Call For Papers – Oral History and Life Stories Network of the European Social Science History Conference

13th European Social Science History Conference (ESSHC) at Leiden University, Netherlands, 18 to 21, March 2020

In recent decades oral history has stabilized its’ place in and beyond academia to the point, that it has been questioned if oral history has lost its radical roots? Also, the rise of the Internet and social media demands that we reflect on our work according to methodological questions and maybe new challenges in that context. Do the voiceless still need us to give them voice? Broadly, we want to encourage papers that explore methodological questions and challenges as well as the relationship between oral histories and the construction and analysis of life stories, both in terms of processes and outcomes. This, for example, might include the conceptual use and reuse of both oral histories and life stories in research, and/or considerations of the methods involved in both. We would encourage proposals that attempt to cross the oral history/life history divide (bringing the two research communities together).

We invite in particular contributions that address the following themes and issues:

– Oral history then and now: What is oral history today? What has changed/not changed over the years? What are the theoretical and methodological challenges of oral history today?
– Who is working with oral history and in what ways? What are the themes of oral history today? Whose memories are collected, analysed and archived?
– What are the impacts of the digitalization process on oral history materials and on doing oral history?
– Reusing and revisiting (archived) oral history materials – why, what are the challenges, what are the benefits?
– Oral history in and beyond the academia – is there a return to oral history’s “radical roots” and/or in which fields and communities is oral history used today?
– How does doing oral history differ in different countries and cultures?
– Relations of oral history to other fields (e.g. memory studies, social sciences, ethnology, anthropology)
– Reflections on combining oral history and life story methods – what has changed and what is new?
– Teaching oral history – experiences, challenges, teaching concepts
– Legal issues in oral history
– Ethical problems and reflections including the question of speaking for “the voiceless” and/or letting them speak for themselves

In addition to classic sessions consisting of individual papers, other kinds of presentations and sessions are also possible, for example “Meet the Author”-sessions (in which several experts comment on a recent and important book, after which the author responds), round table sessions (in which several experts discuss the same topic rather than present research results) or a film, introduced by the maker or an expert and afterwards discussed with the audience.

While we welcome proposals for panels these must be international in membership (and from different institutions), and each of their constituent papers must be of a high quality. The over-riding criterion for selection is strength of papers; if a proposed panel is not strong enough en bloc, the organisers will consider the merits of papers individually.

Our Network does not favour discussants; if a panel proposal includes a discussant it should indicate why they wish to follow this format (and that if they do, the panel must comprise a maximum of four speakers plus a discussant). Sessions can have a maximum of five papers.

The deadline for the required pre-registration of a paper or session proposal at the ESSHC-website is 15 April 2019.

Contact Info:
2020 Oral History and Life Stories Network Chairs of the ESSHC:
Anne Heimo, University of Turku, Finland,
Andrea Strutz, LBI for Research on Consequences of War / University of Graz, Austria,
Malin Thor Tureby, University of Linköping, Sweden,

Contact Email:


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