Preliminary Programme

Wed 12 April
    08.30 - 10.30
    11.00 - 13.00
    14.00 - 16.00
    16.30 - 18.30

Thu 13 April
    08.30 - 10.30
    11.00 - 13.00
    14.00 - 16.00
    16.30 - 18.30

Fri 14 April
    08.30 - 10.30
    11.00 - 13.00
    14.00 - 16.00
    16.30 - 18.30

Sat 15 April
    08.30 - 10.30
    11.00 - 13.00
    14.00 - 16.00

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Friday 14 April 2023 16.30 - 18.30
X-12 ORA08 Oral History in Medicine: Something Special?
Västra Hamngatan 25 AK2 136 (Z)
Network: Oral History Chair: Andrea Strutz
Organizer: Felicitas Söhner Discussants: -
Christopher Donohue : Oral Histories of Genomics: Between Archives and Contemporary History
Oral histories in the biological sciences are Oral histories in the biological sciences are fraught with controversy. In many instances a reasonable argument can be made that oral history interviews sometimes misrepresent the work of biological sciences and genetics by focusing on key "heroic" individuals at top levels, who ... (Show more)
Oral histories in the biological sciences are Oral histories in the biological sciences are fraught with controversy. In many instances a reasonable argument can be made that oral history interviews sometimes misrepresent the work of biological sciences and genetics by focusing on key "heroic" individuals at top levels, who often have reasons for glamorizing their contributions. However, the NHGRI archive and the History of Genomics Program, by interviewing scientists at a number of levels from diverse backgrounds limits the heroic tendencies of oral history narrative. This takes a considerable amount of work and planning, with more than 80 interviews filmed and more than double planned. As importantly, because these oral histories often discuss contemporary biological and genetic science, which is many cases in development, the interviews are developed with the understanding that interviewees will indeed change their discussions of genetics and their contribution to the field. This means that often scientists are interviewed multiple times with numerous discussions between interviews about the items discussed. Lastly, as I have previously argued, the NHGRI archive provides an endless resource to clarify oral histories, where the oral histories and the archival evidence both become mutually reinforcing resources for a fuller and more robust narrative of contemporary biological sciences. This does not eliminate the issues associated with oral histories in the biological sciences and genetics, but it reduces them to make them robust, cogent sources for future work and further analysis. (Show less)

Nils Hansson, Thorsten Halling : Expert Interviews in the History of Medicine. More than Old White Men Narratives?
In recent decades, much has been said about the methodological challenges and tactics of interviewing groups of "elite" physicians and scientists, e.g. with regard to witness seminars and video podcasts with renowned scientists. At the university level, too, there is a large number of semi-structured online interviews by historians with ... (Show more)
In recent decades, much has been said about the methodological challenges and tactics of interviewing groups of "elite" physicians and scientists, e.g. with regard to witness seminars and video podcasts with renowned scientists. At the university level, too, there is a large number of semi-structured online interviews by historians with alumni and emeriti, which are intended to present and contextualise scientific (local) highlights in medicine. Such material is often presented on university websites as a supplement to lists of medical school "milestones".
Drawing on the publications and questionnaires of oral history projects on excellence in medicine, this presentation will first provide an overview of current such initiatives with a focus on universities in Northern Europe.
Afterwards, the first results of an ongoing interview project of the scientific network "Bridging the Baltic: Medicine in the Baltic Sea Region", which investigates how authority and prestige play out in an institutional setting, will be presented. Central to this is the question of self-assessment and self-presentation of scientific excellence in national and international research contexts, especially under the specific conditions of knowledge exchange in the Cold War era and the subsequent reorganisation of the European scientific landscape. Finally, we will propose to launch a platform with European colleagues for comparative research on this topic (Show less)

Tanya Karrer : Are Scientific Oral History Interviews with Mentally Impaired People Compatible with YouTube?
With today’s requirements to scientific communication, conducted research and the results and conclusions thereof have often to be presented to a broader public beyond the scientific community. Thus, researchers must take into consideration not only scientific views but also communicative aspects. Planning oral history interviews with people in sensitive areas ... (Show more)
With today’s requirements to scientific communication, conducted research and the results and conclusions thereof have often to be presented to a broader public beyond the scientific community. Thus, researchers must take into consideration not only scientific views but also communicative aspects. Planning oral history interviews with people in sensitive areas such as homes for mentally impaired people, the interviewer faces a great number of legal, ethical, communicative, technical, and aesthetic challenges before the “stories” may be published on websites or even social media platforms.
This contribution is based mainly on my experience with an oral history project commissioned and funded by a private social institution for mentally handicapped people. The institution is proud of the profound changes, it has undergone in its 140 years of existence. The project aimed to document the more recent past of the current residents and their lives, but also included a communication to the outside world subject to adhering to the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities adopted by the United Nations General Assembly.
The presentation will show the methodological and practical approaches used to meet the requirements for scientific and historical information gathering as well as taking extraordinary care of the highly confidential aspects protecting the protagonists in sensitive surroundings. The paper tries to shed a special light on the practical, ethical and legal aspects of conducting interviews with people with legal guardians, and the challenge of producing informative and entertaining but still respectful video content from these interviews. And it should set off a debate on whether – in a scientific view – both objectives, historical and communicative, may reasonably be met by the described method. (Show less)

Nils Löffelbein, Uta Hinz & Frank Sparing : "Special" Conversations - Mentally "Handicapped" People as Contemporary Witnesses in Oral History Interviews
In recent years, the spectrum of (medical) historical studies on the placement of children and adolescents in homes and psychiatric institutions has expanded considerably. Current studies focus in particular on the everyday lives and experiences of people with mental or psychological impairments who were housed in long-term institutions isolated from ... (Show more)
In recent years, the spectrum of (medical) historical studies on the placement of children and adolescents in homes and psychiatric institutions has expanded considerably. Current studies focus in particular on the everyday lives and experiences of people with mental or psychological impairments who were housed in long-term institutions isolated from the outside world until well into the 1970s. The research interest here concentrates primarily on questions of restrictions on personal rights of freedom, forms of economic exploitation as well as coercion and violence in everyday institutional life.
In order to capture the perspective and individual experiences of those affected, oral history methods are now increasingly being used. When conducting narrative interviews with mentally impaired people, however, constellations of conversations arise that raise very specific methodological and research ethics questions in several respects. On a legal as well as ethical level, the question of securing informed consent from eyewitnesses arises. With regard to medical aspects, possible impairments, e.g. as a result of many years of medication, must be considered, as well as the very different individual characteristics of cognition and communication. In the concrete interview situation, this results not only in methodological challenges of a possible communicative adaptation to individual needs. They are also closely connected with ethical questions, such as the avoidance of communicative hierarchies and possible retraumatisation of the interview partners.
The article sheds light on these special constellations of conversations based on concrete eyewitness interviews conducted within the framework of research projects of the "Institute for History, Theory and Ethics of Medicine" Düsseldorf. The experiences and methodological questions made here are also discussed comparatively in the context of similar oral history projects. (Show less)

Felicitas Söhner, Julia Nebe : Interviewing Professionals in a Sensitive Field. Unexpected Perspectives on Everyday Medical Live?
Biographical research approaches can be applied to numerous fields. In the field of medical history, biographical research approaches confront researchers with special questions that arise from the interweaving of practical research considerations with medical ethical conventions.
In addition to interviewing actors of elite medicine as well as members of vulnerable ... (Show more)
Biographical research approaches can be applied to numerous fields. In the field of medical history, biographical research approaches confront researchers with special questions that arise from the interweaving of practical research considerations with medical ethical conventions.
In addition to interviewing actors of elite medicine as well as members of vulnerable groups, eyewitness projects deal with the perspective of professional actors from the field and their expert knowledge. But even if it is a question of surveying professional expertise and everyday medical clinical and research life, the special features of the research field are to be considered, such as the special relationship of trust in a doctor-patient relationship, the handling of sensitive information, ...
Thus, in research in medicine, some special features have to be considered in order to protect the actors involved and their data on the one hand and not to withhold the advantages of this research approach on the other.
Not least in view of the increasingly far-reaching digital analysis possibilities offered by technological change, it is necessary to discuss to what extent and how long a relationship of responsibility lasts. Experiences of previous projects (including the project on the history of psychiatry, human genetics, medical child protection) show that, for example, transparency in how personal data and histories are handled is a prerequisite for many respondents to participate in research projects at all.
Against this background, this article highlights and discusses questions about the methodological, ethical and legal issues, resulting from oral data collection in the field.
Not least in view of the increasingly far-reaching digital analysis possibilities offered by technological change, it is necessary to discuss to what extent and how long a relationship of responsibility lasts. Experiences of previous projects (including the project on the history of psychiatry, human genetics, medical child protection) show that, for example, transparency in how personal data and histories are handled is a prerequisite for many respondents to participate in research projects at all. (Show less)



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