Discussed with Ali Tatri

Majlis Library Oral History Log

Oral history, a path to inform history

Maryam Asadi Jafari
Translated by Natalie Haghverdian

2018-09-22


According to the Oral History Site, the Islamic Majlis with the chairs of elected representatives, has always been the key legislative body in Iran and has witnessed many historical upheavals. There have been many presented features in Baharestan[1], hence recording the oral history of the active figures in the Islamic Majlis before and after the Revolution has been critical for historical scholars.

Ali Tatri, the director of the Islamic Majlis Library, in an interview with the Iran Oral History Site, elaborated how the oral history department was established: “I recommended the establishment and it was then approved by Hojjatol Islam Rasoul Jafarian, the directory of the Majlis Library at the time. Since then, we have experienced many ups and downs. We had 4 directors before that with different tastes. Some were not interested in the development of the department however Hojjatol Islam Seyeed Ali Emadi, the new director of the Library, Museum and Document Reserve has generously supported the oral history department.”  

He added: “Within the past 10 years, almost 70 interviews were conducted with parliament representatives and other relevant figures which provided useful information. There are around 54 interviews with male and female representatives after the Revolution and a few from before. Some interviews are conducted in multiple sessions. We have few interviews with people other than the Majlis members of which I can name Hassan Rahavard, first assistant to Dehkhoda in compilation of “Dehkhoda Dictionary”. We have had interviews with the veterans in the field of documentation and donors of valuable documents.

This history scholar and professor noted execution of an agreement with various oral history institutes and centers and said: “As per the agreement we managed to collect audio and visual files of interviews with Parliament relevant features conducted inside the country and abroad. In this period we operationalized the Oral History Department with four experts however, due to management, it was closed for a year (2013-2014). The Department started its operation once again in 2017 and we are trying to establish a status for oral history in the Library of the Majlis.” Tatri indicated that some hardware and software issues were resolved this year and added: “we have recruited the assistance of an advisor who is now arranging the archives and files. We intend to start dissemination of information next year. Hence, our activities are diverse and extensive. We also hosted an oral history conference. We published series of articles for the 78th oral history conference this year and dedicated a section in Baharestan magazine to oral history.” He continued: “There have been management and budget issues which were the key elements to hinder the interviews with the Parliament representatives.” He said: “We wanted our efforts for this 10 years to be more. Fortunately, the current management of the library supports the concept of oral history. Iran Oral History Board of Managers meeting we recently held in the Majlis Library and we intend to be more active.”

Ali Tatri indicated that dissemination of information is the highest priority of this department and stated: “We endeavor to be able to provide information on the existing packages and series to the scholars and researchers by 2019 and start interviews with the Majlis representatives. Considering infrastructural weaknesses and budget constraints, realizing a high and ideal status in oral history in the Majlis is challenging; however we are aware of the importance of this field of activity.” This oral history actor stated: “Unfortunately, we receive the news of the loss of veteran parliament representatives every month which is undesirable. We endeavor to start interviews to have documented and systematic interviews with such representatives.”

Ali Tatri with 19 years of experience in the Document Center of the Majlis Library said on the importance of recording the oral history of the parliament representatives: “Since the beginning, one of the missions which I have considered for myself, is to research the history of the Majlis and the Legislature. Oral History is one means of document production. Where there is gap of information, oral history can be applied to complement our documents. We know that a powerful and effective Majlis with informed legislation based on the public needs shall steer the country towards improvement and development. Lack of historic awareness, is a dilemma for the Majlis in legislation, supervision on the enactment of such legislations and conduct of responsibilities by the representatives.” Manager of the Document Department of the Majlis stated that historic illiteracy is a key dilemma and stated: “One way to inform the parliament representatives is to present the past experiences to prevent repetition. Oral history is one key means. I have been working on legislative pathology for years. Lack of historical awareness is a serious issue. Many representatives are unaware of the Parliament background in Iran. We have 112 years of parliament history which is unique in the world and oral history is the best way to promote the performance of the Islamic Majlis.”

 


[1] Baharestan is the district in Tehran where the Majlis complex is located.



 
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