The 19th International Oral History Association Conference will be held in India for the first time, co-hosted by the International Oral History Association (IOHA) and Oral History Association of India at the Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Bengaluru. This is also the first time that this conference will be held in Asia.
The International Oral History Association was constituted at Göteborg in 1996 as a professional, bilingual (English and Spanish) collective with the aim of documenting human experience through oral history and providing a forum for oral historians around the world. The Oral History Association of India is a smaller body of professional oral historians, founded in 2013 in Bengaluru.
The field of oral history is relatively new in India, but has gained recognition in North America, UK, Australia, South Africa, Latin America and parts of Europe. The practice of oral history places an emphasis on the voices of individuals and their lived experiences. In India, a multitude of oral traditions shape the culture of orality, story-telling and memory, folk and performing arts. Oral history or the recorded interview which focuses on life stories and people’s experiences takes on many narrative forms throwing up new questions that could redefine the field itself.
Although there are a number of Indian scholars who have contributed to the field and whose works are widely respected across the world, no Indian university currently has an oral history department. This conference is therefore, especially significant. The conference, which will have research presented in both English and Spanish, will provide young professionals an opportunity to enhance their skills, receive
training, and gain exposure to the work of an international community of oral historians through masterclasses, talks, panel discussions and public events.
More than 150 oral history practitioners from across the world will be taking part in the conference, including academics, community workers, archivists, filmmakers and students. In addition to participants from India and neighbouring countries, conference participants will be arriving to Bengaluru from countries as diverse as East Timor, Nigeria and Iceland. USA, UK, Spain, Czech Republic, Germany,
China are well represented, as are several Latin American countries such as Argentina and Brazil.
Panelists at public sessions include well-established and reputed academics from the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain and India. Speakers include Urvashi Butalia, co-founder and CEO of Zubaan; Robert Perks, Lead Curator of Oral History & Director of National Life Stories at the British Library;; oral historian Sean Field; former IOHA president Miroslav Vanek; Historian Emeritus of the United States Senate, Donald A. Ritchie, Gabriel Medrano de Luna, professor of social sciences at the University of Guanajato; Michael Frisch oral/public historian; and Indira Chowdhury, Director of the Centre for Public History, at the Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology.
The conference keynote will be presented by Meghna Guhathakurta, the executive director of Research Initiatives, Bangladesh (RIB) on June 27, 2016. She will speak on “The persistence of memories and the radicalization of action: oral history in transformation in Bangladesh”. Her speech will be followed by a shadow puppet performance: “Stories in the Shadows: A Tolu Bommalata Performance” by the Shinde Anjaneyulu family (India), curated by the Antara Arts Collective (India).
Members of the press are invited to attend the inauguration ceremony of the conference on June 27, 2016, beginning at 5:00 p.m. at Chowdiah Memorial Hall.
Public Events during the conference:
Tuesday, June 28, 2016
5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Choksi Hall, Indian Institute of Science
Panel Discussion: “What happens when oral history goes public?: oral history archives online”
Speakers: Urvashi Butalia (India), Tamara Kennelly (USA), Anjali Monteiro & KP Jayasankar (India),
Robert Perks (UK) and Venkat Srinivasan (India/USA)
Chaired by Robert Perks (UK)
Wednesday, June 29, 2016
4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
National Centre for Biological Sciences
Panel Discussion: “Shifting Perspectives: Oral History and the Memory of Disaster”
Speakers: Rama Lakshmi (India), Mark Cave (USA), Thomas Doig (Australia) and Mary Marshall Clarke (on
Chair: Don Ritchie (USA)
Thursday, June 30, 2016
4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
National Gallery of Modern Art, Bangalore
Panel Discussion: “Postcolonial Oral Histories”
Speakers: Sean Field (South Africa), Heather Goodall (Australia) and Pramod Srivastava (India)
Chair: Paige Raibmon (Canada)
Concert and Conversation: “Says Kabir, Listen Seekers!” by Shabnam Virmani (India) of the Kabir Project
Friday, July 1, 2016
9:30 am – 1:00 pm
Canadian International School
Film screening: “The Walnut Tree” by Ammar Aziz (Pakistan)
Closing Plenary: “The Dialogue between Oral History and History: Convergences and Divergences”
Speakers: Shahid Amin (India), Martha Norkunas (USA), Alessandro Portelli (Italy, via Skype) and Yogesh
Raj (Nepal), Gabriel Medrano de Luna (Mexico)
Chair: Pilar Dominguez (Spain)