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2019 OHV Symposium
June 16, 2019 @ 10:00 am - 3:30 pm
About the symposium
THEME – Oral history interviewing: old & new challenges
Interviewing is at the core of oral history, and much has been written and debated about the challenges that oral historians face when interviewing their informants. In a rapidly changing and globalising world dominated by new media and technologies, these challenges become even more complex. Yet they also open new opportunities for oral historians to make their work heard through podcasts and social media and beyond.
Come along and hear presenters discuss some of the emerging issues in this space including:
- the differences and similarities between journalism and oral history interviewing
- narrators’ roles in the interviewing process
- oral history and public visibility.
We will also be holding a session where members of the audience will be invited to share their own interviewing challenges in conversation with OHV President Francesco Ricatti and the symposium’s speakers.
10 am – Welcome by OHV President Francesco Ricatti and Acknowledgement of Country
10.15am – Session 1: Journalism and oral history interviewing
- Judy Hughes, Hold the front page: Journalism and oral history practice combining to break new ground
- Claudia Craig, Journalism, and oral history interviewing – intersections and divergence in the documentary podcast space
11.15am – Session 2: Narrators’ roles in the interviewing process
- Jodie Boyd, Reflections from the other side of the microphone: the narrator’s role in the afterlife of academic oral history interviews
- Geraldine Fela, ‘I still feel passionate about it now’: Challenging narrators in oral history research
12.15pm – Lunch break
1pm – Lightning presentations
- Neville D Yeomans, Oral histories from medical immigrants: Some issues of objectivity
- Jessica Ferrari, Video interviewing at a ‘live’ event for digital and social media release
1.15pm – Session 3: Oral history and public visibility: old and new challenges
- Mia Martin Hobbs, (Un)Naming: Ethics, agency and anonymity in oral histories with veterans
- Jen Rose, Performers as informers: Featuring artists in an organisational digital history of The Boîte.
2.15 pm – Afternoon tea (short break)
2.30pm – Concluding session
- People from the audience will be invited to share their own interview challenges, in conversation with OHV President Francesco Ricatti and the symposium’s speakers.
3.30pm – Symposium ends
Bookings for this event are now open. Go to Eventbrite to reserve your place.
Please note that:
- Lunch and afternoon tea will be provided at this event.
- The discounted OHV member rate is only available to current members. You may be asked for proof of membership or concession status on the day of the symposium. Regional OHV members are eligible for the concession rate.
- OHV reserves the right to cancel this event in the case of unforeseen circumstances, in which case a full refund will be made.
Hold the front page: Journalism and oral history practice combining to break new ground
Journalism is often referred to as the ‘first draft of history’, yet journalists and historians have long considered themselves very different. Journalists are known for being focused on the here-and-now while historians pride themselves on a longer, more contextualised view. With changes in technology, convergence in publishing platforms, a diminishing, but increasingly academically-qualified journalist workforce, some of those differences are starting to blur. In the area of oral history, the growing similarities are quite striking. So how do journalists and oral historians intersect in their interviewing practices and what can they learn from each other?
Judy Hughes is a journalist and communications professional by background who is currently working as a consulting historian with a particular interest in video oral history interviewing and multimedia presentations.
Journalism and oral history interviewing – intersections and divergence in the documentary podcast space
This case-study presentation discusses questions of oral history interviewing in the documentary podcast space. It explores how journalistic interviewing may overlap as well as differ from traditional oral history interviewing, and the issues this poses in the interview room and beyond in terms of editing, crafting of ‘story’, copyright and publication. It also shares the challenges of a non-Indigenous oral historian working in the Indigenous space, highlighting the importance of trust and acceptance, Indigenous cultural protocols and guidelines, consents, respect and communication, and the interviewer’s legal and ethical responsibilities to the Indigenous community and individuals whose story and history are being recorded.
Claudia Craig is a journalist, first-time podcast maker and cultural studies Masters graduate exploring the history the First XI 1868 Australian Aboriginal cricket team.
Reflections from the other side of the microphone: the narrator’s role in the afterlife of academic oral history interviews
In a 2013 publication, oral historian Sherna Gluck admitted that she “will never know how or even if [her] interviews impacted on” her narrators. This paper attempts to offer some insight into this relatively unexplored terrain of the narrator’s experience of academic oral history projects once the microphones and recorder have been packed away. In addressing this question of the narrator’s apparent exclusion from the afterlife of the interview, I claim both a critical space for the narrator but also offer an evolving reflection on the ambivalent power of the institution and, unexpectedly, on the continuing power of heterocentric and silencing discourses.
Jodie Boyd is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Urban Research at RMIT University.
‘I still feel passionate about it now’: Challenging narrators in oral history research
Katherine Borland argues that as oral historians our ‘responsibility to our living sources becomes most acute’ when our own interpretation of the narrative differs significantly from that of our interviewee. My research examines the role of nurses in Australia’s HIV and AIDS crisis. Some of these nurses played complicated roles in the crisis, some restricted and managed the lives of HIV positive people in ways that are ethically and politically challenging. Though some nurses reflected critically on the role that they played, others expressed a sense of pride and passion for their work. Reflecting on one such interview, this paper will consider the challenges involved in telling stories that might not only conflict with our interviewee’s interpretation of their past but also challenge their perceptions of themselves, their profession and their role in historic events.
Geraldine Fela is a PhD Candidate at Monash University researching the role of nurses in Australia’s HIV and AIDS crisis.
NEVILLE D YEOMANS
Oral Histories from Medical Immigrants: Some Issues of Objectivity (5 minute ‘lightning’ presentation)
To practise medicine in Australia, overseas-trained doctors need to pass through several hurdles to demonstrate their competence to perform in an Australian context. While taking oral histories from those who are having difficulty passing the assessments, I have been conscious that other motives for their participation often arise. Because I have examined in the licensing exams, and because of my present position in a Faculty of Medicine, it emerges that some participants hope that I may be able to favorably influence some part of the outcome for them. The presentation will discuss the issues for objectivity that factors such as this can pose.
Neville Yeomans is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Medicine at University of Melbourne, and is enrolled in a PhD on the history of Australia’s medical immigrants.
Video interviewing at a ‘live’ event for digital and social media release (5 minute ‘lightning’ presentation)
ReCollection, a participative local history instalment took place during the two-day event as part of the 2017 Melbourne Fringe Festival. It received a commendation at the 2018 Victorian Community History Awards presented by Public Record Office Victoria and the Royal Historical Society of Victoria. The project used photo-elicitation and reminiscence therapy techniques to assist event attendees to connect with their memories of the area. A purpose-built ReCollection Recorder allowed locals to add their own stories to the collection. The presentation will explore on the advantages and challenges of interviewing in ‘live’ conditions and the impacts of digital and social media distribution on the interview process and final narrative.
Jessica Ferrari is a documentary filmmaker, storyteller and the founder of Memento Media, a creative industry start-up that empowers people to save life’s stories.
MIA MARTIN HOBBS
(Un)Naming: Ethics, Agency, and Anonymity in Oral Histories with Veterans
In this paper I explore how the (un)naming of interviewees, particularly interviewees who are veterans, is tethered to broader ethical dilemmas in the practice of oral history. I argue that because being named is one of the reasons that many interviewees volunteer for oral history projects, (un)naming interviewees changes the conditions of the interview process. Drawing on my doctoral fieldwork with Vietnam veterans, I examine the problem of naming in context of two common subjects from my interviews – memory debates and war crimes – and show that the ethical dilemmas of (un)naming are connected to broader tensions underpinning oral history practice.
Mia Martin Hobbs completed her PhD, an oral history with veterans who returned to Vietnam after the war, at the University of Melbourne in 2018.
Performers as informers: featuring artists in an organisational digital history of The Boîte.
When promotion and profile are key to the success of a musicians’ career, how might the prospect of being featured on a digital platform impact upon the nature of an interview with an artist? When websites have been used for promotional purposes for so long, what does the medium invoke and how does the ultra-public nature of a digital platform impact on the choices made by the historian, the organisation and the artists through the oral history development process. Jen will discuss some of these questions, drawing on her experience in developing a digital history with multicultural music organisation, The Boîte.
Jen Rose is a historian who, with the support of a PROV Community History Grant, has been developing a digital history of Melbourne’s iconic multicultural music organisation The Boite, to celebrate their 40th year.