Oral History@Work: Recording Change in Working Lives. Annual conference of the Oral History Society, Swansea University, UK, 5-6 July 2019.

Joanna Bornat's picture
Call for Papers
December 14, 2018
United Kingdom
Subject Fields: 
Labor History / Studies, Oral History, Public History, Research and Methodology, Women's & Gender History / Studies

Many aspects of working lives and the experience of work have changed within a generation. In the UK, areas and communities defined by work in single industries, mining, textiles and shipbuilding, have been transformed through closures and the export of work overseas. In the workplace, the balance of power has shifted as employers  have responded to workers’ organisation in different ways. Casualisation, part-time and temporary contracts have spread into new areas of work and employment changing the experience of work over lifetimes. Meanwhile, issues of gender, race and migration continue to divide and determine opportunities and inequalities in work and beyond. Oral history provides a way to record and interpret change in what is a central activity in people’s lives. The conference will explore the use of oral history to record and interpret change in working lives and the ways in which what is recorded is shared and disseminated.  In particular, the conference welcomes contributions which use oral history to document and understand:

The profound change in working lives over the last sixty years 

How gender, race, class, disability and health have affected employment opportunities and experiences

The effects of changing conditions of employment on working lives

The impacts of changing technologies on the nature of work

The interface between history, memory and identity as manifested in working lives

The rewards and dangers of work


How new industries have affected occupational health and workplace solidarity

The role of trade unions and experiences of industrial action 

The changing culture of work and workplaces

Communities and work

Worklessness and unemployment

Work and migration

Work and the environment

Unpaid work

The role of community projects, archives, museums and other heritage organisations in representing work and industrial history.

There will be a Welsh medium strand to the conference for contributions in the Welsh language.  Simultaneous translation will be available for non-Welsh speakers. 


Keynote speakers:

  • Arthur McIvor,  Professor of Social History and Director of the Scottish Oral History Centre at the University of Strathclyde, Scotland. 
  • Tom Hansell, documentary film maker and installation artist, Appallachian State University, USA.
  • Beth Thomas, former Keeper of History & Archaeology at Amgueddfa Cymru and content lead for the redevelopment of St Fagans National Museum of History.
Contact Info: 

The deadline for submission of proposals is 14 December 2017. Each proposal should include: a title, an abstract of between 250-300 words, your name (and the names of any co-presenters, panellists, etc), your institution or organisation, your email address, and a note of any particular requirements. Most importantly your abstract should demonstrate the use of oral history or personal testimony and be directly related to the conference theme. Proposals that include audio playback are strongly encouraged. 

Proposals should be emailed to the Oral History@Work Conference Administrator, Polly Owen, at polly.owen@ohs.org.uk. They will be assessed anonymously by the conference organisers, and presenters will be contacted in January/February 2019.



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