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1968 and the value of oral history

Wednesday 23 February 2011, 10am - 6pm

IAS seminar room, Millburn House


Funded by Roberts’ Fund for Researchers


This interdisciplinary seminar sets out to reflect upon the value of oral history in the broader discipline of memory studies, in particular on its role in the deconstruction of dominant discourses of the past. Focus will primarily be on the protest movement of 1968 in Europe.

Contrary to student revolts in the past, the protests of 1968 had a global dimension, and were strongly determined by the economic boom of the 1950s and by the development of new youth cultures. This transnational and generational character has undoubtedly contributed to the difficult historicization of 1968, and the seminar therefore aims at:

(a) tracing a link between participants and observers across Europe;

(b) offering a reflection on the impact of the protests on their lives;

(c) stimulating a more methodological discussion of oral history and autobiography related to protest movements in the 1960s and 70s.

Speakers include:

  • Prof. Robert Gildea (Oxford) and Juliane Fürst (Bristol) of the research project Around 1968: Activism, Networks, Trajectories, on oral testimony and how it can both model and subvert existing discourses of the past;
  • Bruno Bonomo (Rome): reconsidering oral history and 1968 in Italy;
  • Celia Hughes (Warwick): the value of oral history in accessing the experiences of the British Far left in the 1960s and 1970s;
  • Joseph Maslen (Sheffield Hallam): rereading 1930s left-wing movements in Britain through Luisa Passerini’s Autobiography of a Generation: Italy 1968;
  • Sofia Serenelli (Reading): 'private' 1968 and the 'margins' - 1968 in the Italian province.

A round-table discussion with, among others, Dr. Jennifer Burns (Italian) and Prof. Gerd-Rainer Horn (History) - author of The Spirit of '68: Rebellion in Western Europe and North America, 1956-1976 (2007) - will conclude the seminar.

Programme (Word Document)

Seminar poster (Word Document)



Evaluation form (Word Document)

Podcasts (Audio clip)


Oral History and Migrant Writing in Italy

On Wednesday 2 March (2 - 7pm), the IAS will host a second seminar related to the topic of oral history, this time organized by the Italian Department, and which will focus on orality in Italian migrant writing.

Kombola Ramadhani Moussa (University of Reading):
Orality and Literacy in the Narratives of some Italian Migrant Writers

Oral History and Migrant Writings in Italy
Videoconference with Alessandro Portelli (Roma, La Sapienza)

Filmscreening La Quarta Via by Simone Brioni (ITA, 2009, 40’, Eng. subtitles)

Kaha Mohamed Aden narrates her memories of Mogadishu and reconstructs its story in Pavia, where she currently lives.

Kaha Mohamed Aden presents her collection of short stories Fra-intendimenti (2010)

For more information: