CFP: Oral Histories of Science, Technology and Medicine, July 2015

Posted on 24/07/2014 by



Oral Histories of Science, Technology and Medicine

The Annual Conference of the Oral History Society in conjunction with Royal Holloway University of London and the Oral History of British Science at the British Library, with support from the Wellcome Trust

Venue: Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham, Surrey TW20 0EX, UK

Date: Friday 10th– Saturday 11th July 2015


Conference Scope:

What can oral history and life story methodologies bring to the study of the history of science, technology and medicine? How have historians of science, technology and medicine made use of personal memory and narratives in their research?

This conference will explore the theoretical and practical challenges of using oral history-based techniques in the broad areas of the histories of science, mathematics, engineering, technology and medicine, and welcomes contributions which use oral history to:

  • Understand change in medicine and science
  • consider the links between organisational history and memory
  • juxtapose oral history with other historical sources
  • review the cultural interface between history, memory and technology
  • uncover personal reflections on technological and medical innovation and change
  • examine ways in which memory can be used to interpret and engage with wider public audiences about current scientific issues in, for example, biomedicine, the environment and lifestyle choices

This conference would bring into dialogue oral historians, historians of science, technology and medicine, medical sociologists, technologists, archivists, the scientific humanities, and heritage professionals working in museums, higher education, broadcasting and other media.

We invite proposals for oral history-based contributions, including papers, panels, presentations, workshops, posters and displays on the following topics:


Personal voices:

What scientists, engineers, mathematicians and clinicians do

Interviewee perspectives

The methodological challenges of interviewing practitioners and theorists

Myth and story in the workplace

Hidden and unheard voices from the science and medicine workplace


Institutional voices: 

Health Service perspectives

Government science and industrial science

Companies, research laboratories and corporations in science and engineering

Place, space and communities of identity

Private medical institutions

Oral histories of professional organisations


Community voices:

Amateur science

Traditional medicine


Local communities and scientific workplaces

Understanding technologies in everyday life

User perspectives on science and technology


Issues-led oral history:

Global warming and environmental change

Gender and ethnicity in the scientific workplace

Informal communities

Science and the media: the role of history and personal stories


Science policy and politics:

The role of government

The privatisation of science and technology

Professionalisation and professional politics

The management and administration of science and medicine


Innovation and invention:

Oral history and understanding the process of invention and maintaining existing beliefs


Creating, archiving and re-using oral histories of science, technology and medicine:

Funding and ethics

Using video in documenting science practice

Re-using and reinterpreting archived oral history data

Archivist perspectives

Juxtaposing oral and traditional sources

Public engagement, display and exhibition which uses oral history


PROPOSALS Proposals should be submitted by 1 December 2014 and include: a title, an abstract of between 250-300 words, your name (and the names of any co-presenters, panelists etc), your institution or organisation, your email address, and a note of any particular requirements. Most importantly your abstract should demonstrate the use of oral history or personal testimony.

Proposals should be emailed to the Oral Histories of Science, Technology and Medicine Conference Administrator, Belinda Waterman, at They will be assessed anonymously by the conference organisers, and presenters will be contacted in January 2015.

PRELIMINARY ORGANISING GROUP  OHS: Rob Perks, Mary Stewart.Oral History of British Science (BL): Sally Horrocks, Tom Lean, Paul MerchantRoyal Holloway: Graham Smith. We invite OHS members and others to contact the organisers if they would like to join the group or be involved in other organisational aspect of the conference.