Dialogue Snapshot: Oral History in the Middle East and Central Asia

The Hollings Center for International Dialogue, a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering dialogue between the United States and countries with predominantly Muslim populations, has released a new dialogue snapshot on Oral History in the Middle East and Central Asia (PDF).

View over Mardin, Turkey

The snapshot is an outcome of a Higher Education Dialogue hosted in February by the Hollings Center and attended by CCOH Director Mary Marshall Clark. The February meeting was a significant opportunity for representatives from the international community — including those from Afghanistan, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and the United States — to gather and exchange ideas on the substance and practice of oral history, particularly at the global level and in post-conflict settings.

Emergent themes from the dialogue included:

Crossing borders, going global: Oral history has only realized a small part of its global potential. There is lots of room for new partnerships and exchanges.

The diverse uses of oral history: Oral history methods have many uses — from challenging written history to diagnosing political problems. Although dialogue participants did not see the purpose of oral history in the same way, it was remarkable to note how similar and compatible their methods are.

Working in conflict settings: A number of participants work in settings that have experienced political violence and war. While each setting is unique, participants exchanged fruitful ideas about interviewing in conflict areas.

Technology as burden and benefit: Advances in technology make it easier to disseminate oral history projects. But these advances mean practitioners must now make critical ethical and archiving decisions at the outset of their projects.

Visit the Hollings Center and download the Dialogue Snapshot here. The snapshot can also be read in both Arabic and Turkish.

Stay in touch with both the Hollings Center and CCOH on Twitter @CU_OralHistory and @HollingsCenter.