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The Soviet Past in the Post-Soviet Present: the ethics of oral history and memory studies. The conference has its origins in a roundtable discussion at the ICCEES VIII World Congress in Stockholm in July 2010 on ‘Researching Women’s Lives: Official Perspectives and Lived Experience’. The roundtable touched on a number of as yet unexplored issues relating to the ethics of conducting oral history when researching women’s lives in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. 

At the beginning of the twenty-first century, historians and social investigators are making increasing use of oral history methods to explore the realities of everyday life in Eastern Europe under the Soviet regime and for analyzing present day memories of the Soviet past. The use of oral history helps researchers to identify a broad range of responses to life under the Soviet regime both in what is said during interview and what is not said. Oral history is a useful tool for exploring life history, but the interview may sometimes result in what appears to be a rather incoherent, inconsistent or illogical narrative of an individual’s life story. Thus, we aim to link our discussion of the ethics of oral history methods in the specific Eastern European context with the emerging area of memory studies.

Memories are shaped by a variety of factors and may be, simultaneously, both consecutive and disrupted. Post-Soviet and East European respondents may display a specific sense of nostalgia for the Soviet past, or, conversely, may seek to de-mythologize in their accounts of real life under Soviet rule. Interview subjects may consciously, sub-consciously or unconsciously seek to forget aspects of their past lives, including what may sometimes be read as traumatic experiences, to
engage in a process of selective amnesia or remain silent about the ‘blank pages’ in their own life stories.

Conference Programm

The Conference “Gender, Science and Democracy” is an event organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania and the Nordic Council of Ministers Office in Lithuania within the Programme of Lithuanian coordination of Nordic Baltic Eight (NB8) cooperation in 2012, and to be held on June 21-22, 2012. The event reflects the intention of the Lithuanian leadership in NB8 coordination to support constructive work and initiatives in the areas of particular concern for NB8 participating States, including the issues on women’s rights and gender equality.


The goal of the event is to continue Lithuania’s commitment to keep the issues on women’s rights and gender equality on political agenda while contributing to the implementation of the national as well as international decisions and undertakings concerning subject matter.


The Conference is a 2-day event, consisting of 3 plenary sessions, and the practical interactive part in the form of a GenEqualityCamp. The first plenary session “Why Gender Equality Matters?” is dedicated to present and discuss the issue of gender equality education from the state level perspective, with a special focus on the best examples of respective policy formation and implementation, as well as lessons learned. The second session “Higher education as Precondition to Gender Equality” concerns the role of higher education when dealing with gender equality issues (e.g. gender equality ‘friendly’ university curriculum, educators’ adequate performance, graduates’ awareness and sensitivity to the subject matter, etc.). The third session “Innovative Methods and Good Practices” concentrates on best examples of different means and media for gender equality education (e.g. art, media, interdisciplinary field, etc.). Presentations will be made by experts in subject matter (NGOs, academia, politicians), followed by discussions. The GenEqualityCamp is expected to be an interactive area for informal meetings, exchange of ideas and plans for further joint activities, and a point for networking.

The event will combine unique experiences of different regions and cultures, as well as will promote best practices and outline guidelines for further initiatives.


Representatives of governmental and non-governmental sectors, academia from NB8, EU Eastern Partnership, Mediterranean region, Middle East and African countries.


Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania
Nordic Council of Ministers / Office in LithuaniaPartners
Center for Equality Advancement (NGO, Lithuania)
Women’s Democracy Network, the International Republican Institute
Vilnius University Gender Studies Center (Lithuania)
European Platform of Women Scientists
Union for the Mediterranean

Conference agenda

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