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Blog: European Social Science History Conference

Post by Leslie McCartney, International Committee Web Liaison

I attended the European Social Science History Conference (10th Edition) held in the beautiful city of Vienna in Austria from April 23-26, 2014.  The ESSHC conference is organized by the International Institute of Social History, an institute of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.  The aim of the ESSHC is to bring together scholars who explain historical phenomena using the methods of social sciences.  The conference is composed of small group exchanges rather than formal plenary sessions.  The conference had over 2,000 attendees and sessions revolved around 27 networks (in alphabetical order:  Africa; Antiquity; Asia; Criminal Justice; Culture; Economics; Education and Childhood; Elites; Ethnicity and Migration; Family and Demography; Health and Environment; Labour; Latin America; Material and Consumer Culture; Middle Ages; Oral History; Politics, Citizenship and Nations; Religion; Rural; Sexuality; Social Inequality; Spatial and Digital History; Technology; Theory; Urban; Women and Gender; and World History).

The rigor, breadth and depth of the over 50 papers presented in the Oral History Network was certainly impressive and thought provoking.  Oral History Network organizers Timothy Asplant (Liverpool John Moores University), Graham Smith Holloway, University of London) and Andrea Stutz (University of Graz) excellent selection of papers and organization was clearly evident.  Discussion at the network meeting included revisiting the Oral History Network’s purpose which was originally Oral History and Life Stories.   Over the years the life stories component has waned and it was agreed that it should be included again to speak to a larger audience.

In several sessions discussions ensued about the ethics and issues that arise from making oral history interviews available on the Internet.  The Belfast Project/Boston College case was another topic that was raised and in light of today’s news about the arrest of Gerry Adams as a result of information revealed in the Belfast Project interviews, it proves that this case raises many ethical considerations for oral historians.

The conference is held every two years and it was announced in the general meeting held on Thursday, April 24 that the next ESSHC will be held in Valencia, Spain in 2016.  I would encourage anyone engaged in oral history research to present a paper and attend the next conference.

For more information about the ESSHC, please visit:  https://esshc.socialhistory.org/.  The program of the conference can be downloaded in a pdf document at: https://esshc.socialhistory.org/sites/esshc.socialhistory.org/files/docs/esshc_2014_vienna_programme_book.pdf

 

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