Call For Papers - Cold War Voices: Stories, Speech and Sound, 1945-1991

Joel Morley Announcement
United Kingdom
Subject Fields
Oral History, Peace History / Studies, Military History, Modern European History / Studies, Research and Methodology


Cold War Voices: Stories, Speech and Sound, 1945-1991


Department of Historical Studies

University of Bristol, UK

22-23 January 2020

Voices were an integral element of the Cold War: from political speeches to surveillance technology, the spoken word took on a political, cultural and social significance in the post-1945 world. But voices could also be used to express anger or dissatisfaction with Cold War politics; to express fear or uncertainty for the future; or used to disseminate alternate viewpoints on current affairs.

Historians too have turned to voices to understand the history of the Cold War period, interviewing policymakers, diplomats and officials, but also “ordinary” people who lived through tension and conflict.

This conference aims to explore the relationship between the Cold War, voices and oral history in more detail, examining not only the gathering of voices during the Cold War, for cultural, political or intelligence purposes, but also historians’ use of voices, oral histories, oral culture and sound in writing histories of this period.  

Taking a deliberately broad view of Cold War ‘voices’, we welcome papers on the following topics:

  • Surveillance, ‘listening in’ and recording voices during the Cold War
  • Voices from war, conflict and violence during the Cold War period, including the Korean War, Vietnam War and conflicts associated with decolonization
  • Speaking out for peace: oral histories of nuclear disarmament and the peace movement
  • Cultures of orality, folk culture, sound and song during the Cold War
  • Narratives of subjectivity and selfhood during the Cold War
  • Cold War anniversaries and the memory of the Cold War
  • The use of oral history to understand the domestic, local or regional impact of the Cold War, across the world
  • Oral histories with policymakers, diplomats or officials, or other ‘elite’ political actors
  • The use of archived oral history interviews or official histories
  • The dissemination of ‘voices’, via broadcast media and the politics of Cold War interviewing
  • Innovative technologies for accessing, disseminating or displaying Cold War voices

Proposals on other topics relating to the central themes are also welcomed.

Proposals must include a title and a 350-400 word abstract, plus a 200-word biography or one-page CV. Please send your proposal to and by 1st October 2019. We welcome applications from researchers from all career stages and disciplines. Successful speakers will be contacted by 1st November 2019.

The conference will take place at the University of Bristol, UK. For more information on the University of Bristol, see: Support for travel and accommodation will be available for early career researchers.

The workshop is supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council as part of Dr Grace Huxford’s AHRC Early Career Leadership Fellowship on ‘British Military Bases in Germany: Living with the Cold War and its Legacies, 1945-2000’ and is organized by Dr Grace Huxford and Dr Joel Morley. For more information on the wider project and the conference, see


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