2019 OHA Biennial Conference reports

Speaker delivers keynote address

Professor Katrina Srigley of Nipissing University, Canada, delivers the conference’s keynote address.

In 2019, we offered four grants of up to $750 to OHV members presenting a paper at the 2019 Oral History Australia Biennial Conference in Brisbane, 10-13 October 2019. At least one of those had to be awarded to a student member.

Those grants were awarded to: Geraldine Fela, Naomi Frost, Annabelle Baldwin and Katherine Sheedy. A condition of the grant was to provide a conference report.

Here are their conference reflections:

Katherine Sheedy (together with her colleague Lucy Bracey)

The recent Oral History Australia Conference in Brisbane was a wonderful opportunity to connect with fellow oral historians from a range of different backgrounds and professions. With an action-packed program and three concurrent streams, it was a challenge to decide where to go over the two days of the conference.

The welcome reception at the Queensland Maritime Museum was a great way to relax and get to know the other delegates alongside the beautiful Brisbane River. This set the scene for the conference, which had a friendly and welcoming feel. The keynote address given by Dr Katrina Srigley from Nipissing University in Canada set the scene and established what emerged as a theme for the whole conference – doing history with ethics of love. The articulation of what many of us do unconsciously, especially when we are practicing oral history, was a great take-away for us and something that we will definitely be keeping front and centre of our future practice.

A great number of papers were presented on a wide and interesting array of topics. It was impossible to get to every session, but of those we saw, highlights included: Geraldine Fela’s paper analysing interviews from nurses on the HIV/AIDS crisis and highlighting the complex and geographically diversity of responses; Shirleene Robinson’s discussion about the challenges of interviewing as an insider and campaigner for marriage equality immediately after the referendum; Annabelle Baldwin on her work looking at filmed interviews with Holocaust survivors and how body language can be just as informative, if not more so, than the oral recording; and Francesco Ricatti reflecting on his role and responsibilities as a white man interviewing women.

Since the conference was hosted in the State Library of Queensland, we also managed to squeeze in a quick look at the latest exhibition, ‘Meet me at the Paragon’, which explores the history of Greek cafes in Queensland.

It was a whirlwind few days and we must thank and congratulate the organisers, Oral History Queensland and Oral History Australia, for putting together such a full and diverse program. We hope that many of the papers presented make it into the next issue of the Oral History Australia Journal so that we can catch up on what we missed!

The only downside for us was, coming from a long, cold winter in Melbourne, we had hoped for an early taste of summer, but in an ironic turn of events, Brisbane that weekend was actually colder then Melbourne!

Geraldine Fela

The Oral History Australia Conference in Brisbane this year was a great experience. I am half way through my PhD so am pretty new to oral history. Oral history sometimes falls a little by the wayside in general history conferences so it was refreshing and exciting to be immersed in the discipline and to hear about the fascinating projects happening all over the country.

In particular, I thought the strong theme running throughout the conference of indigenous languages and oral history was excellent. Of course oral history has always been political but this was an great example of centring history from below.

In each session I went to the discussions were really dynamic and there were great conversations between academic and community historians.

Congratulations to the organisers for such a fantastic conference and thank you to Oral History Victoria for providing me with the conference bursary so that I was able to attend.

Naomi Frost

Thanks to the generous bursary provided by Oral History Victoria, I had the opportunity to attend and present my paper at the 2019 Oral History Australia Conference in Brisbane last month (October 2019). As the first oral history conference that I have had the opportunity to attend, I was immediately taken aback by how welcoming, friendly and encouraging this oral history community was, especially towards a graduate student. This was also the first time that I had the chance to hear academic and community oral historians, librarians, archivists, curators and artists, just to name a few, in conversation with one another as part of the same session. This diversity among delegates, as well as the diversity of their interests and research in the field of oral history made this conference truly unique in my experience. One thing that I found particularly moving was that this diverse community, regardless of how they came to find themselves practicing oral history, were united by their passion for hearing other peoples’ stories. Perhaps this why, more so than any other conference I have attended, I noticed the audience engage with speakers, and speakers engage with one another in such deeply meaningful and constructive ways. Thank you to Oral History Australia for an incredibly insightful, inspiring and constructive conference, and to Oral History Victoria for making my attendance possible.

Oral History Australia – New awards announced

Oral History Australia – New awards announced

Oral History Australia is very excited to announce two new national awards for oral historians:

  • the Oral History Australia Book Award, and
  • the Oral History Australia Media Award.

Applications close on the 31st of December. For more information please visit the OHA website: https://www.oralhistoryaustralia.org.au/article/oha-new-awards-announced

Image courtesy of State Library of Victoria, Victoria Audience stands for national anthem, State Rivers and Water Supply Commission, 1951.