2023 annual conference of the Oral History Society celebrating its 50th anniversary in partnership with Nottingham Trent University (in-person / hybrid)

Friday 23rd & Saturday 24th June 2023, Nottingham Trent University


Oral history is about working together: with interviewees, within projects and across all kinds of partnerships. Cocreation and collaborative dialogue are at the heart of oral history, and the relationships between the interviewer and interviewee can be as fruitful and successful as they can be complex and difficult. Through the dynamic, evolving exchange of questions and responses, there is the potential for interviewer and narrator to ‘share power’ and ownership of the interview. Equally oral history lends itself to partnership working, across disciplines and sectors, across age groups and specialisms, across cultures and skill-sets. What are the benefits and challenges of collaborative oral history work, both within the interview encounter and within whole projects? What happens when the interview relationship breaks down or when partnerships are unsuccessful? These challenging questions reveal much about the collaborative potential and dilemmas of conducting oral history. Collaboration in the planning, collection, analysis, and dissemination of oral histories as a means of democratising historical research has become a common aspect of doing oral history work across settings and disciplines. Yet an exploration of these processes is often left out of published accounts. This conference aims to explore the knotty issues of collaboration, power and partnership working in oral history. Community groups, academic research, heritage organisations and many other groups and individuals have worked together to make oral histories. Whatever your background, this conference would like to hear from you. Potential topics may include:

  • Sharing power with interviewees or project partners in the project cycle (planning, collection, dissemination, archiving)
  • Combining oral history with other participatory approaches for social change
  • Creating, fostering, and maintaining collaborative relationships with stakeholders
  • Participatory oral history in archives, libraries, museums, universities, community groups and other institutions and across settings
  • Challenges and opportunities of partnership working: the expectations, perceptions and assumptions
  • Planning, preparation and project management: best practice and sharing learning, reflecting on successful collaborative elements
  • Challenges and exploring (un)successful partnerships
  • When is collaboration (not) desirable?


The deadline for submission of proposals is Friday 6 January 2023. Each proposal should include a title, an abstract of 250-300 words, your name (and the name of any co-presenters, panellists etc), your institution or organisation (if applicable), your email address, and a note of any special requirements. Your abstract should demonstrate the use of oral history or personal testimony related to the conference theme. Proposals that include audio playback are encouraged. You may also wish to submit a proposal for a panel. We are looking for a wide variety of contributions addressing such issues and questions, delivered in a variety of formats. We would encourage contributors to submit abstracts summarising their results of co-producing oral history or aspects of collaboration in oral history projects which could be presented as papers, theatre, photography, art, or other kinds of installations. Alongside the papers, we are calling for short 8-minute ‘lightning’ discussion presentations from community based and academic oral history researchers to be presented during the day. We also hope to run panel sessions representing themes and workshops for those in the early stages of an oral history project (for example, live interviews, examples of sharing interpretative authority, doing oral history), so please think about what format might work best for you and your work.

Proposals should be emailed to our conference administrator, Polly Owen, at They will be assessed anonymously by the conference organisers. Presenters will be contacted in March 2023.

For more details about this and previous conferences, go to


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