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Assessing the Role of Race and Power in Oral History Theory and Practice

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Who We Are
Call for Papers
Full Program
Symposium Report

On June 27, 28, and 29, 2022, oral historians from around the world will gather virtually for three days of discussion about the role of race and power in oral history theory and practice. Organized as a symposium, discussions will be based on pre-circulated papers posted on the conference website and made available to all registrants. Presentations based on these papers, as well as discussants’ comments, will be brief, allowing ample time for discussion and small, break-out group conversations. Each of the three days will include only two, well-spaced two-and-one-half-hour sessions, giving attendees the opportunity for focused attention in the context of their everyday lives.

The symposium, organized by an ad hoc group of historians in collaboration with the Oral History Association and the Oral History Center at the University of California Berkeley, builds upon the group’s well received panel “Is Oral History White?” presented at the 2020 Oral History Association annual meeting. The symposium aims to move beyond that question to interrogate broader structures and dynamics of race, racialized thinking, and institutional power in oral history. Our intent is to facilitate conversation among all symposium participants so that we may collectively reach a deeper understanding of how these structures and dynamics have shaped – and continue to shape – oral historians’ work and to consider methods and approaches for overcoming them. We recognize that this conversation is part of broader discussions within both oral history and society at large and that authority lies in our collective wisdom. 


Sessions are being organized around the following topics:

  • Renovating the Invisible Architectures of Institution-Community Relations
  • New Approaches to Place-Based Collecting and Exhibits
  • Language, Consciousness, and Race
  • Getting Interpersonal
  • Oral History and Reparations
  • Where Do We Go from Here? 

The full program will be posted in March 2022. Meanwhile, further information is available in the Call for Papers

The symposium will also give presenters and participants opportunities to reflect personally upon the charged subject of race in oral history and apply these reflections towards the cultivation of more equitable oral history projects at every phase of the oral history process—from project design to interviewing to processing and curation to use. We anticipate that our symposium community will claim a range of racial identities and relationships and varying degrees of experience reflecting upon their positionality. We therefore plan to set shared expectations for constructive conversation rooted in mindful awareness, good faith engagement, and emotional maturity at the very beginning of the symposium and to create opportunities for small-group discussion and individually tailored self-reflection over the duration of the symposium.


Blue Button that says Register Here

To encourage maximum participation – and as a result of both the contributed labor of the organizers and the support of our collaborators – we are keeping registration fees low.

**Early Bird Registration**

February 15 – April 1  (Extended to April 8)

Tier 1, Students and Retirees: $10Tier 2, Independent Practitioners: $25Tier 3, With Institutional Support: $50

Regular Registration 

April 2 – June 20

Tier 1: Students & Retirees $20
Tier 2: Independent Practitioner $50
Tier 3: With Institutional Support $100

To register:  

Please note: By registering for the symposium, you agree to to abide by the Oral History Association’s Code of Conduct

Please register for the symposium here. If you would like to register by check or money order, please email Shanna Farrell at for instructions with “SYMPOSIUM REGISTRATION” as the subject.

Please note that Early Bird Registration closes on April 8, 2022, and the discounted rates will not be available past that date. Regular registration closes on June 20, 2022.

After you have registered, you will be receiving symposium papers and Zoom information to attend sessions from Shanna Farrell. Please note that both papers and Zoom information for participation will be sent out in May 2022. 

All panel presentations will be transcribed live via the closed captioning function of Zoom and will include ASL interpretation. If you will need ASL interpretation for a breakout room or have any additional accessibility concerns, please contact Kelly Navies at

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