Review of "Importance and Function of Oral History in Contemporary Era"

Lets Teach Oral History through Scientific Method and Not Arbitrarily

Maryam Asadijafari
Translated by Ruhollah Golmoradi


Lecturers in conference of " Importance and Function of Oral history in Contemporary Era," pointing out that the meeting has been established with aiming at finding potentials and abilities in order to further cooperation in field of oral history, said that they follow scientific methods and see oral history as an effective tool in collecting and preserving oral information of people in different fields.

According to website of Iran oral history, the conference "Importance and Function of Oral history in Contemporary Era," was held by effort of personnel of Asar-khaneh museum, attached to Recreational and Cultural Organization of Esfahan Municipality, and speech of Doctor Mehdi Abolhasani Taraqi, a history teacher and researcher on oral history and Doctor Moloud Sotudeh, expert of National Library and  Archive Organization of Iran (NLAI) in Esfahan, in Central Library of Isfahan in the afternoon of February 18, 2017.


45 Years Oral History in Iran

Abolhasani announced at the beginning of the meeting from "Oral History Project of Esfahan market" and said: Although oral history has many caretakers in different areas, but the issue of oral history is a professional subject and the meeting has been hold aiming at finding potentials and capacities in order to more cooperation in field of oral history in Esfahan.

He introduced Isfahan as a "City- Museum" and added: we hope could record contemporary history of Isfahan as people see and say. Unfortunately, history in our country is considered just for amusement and filling time and we haven't seen history as a lesson of life and current guidance at all.

Author of "Oral History and Its Place in Contemporary Iranian Historiography" pointed out: if political and economic activist regarded their history, and if they read biographies of politicians, maybe they wouldn't be faced with multiple problems. Most successful people have had a look at their past and history.

Abolhasani, emphasizing 45 years oral history in Iran, expressed: Oral history is a completely scientific approach from the West that has been introduced in Iran since about 45 years ago. Islamic Revolution has accelerated this process and the sacred defense has culminated it. As most of productions of the revolution and war history are based on oral history.

He, pointing process of project of market oral history, stated: "after Nowruz 1396 AH (2017), directed by Recreational and Cultural Organization of Esfahan Municipality, we will begin workshops on oral history. However, the first oral history workshop was held by Isfahan Sepah in 2010. In this course, we will try to teach oral history based on scientific method and not arbitrarily.

The Oral History researcher emphasized: Our goal is following scientific methods. Our purpose is that present Isfahan history correctly and doesn't proceed arbitrarily and vulgar. Now project of Isfahan oral history is a major plan. In the first phase, we will work on oral history of Esfahan market and in the next phases on Revolution and Sacred Defense in the city.

Abolhasani at the end of his speech expressed his hope for finding people with skills of doing political, cultural and military interviews in Isfahan at the end of the meetings.


Oral History and Empirical Memory of Organizations and Institutions

In continuance of "Importance and Function of Oral history in Contemporary Era" Moloud Sotudeh, PhD of local history from University of Isfahan, outlined the cabinet statement in field of recording oral history of state organizations and said: areas of oral history are wide-ranging. We researched many years in NLAI among preserved documents of Qajar and Pahlavi and found that large amounts of these documents are not expressive. Accordingly, NLAI concluded that oral history of executives and officials must be recorded with archival documents.

He added that based on enactment of the cabinet, all executive agencies of the country are obliged to pass courses of oral history and recording it in their respective organizations. In administration system, human resources are the most valuable intellectual resource of any organization. In this way, experts and managers can transfer their important experiences other people in their organizations, make managing easy and reduce costs.

The Expert of NLAI in Esfahan regarded oral history as a means for recording collective knowledge and wisdom and said: it would be useful for current and future experts and managers. Oral History of bureaus would be effective for transferring experience and decreasing organizations weaknesses and problems.

Sotudeh emphasized: Analysis of initiation of forming an organization to necessity of its formation is first step in recording oral history of bureaus. Of course, question packs of each organization will be ready in terms of its requirements. Reviewing management of an organization from beginning until now is our most important goal in order to will be extracted challenges, barriers and solutions.

Emphasizing positive impact of the department's oral history on recognizing interactions of managers in different historical periods, he stated: analyzing these interactions is useful for localizing management practices. Oral history would cause making-value in organizations and institutions, and at the same time it improves conditions, makes economic savings and decreases recurring administrative mistakes. As well as, translating mental experiences and knowledge of people in form of text and document, will prevent missing empirical memory of an organization or institution.

In continuance, Sotudeh saw challenge of department's oral history collecting and making applied experiences and added: Of course, at the one hand, it will cause long-term influencing on organization and at the other hand, making transparent management practices, expressing factors of success, creating a sense of trust and sharing experiences.

Finally he stressed: oral history is an effective tool in collecting and preserving oral information of people in different areas. Each organization could use oral history based on its foundation, goals and its existence needs. Oral history of organization, not only at the level of organization, but also at the levels of city, provincial and national macro-management, has scientific and research usage.

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Another fried shared a memory. The memoirs of this friend is also published; however, I feel like the tone of the book was different. He was speaking smoothly but in the book it was as if a literary person was talking. One might think that the ambiance in the session resulted in such difference and it might be true; the story of the narrator shall be experienced under different circumstances to give a verdict.