OHAA Biennial National Conference

The Oral History Association of Australia, History SA and the University of South Australia hosted this conference in September 2013, which brought together professional, academic, community and oral historians.

A copy of the conference program may be found at www.history.sa.gov.au/shc2013.

Audio/video presentations may be downloaded via http://ohaa-sa.com.au/conference2013/. Please note: a number of presentations are yet to be edited but will be uploaded as soon as possible after permissions have been received.

A summary of the conference sessions may be found at http://www.ohaaqld.org.au/blog/.


Further details and enquiries:

June Edwards, co-convenor OHAA (SA Branch) contact@ohaa-sa.com.au (08) 8293 1314

Professor Rina Benmayor was the OHAA conference keynote speaker

Professor Benmayor's session was entitled: Re-imagining Salinas’ Chinatown: A ‘third space’ oral history walking tour.

Re-imagining Salinas’ Chinatown is an on-site and web-based oral history walking tour project in design.  The walking tour is a cultural component of a larger community effort to renew and revitalize the only physically extant Chinatown between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Inhabited from the 1880s to the 1970s by Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, and Mexican agricultural workers, merchants, and their families, this marginalized yet historic Chinatown is now home to the homeless, social services, and drug dealers. Drawing on more than 100 oral history interviews and other documentation, this tour is conceived as a self-guided experience that mixes audio, video, archival images, and soundscapes. This project rests on the premise that oral history constructs a memoried "thirdspace" that makes physical transformation imaginable and possible. Drawing on theories of public space/place/sites of memory/and imagined communities (Lefevbre, Soja, Tuan; Nora, and Field), the project explores the intersections of spatiality, historicity, and sociality in representing the remembered past. Soja's concept of "thirdspace" provides a provocative framework for walking tours as spatial/historical/social representations and claims for spatial justice. From a technological standpoint, oral narratives pinned to physical places through augmented reality tools enable a multi-vocal/visual rendering of thirdspace in ways that a master historical narrative, more typical of walking tours, does not. From a creative standpoint, strategies of thoughtful juxtaposition, clustering, overlapping and intersection of narratives and images serve to construct a multivocal, multiethnic "thirdspace" experience.

The biennial conference Communities of Memory was held in Melbourne in October 2011

Emphasis was placed on memory as an increasingly significant resource for many different types of communities: for survivors of natural catastrophe and human-made disaster; in country towns dealing with demographic and environmental change; for cities and suburbs in constant transformation; in the preservation of special places or the restitution of human rights; for the ‘Forgotten Australians’ and ‘Stolen Generations’; for migrants and refugees creating new lives; among virtual communities sharing life stories online. Memories are used to foster common identity and purpose, to recover hidden histories and silenced stories, to recall change in the past and advocate change in the present, to challenge stereotypes and speak truth to power. The concept of ‘community’ can be enlisted for change or conservatism; ‘communities of memory’ can be inclusive and empowering, or exclusive and silencing.

The conference sub-themes included:

  • Memory and Catastrophe
  • Memory Work for Human Rights
  • Indigenous Memory
  • Place, Community, Memory
  • Communities of Identity
  • Contested Communities
  • Communities of Gender and Sexuality
  • Migrants and Refugees
  • Communities of Work or Leisure
  • Activist Communities
  • War Memories
  • Generational Communities
  • Theories of Collective and Community Memory
  • New Approaches to Recording Lives
  • New Technologies for Documenting Memory and History
  • Memory Work in Creative and Fictional Writing
  • Ethical Issues in Memory Work
  • Training Community Oral Historians

The keynote speakers were:

Stephen High
Chair in Public History and co-director of the Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling at Concordia University, Montreal; publications include Corporate Wasteland: The Landscape and Memory of Deindustrialization (2007).
See http://storytelling.concordia.ca/oralhistory/index.html

Nathalie Nguyen
Australian Research Fellow, University of Melbourne; publications include Memory Is Another Country: Women of the Vietnamese Diaspora (2009) and Voyage of Hope: Vietnamese Australian Women’s Narratives (2005).
See http://www.australian.unimelb.edu.au/aboutus/people/nguyen.html

Peter Read
Australian Research Council Professorial Fellow, University of Sydney; publications include Tripping Over Feathers. Scenes in the Life of Joy Janaka Wiradjuri Williams. A Stolen Generations Narrative (2009) and Returning to Nothing: The Meaning of Lost Places (1996)
See http://www.arts.usyd.edu.au/history/staff/profiles/read.shtml


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