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Oral History Network, Germany

Submitted by Linde Apel

In 2014 an interdisciplinary and self-organized group of scholars established the Oral History Network. We did that out of the consideration that although oral history seems to be established in German-language historical scholarship, it is not part of university curricula and, after a period of intense theoretical debate in the 1990s nowadays only rarely critically reflected upon and discussed. We also observed that interview projects that were primarily designed to secure oral sources without analyzing them were increasingly being funded. At the same time the role of the “contemporary witness” in the media was and is growing, which in turn had and has an impact on oral history projects. Another reason for our wish to get together and discuss more was the observation that the secondary evaluation of interviews conducted years ago is increasingly coming to the fore. Finally, in the age of digitality, we find it important to exchange views on technical issues. With the Oral History Network we intend to stimulate discussion on oral history in different aspects among people working with oral and/or audiovisual sources in historical, educational, museum or archival contexts. Historians and cultural scientists bring together projects, individuals and institutions in order to discuss oral sources and methods, projects and results, but also questions of collaborative archiving and digital oral history on an interdisciplinary level. So far, we have organized seven workshops, each of them dealing with the potential of oral history in terms of content. We discussed projects on migration, persecution, and work, as well as methodological issues research ethics and technical aspects. The meeting in 2019 took place in Vienna, Austria. You can find a conference report (in German) on In 2020 it will take place in Hamburg, Germany, at the Research Centre for Contemporary History. The workshop will be held in German and we want to reflect critically on the “history of oral history.” Anyone who is interested in and has experience with oral history can participate. In case of questions please contact Linde Apel,