Your browser (Internet Explorer 7 or lower) is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites. Learn how to update your browser.


2018 Call for Papers


Oral History in Our Challenging Times

2018 OHA Annual Meeting
October 10-14, 2018
Concordia University
Montreal, Quebec, Canada


The Oral History Association invites proposals for papers and presentations for its 2018 annual meeting and the second meeting outside the United States to be held at Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

As oral historians we explore and analyze how our interviews are shaped by the current climate and context that surrounds us when we record our stories.  We also believe that contemporary conversations can and will shape our annual meeting.  Events in the past year have reaffirmed OHA’s commitment to actively cultivating our organization as a space to fight inequality.  As oral historians and as members of OHA we “remain committed to documenting personal narratives of complex and diverse histories” and have reaffirmed our fundamental values of respect, empowerment, diversity, engagement, and inclusion.  We continue our long-time commitment to the development of projects, the creation of annual meeting panels, published works, and artistic expressions that bring to the forefront global stories that “might not be included in the historical record.”  (For more see OHA’s Statement on Diversity and Inclusion). This has also led us to advocate for an ever broadening range of methods of storytelling and presentation. Social difference often emerges in the context of the interview itself: young interviewing old, women interviewing men, outsiders interviewing members of a community or culture, just to name a few. We imagine the 2018 annual meeting to harness the power of oral history these challenging times.

Montreal, Quebec, Canada provides an exciting location to focus on and highlight all the innovative and exciting oral history work taking place in the Americas and, especially, in Montreal itself.  Because Montreal is culturally and linguistically an international city it makes an ideal place to engage in oral history conversations about our role in a global context and build conversations between the United States, Latin America, and Canada. Our host institution, Concordia’s Center for Oral History and Digital Storytelling, has its strengths in the intersection of oral history and performance, place-based storytelling, visual arts, and participatory media.  We want conference presenters and attendees to see and experience the neighborhoods and communities where Montreal’s oral and public history work takes place.  We hope the site of the conference and the work of local oral historians will inspire our members and others to propose sessions that engage in oral history with a creative and artistic approach.

Moreover, it’s fitting that fifty years after “the year of protest” we should gather in a global city like Montreal.  Massive demonstrations took place in Paris, Poland, the United States, Mexico, and other major cities around the world in 1968.  Quebec too saw its own protests that year.  Students, workers, and young people worldwide spoke out against capitalism, consumerism, for free speech, against dictatorships, for student rights and affordable tuition, for civil rights, and against the Vietnam War. In the spirit of 1968, we encourage proposals that use oral history and storytelling to illuminate these protests or other movements for social change across the globe from the 1960s to today.

The Program Committee welcomes broad and creative interpretations of the conference theme.  We especially encourage presenters to think about innovative delivery models including dramatic performance, interactive sessions, and the use of digital media.  In addition, we welcome proposals from the diverse communities that carry out oral history work – academics, independent scholars, activists, librarians, museum curators, web designers, teachers, community historians, documentary film producers, artists, creative writers, ethnographers, public historians, and others whose work relates to this year’s conference theme.

We hope to have a significant international presence at the meeting and particularly welcome proposals that highlight oral history work in the Americas outside the United States. If accepted, international presenters may apply for partial scholarships, made available by OHA in support of international presentations. Small scholarships are also available for accepted presenters and others who attend the meeting.

Concordia University is one of two Anglophone universities in Montreal and, as such, English is the primary language of instruction and communication. English will also be the primary language of OHA 2018. To honor Montreal’s bi-cultural heritage, however, and to give a space for oral history scholars from across the Americas, we are happy to take some proposals in French, Spanish and Portuguese. Either consecutive or simultaneous interpretation will be provided for a limited number of presentations.


Proposal format:

The online proposal site is now closed at OHA 2018. The proposal deadline was January 31, 2018.

Proposal Queries may be directed to:

Steve Estes, 2018 Program Co-chair
Sonoma State University, email:  ude.a1638540620monos1638540620@sets1638540620e.eve1638540620ts1638540620

Amy Starecheski, 2018 Program Co-chair
Columbia University Oral History MA Program, email: ude.a1638540620ibmul1638540620oc@931638540620saa1638540620

Natalie Fousekis, 2017-2018 OHA Vice-President
Lawrence de Graaf Center for Oral and Public History, email: ude.n1638540620otrel1638540620luf@s1638540620ikesu1638540620ofn1638540620


Session types and descriptions for 2018 Annual Meeting:

Individual Paper

A 10-15 minute presentation to be combined with other papers to form a panel of 3-4 papers.

Facilitated Discussion

Open, facilitated conversation with audience members around a question or issue in oral history. Those proposing a facilitated conversation should explain their topic, propose at least two facilitators for the session, and explain how the session will be facilitated.

Listening Session

2-3 researchers share longer excerpts from their interviews (up to 30 minutes of audio total), and then generate a conversation with the audience.  This is a chance for audience and researcher to discuss the ethical, interpretive, or pragmatic issues that arise in the interviews and for researchers to get feedback on their interviewing method, or to engage in shared interpretation with colleagues of thorny or complex issues. Proposal should describe how session will be facilitated.


2-3 workshop leaders share knowledge and expertise about a particular oral history tool, technology, technique, lesson plan, or software in a short “how to” session. Proposal should clearly explain plan for interactive session and what participants can expect to learn.


3-4 speakers present papers, 10-20 minutes each. Includes a chair and may include a commentator (The chair/commentator can be the same person.)


An aesthetic or artistic production involving two or more persons. Includes a chair and may include a commentator.


3-6 speakers make 5-10 minute introductory remarks and engage in a discussion with each other and the audience. Includes a chair.


For more information, contact:

Kris McCusker, Co-Director, or Faith Bagley, Program Associate