Face to Face
Oral History Meetings
Oral History in the 21st Century: Voices of Identity in a Globalised World
Conference of the National Oral History Association of New Zealand, 2-3 April, Rotorua, NZ
The theme of the conference was designed to reflect the changes that individuals and communities are facing in an increasingly globalized world, and had two main streams – indigenous voices and identity and change.
Some of the speakers discussed how Maori, Aboriginal and Pacific Island peoples have used oral history to rediscover and assert their cultures and identities, while others reflected on changes in identity using the lenses of social movements, local history and individuals’ life experiences.
Lorina Barker from the University of New England in Australia was the first keynote speaker. She has been combining family and community history by using oral history interviews to seek to understand the history of her home place, Weilmoringle in northern New South Wales. Lorina wants to present her findings in ways which are culturally appropriate and relevant to the members of her family and her community. She demonstrated how she uses a journal to record her thoughts and ideas as she is recording the interviews, and showed how she often presents the material from the interviews as free verse. She also showed a brief film about her father and uncles which she has made as part of her research.
In the second keynote address, Teresia Teaiwa, who teaches at Victoria University of Wellington, spoke on research where she has been collecting oral history interviews from three generations of Fijian women who have served either in the British Army or the Fiji Military Forces. She reminded us how important it is to convey the role of the interviewer when such research is being written up because, as she put it, her narrators’ analysis and her own analysis were in conversation during the interviews. Teresia explained how she found it difficult to do this until she realised that she wanted to write not ‘about’ or ‘for’, but ‘to’ the women she interviewed. She then read from her work and showed how she had contextualised the women’s lives in the events of the times about which they spoke, and analysed what they were saying – and what they were not saying – by using the ‘you’ form in presenting the material. It is a very vivid and immediate way of presenting oral history material, and one which reflects the intimacy of the original interview.
Both speakers inspired the conference attendees with ideas about how they might present their own research in future.
All the presentations, which combined reports of projects and analysis of material, were thought-provoking and interesting. We are looking forward to publishing some of them in Oral History in New Zealand, the association’s annual journal.
I Seminar on Oral History in Health – Federal University of São Paulo (UNIFESP)
The Study Group on Oral History and Health (GEHOS) from the Centre for History and Philosophy of Health Sciences (CeHFi), Federal University of São Paulo (UNIFESP), Brazil, has held its first Seminar on Oral History in Health on 25 November 2010. This meeting was aimed at researchers, teachers and students interested in qualitative research methods for health studies. Amongst those present were specialist researchers from various parts of the country who are involved in the use of oral history, as well as the GEHOS members of CeHFi-UNIFESP. The concept of oral history, already widely recognised in the area of humanities, is now starting to be applied with great success in the field of health, as publications in Latin America and Europe have demonstrated. This consists of qualitative research based on people’s narratives. In the field of health studies, this research can also be seen in a more humane approach to the relationship between professionals and their patients.
More information about the Study Group on Oral History and Health can be found at the website:
Dante Marcello Claramonte Gallian
Center for History and Philosophy of Health Sciences (CeHFi)
Federal University of São Paulo/Paulista School of Medicine (EPM-UNIFESP)
Rua Botucatu 720, Edificio Leitao da Cunha, 1st Floor
The Historical Museum of EPM (Escola Paulista de Medicina)
Phones: 55-11-55764258 and 55-11-55497584
From Page to Mouth
Oral History Projects