2018 Annual Conference of the

OHS and OHNI with

QUOTE Hub, Queen’s University Belfast

Dangerous Oral Histories: risks, responsibilities and rewards


Venue: Riddel Hall, Queen’s University Belfast, 185 Stranmillis Road, Belfast BT9 5EE

Date: Thursday 28 and Friday 29 June 2018

This joint conference of the Oral History Society and the Oral History Network of Ireland addresses the ethical and legal implications of oral history research. It presents a timely opportunity to explore the many issues raised by challenging projects, such as: What is an acceptable level of risk for interviewees/interviewers in the oral history process? What are the new responsibilities of the oral historian in a digital age?  What are the rewards for initiating ‘dangerous’ oral history projects on ‘difficult’ topics, and when do the risks outweigh them?

Booking Now Open

Please download the provisional conference programme or the conference booking form.

To book online please click here.

Further Details

Conference registration fee:

Standard conference fee: £140

OHS/OHNI members: £110 (those wishing to attend the conference can become members and take advantage of the rate)

Concessionary Fee for Pensioners and the Unwaged: £110.00

Self-funded students: £65


Conference Dinner

The conference dinner will take place in the spectacular setting of Queen’s University Great Hall, a panelled room hung with the university’s art collection, which is one of the most sought-after venues in Northern Ireland. There will be a three-course meal (bookable in advance in addition to the conference fee) and our special guest speaker will be PHIL SCRATON who is a critical criminologist best-known for his campaigning research into the context and circumstances of the Hillsborough football stadium disaster of 1989. He was a member of the Hillsborough Independent Panel that produced the report that led to the opening of new inquests on the 96 victims of the disaster. A delicate aspect of that whole process involved convincing rank and file police officers to come forward and tell their stories about that day, and of the calamitous policing operation that led to the crushing of so many football supporters. Phil will talk about that difficult process.


Bed and breakfast accommodation is available at the University with en- suite bedrooms available at Elms Village, 78 Malone Road, Belfast, BT9 5BW at a cost of £45.00 per person per night.

There are limited rooms available so early booking is recommended to secure campus accommodation.

Accommodation needs to be booked and paid for directly with Queen’s University by clicking here.

Ideas for alternative accommodation can be found in the conference programme.

Conference Bursaries

Thanks to the support of Queen University Belfast School of Law and School of History we are pleased to be able to offer four bursaries for the conference. Each bursary covers the cost of the conference fee and the conference dinner and two will also include overnight accommodation on campus.  Two bursaries will be for post-graduate students and two bursaries for those attending from community groups, and priority will be given to those presenting papers. To be considered for a bursary please email polly.owen@ohs.org.uk with an outline of your case for support (in no more than 300 words) by Friday 11th May 2018.

Conference sub-themes include:

  • Methodology: personal safety, dangerous practices, the ethics of interviewing
  • Risks and challenges for researchers: copyright, ownership and consent
  • Interviewing on the edge: criminals, illegals, war survivors
  • Working with victims: adapting process, practice and outputs
  • Oral histories of conflict and struggle: community activists, security personnel, ex-combatants
  • Oral history in totalitarian and post-totalitarian societies
  • Oral histories of disasters and catastrophes
  • Oral history’s relationship with official secrecy and security
  • Interviewee risk in sharing/telling stories: re-traumatisation, ruptures within families/workplaces/communities
  • Justice contexts: prison-based oral history
  • Oral history, trauma and abuse: the unspoken
  • Illness, death and end-of-life narratives
  • Environmental risk and danger: disasters
  • Work-based hazards and accidents
  • Discord and danger in community history
  • Sexuality narratives: discrimination, illness, illegality
  • Reuse of archived oral histories on challenging and controversial topics
  • Practical strategies for interviewers working in dangerous areas
  • Ways of mitigating risk: risk assessment, training, the role of ethics committees
  • Responsible collection and archiving practices: including the implications of the Boston College Project
  • Teaching dangerous oral histories
  • Museums as ‘safe’ spaces for dangerous and challenging oral histories

Organising Group

Anna Bryson, Arlene Crampsie, Ida Milne, Sean O’Connell, Rob Perks, Adrian Roche, Mary Stewart, Juliana Vandegrift.


For more information please contact us at info@oralhistorynetworkireland.ie