- Contrasting traditional oral history and audiovisual oral history;
- Truth in oral history: whose perspective determines the truth;
- Eyewitness narratives and transitional justice;
- Rethinking personal history through narratives, the deliberate construction of the account;
- The influence of cultural constructions of identity on the life story narrative;
- Comparing interviews over time;
- Disseminating oral history: oral history in documentaries, exhibitions and on the internet;
- The media’s use of oral sources;
- Using and re-using archived oral history data
Please send a 500 word abstract, along with a short C.V., to the editors of this proposed volume, Nanci Adler (N.Adler@niod.knaw.nl) and Selma Leydesdorff (email@example.com), no later than June 1, 2010. Contributors chosen on the basis of their abstracts will be asked to submit essays (approximately 6,000 words) by January 15, 2011.
Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any further questions.
Prof. dr. S. Leydesdorff (S.Leijdesdorff@uva.nl)
Prof. A. Lichtblau (Albert.Lichtblau@sbg.ac.at)
Dr. R. Crownshaw (R.Crownshaw@gold.ac.uk)
Dr. N. Adler (N.Adler@Niod.knaw.nl)
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