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Werkgroep Oral History – Identity in the Oral History Interview

Identity in the Oral History Interview:

Self, Time, Place and Memory, Reflections on the composition of the spoken life story as source of knowledge

Date: 14 February 2014, afternoon. 15.00 – 17.00 (followed by drinks)
Venue: Bungehuis, Spuistraat 210 zaal 0.15
Language: English
Registration is necessary, send an email to

Speakers: Jacub Mlynar and Luiza Bialasiewicz

The multilayered character of spoken accounts on past lived experiences has attracted attention beyond the realm of history way back in the 1980s in response to the ‘cultural turn’. It became obvious that retrospective stories about personal experiences are not merely complementary to written sources, but are made up of unconscious or conscious choices about what personal traits, events and spaces are remembered and described. This broader perspective opened up the range of disciplines that engaged with oral sources and blurred the division between history, cultural studies and social sciences. With the advent of digital technology, the web and video oral history, the potential for cross overs has drastically increased, but the basic principles for analysis remain the same: how are narratives about the self-constructed and which methodological approaches do we have at our disposal to disentangle the weave of words and meaning?

During this seminar two scholars who work with interviews and identity will present their work:

Jacub Mlynar
is a postgradual sociology student at Charles University in Prague and coordinator of the Malach Center for Visual History at the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics, which is the Czech access point to the USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive. The topic of his PhD research is the specific value of audiovisual autobiographic material as source of research for different disciplines. In this context he explores the various theoretical and methodological approaches to topics such as identity, time, memory and narrative.

Luiza Bialasiewicz is Jean Monnet Professor of EU External Relations in the Department of European Studies at the University of Amsterdam. Her most recent work examines European borders and migration, focusing on the Mediterranean space in particular.