Oral History Interview & Importance Part 3

Selecting a Subject

Hamid Qazvini
Translated by Natalie Haghverdian

2017-05-01


Selecting a subject is one of the key steps in oral history interviews. Oral history interviews are either subject or individual based. Naturally, to selecting a subject requires great precision.

As it was said before, oral history interviewer shall not only have the spirit of inquiry and research but also have general and technical information on the subject and avoid any bios towards the individual and social and political events in question. Also, it is essential for the interviewer to have a good memory and high concentration and proper IQ for the job.

Meeting all such requirements, the interviewer, shall expand his perspective and not limit his attention to popular subjects. He has to avoid repetition and provide the future generation with new information. Hence, oral history researcher shall start with a definite objective and select his subject based on the history and targeted questions that are important for the future.  

 

Subjects Rarely Addressed

If oral history were a demographic way of contemporary historiography; then it shall provide the opportunity for manifestation of layers rarely addressed.

For instance, if the oral history of the Holy Defense has mostly covered the history of war itself then social, cultural, political and economic aspects of Iraq imposed war against Iran have to be addressed as well. Mothers and spouses of the armed forces, women active in supply of requirements of the fronts, drivers who attended the battlefields periodically, the wide range of soldiers who were titled unprotected trench makers of Imam Khomeini, aid collecting stations, mosques, governors’ offices in war zones and others, the government, the parliament, production and sales of oil and security of oil plants, collection of public aid, deploy of forces, legal and international diplomatic measures, media coverage (printed and IRIB), combat against militant groups, anti-revolutionary and the fifth column, city security after bombardments and enemy invasion threats, supply of public basic needs, multi-up of industries to cover was industrial needs, measures to prevent social harms of war, the Holy Defense cinema, measures to prevent harms caused by sanctions, measures for medical development, deploy of the wounded abroad, protection measures for Iranian war captives, protection of Iranians abroad, settlement of war displaced populations and addressing their needs, addressing the situation of the veterans and their families, etc. might all be a subject for research.

 

Local and Regional Subjects

Local and regional subjects are suitable oral history domains. Micro cultures, local traditions, history of places, domestic art and subjects as such are suitable for oral history studies. Specially that many of such subjects are forgotten and scholars of various scientific faculties and those interested in history and culture are far lacking resources in their studies in such areas.

 

Scientific Disciplines

One of the most important settings of oral history is the history of science and technology. Fortunately, one of the key features in the history of science and technology in Iran is its contemporaneity. There are many scholars in scientific fields who are the prominent features and intellectual capital of our society and vastly interested before or after retirement to record and share their experiences with other generations. Some of them have documents and notes in their personal archives which might facilitate the research of oral history scholars and prove memories; a solution shall be provisioned to preserve and exploit them prior to extinction.

 

Occupations

Various occupations are also suitable subjects for oral history. There are many ancient fields of occupation which have faded or been eliminated in the recent decades due to changes in life style and development of new technology. Oral history has high potential to preserve and record such occupations a portion of which falls under cultural heritage and Iranian civilization. It is in some cases even possible to address subjects in which the active agents have had innovations and creativity and have revolutionized their field of activity. Such information forms a piece of the national economy and recording them is important.

 

Art

Art is a subject with a wide range and deep links to culture, politics and social domains and covering its history will paint a picture of other aspects of a community’s existence.

 

Family & Tribes

Another subject which has attracted oral history activists in the recent years is the history of families and clans and tribes. Needless to say that throughout the history the family unit and its surrounding bigger cycle including the tribes and clans have been very important in raising and identification and formation and evolution of communities; hence there is abundance of subjects.

 

Conclusion

What was said merely represent a tiny fraction of various subjects to motivate the brain. Indeed, oral history scholars in selecting the subject of choice have to have a broad perspective towards their society and not limit themselves to prominent and repetitive subjects. His art is to uncover concealed layers not reciting and repeating the art of others!



 
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