Call for Papers: Oral History and Life Stories Network of the European Social Science History Conference, Valencia 2016

23 Feb 2015

Broadly, we want to encourage papers that explore 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 contributions that address the following key issues in method: 

Different approaches to questions and question design

  • Interview relations (intersubjectivity as a dynamic interaction and building trust), this could include ‘remembering for the future’ and how awareness of potential reuse may shape interview encounters
  • Life stories and the position and subjectivity of the researcher
  • Analytical approaches to “truth”, remembering and the parameters of gaps and silences in narratives (told and untold topics)
  • Visuality: the interrelation between verbal and non-verbal in the interview or life story
  • The limits or parameters of interpretation and reuse
  • Ethics of consent

We are also specifically interested in papers on the following topics:

  • Environment, including climate change
  • Post-repression narratives including narratives of migration
  • Negotiating the private and the public in memory, including globalisation and the continuation of traditions
  • Subaltern voices: life narratives ‘from below’
  • Turning life stories and oral histories into public history

Finally, we welcome papers exploring the ‘future of the past‘; that might include the contribution of innovative contributions in archiving, curation, sharing authority and teaching to the future of oral history and life stories research.

Please note that our Network is often oversubscribed. If this is the case for the Valencia 2016 conference, the Network chairs will select in the first instance those abstracts that meet the themes highlighted in the call for papers. We will also only consider proposals that draw substantially on oral history and/or life story methods (and are research based). We will also prioritise papers that are of high quality, and/or innovative in argument or method.

Please note that proposals must be uploaded with required online registration NO LATER than May 1, 2015. Please also read the ESSHC guidelines at on proposing and presenting papers.

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 (as in 2014) consider the merits of papers individually.

Our Network does not favour discussants; so that 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.

2016 Network Chairs:

Anne Heimo

Graham Smith

Andrea Strutz