Oral History Interview & Importance Part 4

Narrator Identification & Selection

Hamid Qazvini
Translated by Natalie Haghverdian

2017-05-07


As discussed before, oral history is a participatory process in history development so that different information concerning political, cultural and social events are recorded and published in a targeted interview. It is important since the perspectives and narrations of a number of people are gathered in recording historical events.

Under such circumstances, to avoid repetitive interviews and in order to receive new information, it is essential for the oral history scholar to identify and select the narrator with care and wisely based on the intended subject. It is possible to realize this very task by seeking advice from others. It means that informed people introduce narrators and support the scholar in accessing new narrators.

Obviously, the scholar has to adhere to the following:

1- The oral history scholar shall be well versed and dominant on the subject of study and identify and select narrators based on clear understanding and recognition of the diverse aspects of one single subject.

2- Selected narrator shall have sufficient information and direct observation on the issue and avoid interviewing individuals that base their arguments on rumors and personal analysis. Unfortunately, in some cases, lack of access to credible narrators or in order to finish the oral history project, interviews are conducted with people who have no direct memory of the intended incident and provide unverified information which is no answer to the questions of the scholar but promotes ambiguity.

3 – Interviews shall be, if possible, conducted with people who have a good recollection or are in a condition that reminding a piece of information triggers and revives their memory of the concerned incident. Inadvertently, loss of memory will result in citation of bogus and unverifiable information.

4 – Interview with people known for mendacity, falsification of truth or denial shall be avoided.

5- It is essential for the narrator to have memories and information pertinent to the subject of study. It is due to the fact that interviews in subjects irrelevant to the main cause not only have to contribution in addressing research needs but tarnish the concept in general.

6- Physical, psychological and emotional state of the narrator shall be taken into consideration. Once the narrator lacks required health, insisting on interview will result in irritation and hardship for the narrator and his/her immediate family.

7- The narrator shall not be subject to any legal, political, security and judicial restrictions. Such constraints affect the interview and defect its richness and might even cause problems for the scholar.

8- The narrator shall not be divergent towards the subject. In some cases, despite direct observations and being full of information, some problems coinciding with the intended incident or occurring immediately after might result in divergence and change of attitude which corrupts a realistic and careful interview.

9- To the extent possible, individuals selected shall have a positive attitude towards the interview and responding to the questions and consider it a historical necessity.

Oral History Interview & Importance Part 1 - Oral History, Path to Cultural Dialogue

Oral History Interview & Importance Part 2 - Characteristics of an Interviewer

Oral History Interview & Importance Part 3 - Selecting a Subject



 
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Oral History Interview & Importance Part 4

Narrator Identification & Selection

As discussed before, oral history is a participatory process in history development so that different information concerning political, cultural and social events are recorded and published in a targeted interview. It is important since the perspectives and narrations of a number of people are gathered in recording historical events.
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Oral History Interview & Importance Part 3

Selecting a Subject

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.