Permanent editing in oral history

Maryam Asadi Jafai
Translated by Natalie Haghverdian


Dr Morteza Nouraee, during the final session of the first professional training course on Oral History Based on Popular Culture Approach, explained the ways in which oral history is edited and emphasized: "I do not think that editing is the final stage of oral history. Editing is the thought that engineers research from scratch. In this sense, a project must certainly go along the path that the editing thoughts want. So editing is not necessarily a delayed phenomenon, and it is a priority, although its name comes to an end."

According to the Iran Oral History website, the last session of the first professional training course "Oral History Based on Popular Culture Approach" was held on Thursday, November 10th, 2018 by the Center of Isfahanology and the House of Nations, with the lectures by Dr. Morteza Nouraei and Dr. Valiallah Mossayebi in the hall of the Center.


Public Culture: National Treasure

At the beginning of the meeting, Dr. Morteza Nouraee, referring to the fact that so far there has been less concern with oral history in culture, said: "People like the anthropologists have been investigating in this regard, and most historians and oral history researchers supported by institutions and special organizations have attended to public culture. However, so far, it seems that for folklore has to custodian with the capacity to support and plan the goals related to popular culture in the country. Popular culture provides solidarity, companionship and common sense. Common sense is the same as popular culture. Sometimes, everyone may gather around a ritual and ceremony and show their emotions and sympathy. We need this sense continuously at the national level. Undoubtedly, there is a great influence on feelings and popular culture. Public culture should be looked at nationally, not ethnic. What is produced in the advent of Shahnameh or the literature of Hafez and Saadi is the same popular culture. Popular culture is a national treasure. Public culture custodians are the scientists of the country. By designing their twenty-year and long-term programs, they must continuously produce, retrieve and enrich public culture and provide more solidarity and empathy.

The United States passed the Federal Writer's Project in 1935, during the great recession that led to World War II. 7,000 unemployed American scholars and writers employed in a broad public research effort at all levels of the United States at low cost for livelihood. In this way, much literature has been written, especially in the field of popular culture, which is still very important for their production in the American archive for the recognition of American society and federal research. This story is for the pre-recording era. The plan was completed for four years, but all oral history historians refer to the group's interview. The multiplier effect of this plan, in addition to entrepreneurship, was seen most of all in the area of ​​solidarity, common sense in times of crisis, and ultimately, the creation of necessary groundwork for popular culture in various ways; solid, rich and inspiring treasures. "


Lost Worlds in Oral History

He went on to outline the various aspects of editing in oral history and added: "Editing is directing the interview information to finalize the production of the text. I think the four critical priorities in editing: "storage or archiving, screening, production of narration and interpretation." In the first place, each interview is stored in a specific category, such as the gender and type of interviewee, the occupation of individuals or subject matter. In this regard, archiving is required at the national or private level, which is part of the editing. Undoubtedly, the classification and archive, both facilitates access and the production of multiple texts.

"Screening" also means that we deal with false, repetitive, or in-depth interviews in many interviews or interview topics. These are sophisticated tools. Therefore, the screening determines correctness, or completeness of the interview. We may conclude by screening that we once again interview individuals, or conduct supplementary interviews, or we can conclude that some parts of the recording of the interview were inadequate. So screening comes with storage and eventually archiving.

"The production of narration" is the third most important aspect in the development of oral history. The key question is whether the outcome of the interviews produces a narrative? Sometimes the research and interview are done for archiving. If this is the case, the editing is completed at the archiving stage. But when we are interviewing for the production of the text, production is prior to the archive. At this stage, our interviews may be complementary. That is, we are interviewing to fill some of the written gaps and completing a discussion. But sometimes it's the opposite: interviewing is done to produce a narrative. In the narrative production discussion, we need several interviews. Paul Thompson is the founder of the world's scientific oral history. He wrote a book Edwardians: The Remaking of British Society before 1918, about family and work in the UK with 500 interviews. This book was published in 1975. His most important work is The Voice of the Past, which deals with the methodology of oral history. Paul Thompson is the founder of the third stage of oral history. Oral history has two stages until the 1970s, and this is the third stage. First, oral historians are looking to rebuild events.



In the second stage, they seek to interpret the events, and oral history is in the third stage is made scientific, and it is drawn to the field of universities, and the research methods are adopted. At this point, they will go to the lost worlds. Finding the lost events is a debate; but in the lost worlds you are faced with a range of guilds or groups like workers who have no news of it and they call it the "lost world." In other words, multifaceted topics are in the form of a subject package. As addressing popular culture in such an attitude leads to its multifaceted representation.

Thomson in Voice of the past, for the first time, a book in which he mentions cohesive research and begins the methodology of research. Since then, advanced methods have been found. Of course, after 2000, the greatest focus on oral history research is on events. In popular culture, there is a phenomenon that you follow. Sometimes it becomes tall or dim, sometimes its influence and geography are vast, sometimes limited and enclosed."


Editing is not that last stage.

Dr. Nuraiee, with the question of "Do our interviews produce a narrative (story)?" He said, "I do not think editing is the final stage of oral history. Editing is a thought that engineers research from scratch. In that sense, a project must necessarily follow a path that this path requires editing thoughts. So editing is not necessarily a delayed phenomenon, and it is a priority, although its name comes to an end.

Sometimes, we are exposed to an archive of oral history that we should listen and use them. Sometimes, we will do our own interviews. So when we are thinking about editing, the first step is to set questions for an interview. This is a step in the development. Our suggestion is that for the open interview or for closed interviews, there are about 10 main or axial questions and around them, there are several subset questions. We should keep in mind that we have two types of editing: "Project Editing and Process editing". Project editing means thinking from the outset to what we want to produce? Your path is set in project editing. You may want to study some cultural difference in various regions of Isfahan. You know from the beginning that you have to go to discussions that overlap. You may encounter a closed question pack. You do not have a lot of questions and questions are very specific and definite. Editing thinking for project topics is much easier. But in process editing, you do not know the content from the beginning and the geography of your research is unclear. That is, you need to see what happens in the interview at the end. For example, we do not know what the impact of popular culture is on the type of warfare of the soldiers of the Holy Defense or today's social activities? Of course, in the process editing, the basis for the research may be clear. You may interview a couple of people with the Snowball method; but the question is open.” Dr. Morteza Nouraee, continued: "The research of human sciences is either hypothetical or problematic, it is a temporary speculation that is being proved or disapproved in research. So the research is done around this hypothesis. The hypothesis of research is because of the background of studies. This is a preliminary study, you assume a phenomenon and then research. So hypotheses determine the path to the research. But since the preliminary research does not provide enough information to guide the researcher, this research goes on to question, and the assumptions of this research are in the end. This kind of research is a question, such as research on social activities, anthropology and oral history. If you enter the oral history hypothesis, the murder will happen to you. Because you have hypotheses, you are looking to prove or disprove the hypothesis. While question-oriented research allows you to develop information and ultimately use the "qualitative research theory" methodology. I have written an article on the use of qualitative research in oral history. We do not have a hypothesis at first. We bring all the studies around the focus of the questions and put the key word. Bringing keywords to the central words, to sort and categorize a few topics. If you make a hypothesis in oral history, when you go for an interview, you end up with it and you do not allow the interview to go deeper and the focus is not more important than the text of the interview."


Necessity of Transcription

The professor of history continued: "Given the fact that oral history is conducted with open research, you may encounter a new phenomenon at any moment. We recommend that if the narrator went to the margin during the interview, you cannot even stop talking. Editing here helps us look wider. May not be part of the interview, extract the same component for the future.

The other part of the compilation is the body of the interview we talked about before. You set up a list of people. There may be up to 100 people, and then they will go to certain settings, and many will get low or high. By doing this, you are actually developing. So the interview itself follows your editorial thinking.

Another step in editing is implementation. Implementation is another part of editing. Implementing an interview to get raw material, screen it, and enrich it to get a basic narrative. Being prominent in these issues will increase the breadth of work and scope; at least in your own domination, look at it from different angles. In the discussion of the questioning, interview, and implementation package, we are looking at whether a basic narrative can be extracted?

You may have been involved in an event or region for many years in popular culture. So you have to be bored. Because some research - especially in popular culture - is very time consuming. The popular culture of the sea is very rich.

There are a few points for the editor. An editor, interviewer or designer may not be inquiring. Editor's work is all about documentation, and the first issue is project engineering. In fact, the interviewer pays attention to all the interviews and designs them in a special way, placing them first and foremost. So mastering the geography of the subject is very important. It must be timely, something that is not out of sight of the interviewees. "Entry into the compilation of guesses", especially at the time of implementation, is one of the most dangerous debates.

"Registration of the interview with the documentation" is an important point in the compilation. The documentation may be complementary or in conflict or at the intersection with the interview. That is why we say that many of these published works are not oral history. Many of these books are oral interviews and oral memoirs. In oral history, it may take two to three years to deal with the subject matter of the subject, so that when you interview, the person is verified. This testimony is effective in producing a basic narrative. So a compiler needs to continually see how much conversations and outcomes are, and how much they are supportive of each other. The easiest thing to do is go, get an oral memoir of someone and it's easier to put “oral history” in the back. Today, oral history has the best of the market, and anyone does this, while it's difficult to formulate it.

In many projects, designing questions, interviewing, and implementing are tailored to different people. Categorizing work in a broad oral history project is logical. Of course, the implementation of oral history interviews requires training. Do not guess at implementation. That is, if the word is inaccurate, write "inaudible". A word may be close to your mind and the word returns the entire path of the research. The path to editing is determined by the needs and requirements. Today, all people who offer oral history offer you the effect they need to produce. This is the same statement as the result of the interview. "

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