2017 Annual Conference Call for Papers

2017 Oral History in the Mid-Atlantic Region Conference

Co-sponsored by the
Columbia University Oral History Master of Arts (OHMA) Program

Friday, April 28th to Saturday, April 29th, 2017
Columbia University
New York City

UPDATE: The proposal submission deadline has been extended to February 15, 2017 at 11:59 p.m. EST.


From global metropolises to local hubs, urban spaces echo with historical memory and ongoing struggle. The 2017 Oral History in the Mid-Atlantic Region conference is an exploration of how oral history answers to the voices of a city.

Cities have long been at the crossroads of movement and change. Recent development in sectors like tech and higher education have transformed some American cityscapes, enacting urban renewal through processes of gentrification and displacement. In other settings, industry has shifted and populations have declined, altering local economies and living conditions.  

The city has become an increasingly contested space, as social movements spearheaded by people of color, immigrants, LGBTQ+, women, youth, and allies have risen to address deep-rooted cultures of oppression. Urban environments remain pivotal in this political age of new ideas and policies that target historically marginalized groups at the core of city life.

Oral history, with its radical power to humanize people and connect the past with the present, has a living tradition in working with urban communities and challenges. This conference offers an opportunity to share, discuss, and develop the unique ways in which oral history can provide tools to engage with the stories and demands of our modern cities.


As historians, documentarians, and community members, we ask questions like: Who is the city for? How do political transitions and struggles impact cityscapes? What do equity, activism, and justice look like in an ever-changing city? How can oral history engage with social difference and discrimination in urban spaces? Can listening deeply create shared spaces to explore the formation of identity and community? How do oral historians respond to contemporary historical moments and create impact in diverse urban environments? Can the process of remembering the past inform and mobilize action in the present?

The Program Committee encourages participation from oral historians and cultural workers, artists and activists, documentarians and journalists, filmmakers and performers, students and educators, archivists and academics, engaged practitioners and community members of all varieties, with a nexus in the Mid-Atlantic—from New York to Washington, D.C. and all areas in between. We see this not only as a space to share work but the beginning of a conversation to sustain it, building local networks of support and exchange. All are welcome regardless of geographic location.  


We invite individual and collaborative proposals for multimedia exhibits, installations, performances, spoken word, walking tours, film screenings, working groups, public interviews, papers, panels, roundtables, and other creative formats.

The proposal submission deadline has been extended to February 15, 2017 at 11:59 p.m. EST. Please fill out this form and submit your proposal as a Google or Word document via the instructions in the form.

Proposals should include:

  • Title
  • Presenters’ names and email addresses
  • A combined abstract for collaborative proposals (250-500 words)
  • Abstracts for each individual presentation (150-200 words)
  • Brief bios for each presenter
  • Any social media pages or handles you would like us to engage with
  • Links to websites or digital resources relating to the proposal
  • A short description of any set up or technological requirements

Note: Presenters submitting individually do not need to provide a combined abstract. Collaborative proposals should include both combined and individual abstracts if there will be multiple presentations.

Conference resources and attendance information will be added here shortly. We seek to create an inclusive and welcoming space, so encourage you to reach out if you have any concerns about your ability to participate.

Please do not hesitate to contact the conference co-chairs, Erica Fugger and Cameron Vanderscoff, with further questions at anytime: ohmar.conference@gmail.com. We look forward to reviewing your proposals and welcoming you to New York in April!