It was released

Theoretical and Methodological Issues of Oral History

Roghaye Aghabalazadeh
Translated by Ruhollah Golmoradi


Recently book of "Oral History: Theoretical, Methodological Issues (Basics)" was published by Office of Resistance Culture and Studies of Provincial Centers of Hozeh Honari and Soore Mehr Publication. According to author of the book, Faezeh Tavakoli, this 176-page book had been compiled from 2011 to 2013 and sent for publishing until it was released at the beginning of 2018.

It was stated in the introduction: "Oral history as complementary of contemporary historiography considers many aspects of human existence and human relationships that are not identified by a quantitative tool, and through qualitative approach, according to human experiences, attempts to consider the dimensions from perspective of people who have experienced a subject or event. In compiling this book, the author, using qualitative research method, draws a framework in all stages of the work including compiling and typology of questions, interview and its stages, and compilation and narration and discourse analyze. On necessity of discussion of oral history and its development, it should be said it has not passed more than a decade from oral history_ as it is currently practiced at abroad university centers_ span. In Iran, also, some research centers, which are listed at the end of the book, have addressed the area that is worthy of praise. But so far they have not found their deserved place in academic centers. One can say that reason of neglect in relation to oral history, in addition to being novelty of this method, is a lack of experience, skill, and enough belief in oral history; because process of transformation in science has always been and is gradually, and acceptance of new methods has always been resisted and is time-consuming."

This introduction also emphasizes that oral history tries to avoid merely relying on different theories of historians on contemporary historiography. As well as, through interview and dissection causes and factors influencing emergence of social phenomena and developments, it approaches a comprehensive explanation of various perspectives and protects itself from damage of one factor approach and one-dimensional of historian or narrator, and complete and correct written contemporary historiography.

This introduction also points out that oral history researcher should deal with issues, interview and develop oral history with enough knowledge and dominance, and not be just means of narrator's recording; rather, by asking key questions and challenging discussions arising from critical thinking, can address to make as clear as topics. Because oral history in formulation of contemporary history is fully functional and necessary, and compiling narratives of politicians and activists of social and economic spheres, and analyzing their narrative and discourse plays a very important role in revising performance of governments and policies.

"Oral History: Theoretical, Methodological Issues (Basics)" has seven chapters. In the first chapter, the author, while expressing meaning of oral history and its distinction with oral tradition and memory-writing, expresses its importance and necessity in contemporary historiography and states background of this research method. One topics of this chapter is definition of oral history from perspective of researchers of this field, some of which are: "Oral history is the most traditional way of retelling history; the history that is said not to be written;" "Oral history is a process that helps people to recognize concept and historical understanding of the past." "Oral history is a way to bring people who have not previously been involved in creation of their past documents. It is an opportunity to popularize nature of history, not only by interviewing them, but also by seeing them."

In the second chapter, important oral history tool, interview, is explained. The author refers to definition of the term interview and its nature in oral history and also objectives of interview; that interviewers should know interview with whom for a particular subject, and after selecting relevant examples, which steps he/she must know to take? Which questions and how to pose them? The author emphasizes in this chapter that interviewer would be better promoting his position to a historian and create such an awareness in interviewee too so that interview change from dialogue and something like news interview and ultimately oral memory telling into a historical dialogue and narrative and transforms its nature. The interview process is described in four steps and that interview may be conducted by a group; in this case, interviewer should control interview and be sure of quietness of space to record high quality voice. He/she also ensures interviewee that everything is confidential and uses a simple language to ask questions, and at the same time be a good listener.

The third chapter includes topics related to body language and its importance during interview; because physical movements and non-verbal communication in oral history interview play a significant role in communication between interviewer and interviewee. Even aspects of these movements can play a more fundamental role than verbal skills in communicating and replacing verbal messages, or reinforcing verbal messages, or even acting in reverse and rejecting verbal messages. Reference Theory, which Wilhelm Wundt introduced, states that the most primitive mode of human communication is sign and hint that comes with hands. Such a language is natural and synonymous; as even today, when we call someone to our side, in addition to literally speaking a word, we accompany that word by moving hand.

The fourth chapter begins with the statement that "in oral historiography, there is no wall between past and future; but it is a bridge that connects past history to the future." In the following, it states: "In oral historiography, three important factors should be carefully considered: interview, research standards, and method. Observing scientific and special principles in interview and its process is one of the most important parts of oral historiography. But research standards should be considered in works of oral historians. They should measure evidences, evaluate all resources and collect documentations. Implemented text of interviews and their content analysis, along with personal notes, photos and memoirs need requirements that are referred here. "The issues are addressed in titles such as content analysis, conversation analysis, problem statement, literature review, etc. in chapter Four. This chapter also states: "historian of oral history must consider three basic responsibilities during oral history work: a) responsibility for interviewees; b) responsibility for society, public opinion, and its historical career; c) Responsibility for supporting (custodian) and archival institutions."

In chapter five, strategies and criteria for validation and generalizability in oral history are presented, and in sixth chapter, principles and standards of International Oral History Association. In final chapter also important centers of oral history in Iran and the world are accounted.

Number of Visits: 229


Full Name:

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:
An interview with Zahra Sabzeh Ali about her book “Deldadeh”

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:
About Oral History Production

To Maintain Questions or Not? Is crucial

Production and final setting of the interview content is an important aspect and the oral history scholars have to be well versed on the details and act responsibly. The following have to be taken into consideration: