Oral History Interview & Importance Part 1

Oral History, Path to Cultural Dialogue

Hamid Qazvini
Translated by: Natalie Haghverdian

2017-04-19


Recording memories is a vital endeavor which is called “Oral History” in case conducted through active and targeted interviews.

In this method of historiography, isolated and marginalized social groups get involved in record of history and culture and define a new role and status for themselves; hence, oral history is perceived as a demographic method of historiography. In fact, the main and key characteristic of oral history is interaction with communities, groups, events and life style of ordinary people of which we have heard and read less. It might be said that oral history has a critical role in establishing dialogue between “communities” and the “general society”; a dialogue established be recitation and recording the history of various communities and events.

Also, culture and history of a nation includes all the elements from the lowest layers to the highest levels and various political, social, etc. groups. In such circumstances, the status of non-governmental or specialized institutions and centers is more pronounced; especially when they can afford to pursue their responsibilities free from any political affiliation or function and purely based on cultural objectives and provide opportunities to preserve the history and culture of a society.

Oral history, indeed, is a path for cultural dialogue between members of a society and shall have a crucial impact in political, social, economic and cultural arenas, especially in a society like Iran where oral culture is more prevalent than written culture. Involvement of the members of the society with their past and documentation of historical information while preserving history resolves some historical doubts and ambiguities.

On the other hand, this style of historiography opens new thematic domains and offers novel approaches to the researchers and due to its interdisciplinary nature affords to cover and elaborate cultural, social, economic and political aspects.

The other characteristic of this type of historiography is that the literature published in oral history domain has a smooth prose and establishes a close connection with the audience and is consequently more successful in attracting and interacting and impressing the audience. Obviously, the larger the number of oral history activists and literature means greater impact.

 

Individual or Subject

In a general overview we might categorize the thematic domains of oral history into two categories of “individual oriented” and “subject oriented”. In the first form, the narrator(s) life is studied and effort is made to receive his/her memories and experiences in different periods of time and concerning various events. Books on memoirs of revolutionary characters and commanders in the Holy Defense and scientific features are examples of this category.

In the other group, scholars of oral history, consider recording memories concerning a specific subject. In this domain subjects such as Holy Defense Operations, important events during the Revolution, shooting in a Revolutionary Institution and others are to be stated.

Each category is important in its own right and there are similarities and differences which will be discussed in future notes.

 



 
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Memoir Verification

One important question concerning publication of oral history literature is the extent to which the narrator is to be trusted? Is it the obligation of the oral history scholar to verify the memories? Is the scholar allowed to argue with the narrator? Does such literature fit the criteria of an historical resource?
Convoy Narrator of "When Moonlight Was Lost" on the Last Day of Fall

Memory Is "I", Let us Think About "We"

Ayatollah Khamenei wrote a letter of congratulation and condolence for martyrdom of Ali Khoshlafz, the sacred defense veteran and narrator of "When Moonlight Was Lost (Vaghti Mahtab Gom Shod)" on December 20, 2017. The letter is as follows:
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Memory-writing for the sake of social impact

The seeing of a small photo from martyr Alireza Mahini prompted Zahra Sabzeh Ali to collect the memoirs of this martyr who was from Bushehr and a commander of irregular wars. The result of the work is presented with the assistance of the Art Center and Sooreh Mehr Publications. The release of the book “Deldadeh” or beloved became a pretext for the website of Iranian Oral History to have an interview with her:
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To Maintain Questions or Not? Is crucial

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