Past Events

Oral History Conference, Guwahati | 13-14 Nov 2017

The Oral History Association of India is pleased to announce its third Oral History Conference on 13th and 14th November, 2017 in collaboration with the Department of History, Gauhati University.

“Public Memory and Oral History”

Venue: Gauhati University Campus, Guwahati, Assam, India 

The Oral History Association of India and the Department of History, Gauhati University hosted a National Conference on Public Memory and Oral History  at Gauhati University, Guwahati, Assam (India) on November 13-14, 2017.

The theme of the conference addressed the growing interest in the study of the relationship between public memory and oral history. The ways in which individuals and societies choose to remember, or forget, moments and events in history through ‘sites’ of public memory such as memorials, museums, monuments, films and public speeches, is often highly contested. The narration of the past, the preservation and loss of collective memories is clearly a matter of ideology and power which has implications for contemporary issues such as ethnicity, class, gender and religion. Oral history as a subject and technique interprets how memory affects impressions of the past. If traditional history is produced by those in power, oral history by contrast can be seen as repository of knowledge for ‘people without history’. No memory is possible outside the frameworks used by people living in society to determine and retrieve their recollection. As a product of social change, public memory looks beyond the State to understand how individual perspectives in history build collective memory focusing on the broader cultural meanings of oral history narratives.

 Sub – themes:

  • Oral History and Cultural Heritage
  • Oral History, Museums and Archives
  • Oral History and Public Events
  • Public Memory and Verbal Arts
  • Media and Memory
  • Memory and Migration
  • Memory, Nation and Identity
  • Memory, Urban Spaces and Cultures
  • Natural Disaster and Public Narratives
  • Voices of Collective Remembering
  • Oral History and Environment


International Oral History Association Conference 2016

The International Oral History Association (IOHA) along with the Oral History Association of India(OHAI) organised the XIXth International Oral History Conference at the Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Bengaluru, India from 27th June to 1st July 2016.

The theme of the conference was “Speaking, Listening, Interpreting: the critical engagements of Oral History” and the discussions at the conference were around the following themes:

  • Oral History’s relationship to Anthropology
  • Oral history, Memory and Literary Studies
  • Engaging with History
  • Women’s History and Oral history
  • Oral Narratives and Legal Studies
  • Oral History, Community Life and Critiques of Development
  • Oral Narratives of Caste and Communities
  • Traditions, Folklore and History
  • Oral History in the Archives
  • Oral History, Gender, Politics and Oral Narratives
  • Orality, Memory and History
  • Oral History of Science


The inaugural OHAI Conference, Bangalore | 18th-19th November 2013

Bangalore, a city in the southern India and known for being the IT hub of the country, hosted the first Oral History Association of India Conference on Nov 18 and 19 2013. The conference was titled ‘Oral History in Our Times’ and it became an inaugural event for OHAI, which was founded as a professional organisation on May 14, 2013.  Presently, the organisation has 40 members, and has plans to expand its reach in terms of its academic, research and archival resources. It was encouraging to see the widespread participation of over fifty researchers and practitioners of oral history from across India.

The first president of the association, Dr Pramod Srivastava, professor and head of history department at Lucknow University, welcomed the delegates and gave the inaugural address, which traced the history of the association in India. The well-known oral historians, Alessandro Portelli from Italy and Miroslav Vanek from Czech Republic – who is the former President of the International Oral History Association, also participated in the conference.

The two day sessions were marked by individual paper presentations, plenary sessions, public lectures and musical performances on important issues relating to oral history. Theoretical analysis went hand in hand with case studies, which included video presentations made by OH practitioners. While shortage of time was felt in almost all the presentations, there was no lack of discussions through interactive sessions.

The first day’s session on “Gender and Oral History began” began with the presentation by Sarmistha Dutta Gupta from Kolkata on ‘Anecdotes and Gendered Histories of Politics’. The other presentations in this section came from Malathi Ramanathan, Mumbai, whose focus was ‘Relevance of Oral History to Research on Gender’; Saraubh Mishra from Lucknow who looked at the district court of Lucknow to bring out the experiences of women in the legal profession; and Jyothsna Latha Belliappa and Sanchia de Souza both from Bangalore whose paper was on Anglo-Indian women school teachers in India. The second session on ‘Archiving Oral History’ began with the presentation ‘Towards a large scale collection and automatic annotation of personal oral histories’ by Dr Soma Paul who had co-authored the paper with Kishore Prahllad and Deepa Elluru. Dr Lye Soo Choon, a member of the National Archives of Singapore also presented a paper on ‘Oral History in Archives’ Perspective’.

Dr Miroslav Vanek, K. Lalita, Dr. Kathinka Sinha-Kerkhoff, Dr. Suroopa Mukherjee and Dr. Pramod Srivastava shared their experiences and works at the plenary session on ‘Experiences, Remembrance and Politics: Oral History in our Time’. Among other things it discussed the challenges in the field of oral history. The Young Researchers Forum saw participation by researchers from various universities in India. This section brought into focus the different areas of research and use of genres that OH promises, given its distinctly interdisciplinary nature.

On day two of the conference, Dr Mallika Saxena, Junuka Deshpande and Dr Fleur D’Souza made presentations on the theme ‘Oral History and Community’. Dr Saxena’s presentation was on oral histories of the widows of armed forces in Lucknow, while Junuka Deshpande shared her experience about doing oral history work in post-Tsunami Nicobar Islands. Dr Fleur D’Souza’s paper explored the history and the identity of the Pawaras of Shirpur, a community in the state of Maharashtra, and their relationship with the forest.

This was followed by a session on ‘Oral History and Oral Traditions’. Akhil Gupta’s paper, authored by Dr Sangeeta Krishna, was titled ‘Constructing Oral History: A Study of Mandalis and Non Mandalis in the villages of Uttar Pradesh’. Dr Vinita Sinha and Aiyesha Abrar’s paper was about uncovering the subversive alternative history in Maithili stories and songs. The third paper in this section, Reconstructing History of Indian Dances through Oral Traditions, was presented by Dr Ashish Mohan Khokar.

The panel discussion on ‘Oral History Methodology – Interpreting what we listen to’ saw Deepa Dhanraj, Vrunda Pathare, Meena Menon and Dr. Indira Chowdhury speaking on the oral history practice in India.

The conference concluded with a special lecture by Alessandro Portelli on ‘They Say in Harlan County: Thirty Years of Field work’, where he shared his experiences of working as an oral historian from Italy researching on a community’s history in the state of Kentucky in the US. The conference was followed by the annual general body meeting of OHAI to which Dr. Miroslav Vanek was invited to participate. Dr Vanek shared his experience of organizing the IOHA Conference in Prague in 2010. Dr. Vanek’s words of encouragement together with the enthusiasm of OHAI members lead to OHAI’s decision to bid for India as the venue of the IOHA Conference in 2016.

Dr. Suroopa Mukherjee, Vice President, OHAI

Piyusha Chatterjee, Joint Secretary, OHAI


The inaugural events of the Oral History Association of India were held in July 2013




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