CFP extended (DL 1 Aug 2020): Power, Au­thor­ity, and Voice: Crit­ical Re­flec­tions in/​on Oral His­tory (Helsinki, Finland, 26–27 Nov 2020)

Ulla Savolainen's picture

7th international symposium of the Finnish Oral History Network FOHN 

Power, Authority, and Voice: Critical Reflections in/on Oral History

26–27 November 2020
Helsinki, Finland

The notions of power, authority, and voice have been at the center of oral history research and practice from its inception. Oral history research is emblematically distinguished by its preoccupation with the voices from ‘the below’, having dedicated itself to the recording, collection, and analysis of memories, personal narratives, and histories of individuals and groups that would not have been heard otherwise. The concept of voice has implicitly referred to the nature of oral histories as recorded interviews, but more importantly, to issues of subjectivity, representation, and authority. In addition to recorded interviews, there has been increasing interest in various forms of life writings, as well as other forms of vernacular mnemonic practices online and offline. Even though the dialogic nature of data and knowledge production has been emphasized, analyzed, and celebrated, we still need to ask who holds the power to decide which pasts and perspectives are recognized, and whose voices – and what kind of voices – are listened to and analyzed, how and why? Moreover, we need to critically reflect on the structures of power and authority that practices and methods of oral history research foster 

The seventh international symposium of the Finnish Oral History Network FOHN will focus on the notions of power, authority, and voice in the context of oral history from critical contemporary perspective. The keynote speakers are Urvashi Butalia (Delhi, India), Erin Jessee (University of Glasgow, Scotland, UK), Jonna Katto (Ghent University, Belgium), and Riikka Taavetti (University of Helsinki, Finland).

We wish to invite contributions focusing on methodological and ethical questions as well as on case studies. Proposals may be submitted for individual papers or panels and they can address but are not limited to the following themes and issues:

  • Critical reflections on voices and silences
  • Authorities of knowledge production in oral history
  • Culturally dependent aesthetics of oral history and life writing
  • Ideologies and politics of oral history and life writing
  • Issues related to the nature of oral history as a social movement, form of activism, and academic practice
  • Materiality and medium of the ‘voice’ (i.e. sound, writing, image)
  • Dominance of the ‘tragic’, ‘traumatic’, and ‘devastating’ experiences
  • Oral history and other disciplines
  • Critical reflections on the geographies of oral history 

Submissions of individual papers require a title and a maximum of 250-word abstract. Panel proposals should include a maximum of 250-word description of the panel and max 250-word abstracts of each individual papers. The conference language will be English. 

Please e-mail your proposal to fohn-symposium@helsinki.fiThe deadline for the proposals has been extended to 1 August 2020. The acceptance or rejection of proposals will be announced by 15 August 2020 and the registration will be opened in September 2020. The conference fee will be 70 euros (standard) / 35 euros (concession: students, unwaged).

The Finnish Oral History Network FOHN is still very much hoping that the symposium will be organised as originally planned, but participants will be kept posted on any possible changes.


Ulla Savolainen  

Chair, FOHN

UNIVERSITY OF HELSINKI                                           


Further information on the symposium:

FOHN’s webpage:

Facebook: Finnish Oral History Network

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