Oral History Workshop – 3

Documents and interviews

Shahed Yazdan
Translated by M. B. Khoshnevisan

2022-12-20


The oral history website is going to provide the educational materials of some oral history workshops to the audience in written form. The present series has been prepared using the materials of one of these workshops. As you will see, many of the provided contents are not original or less said contents, but we have tried to provide categorized contents so that they can be used more.

 

Document

Since oral history is a history, it must be documented and quoted from a document, so here we claim that memory is a document; but is memory really a document?

In the past, up to about 40-50 years ago, written (paper) items were called documents, but nowadays oral workers call everything that has "indication" and indicates an event, incident, speech, or the like as documents. For example, when someone says "I went and targeted a tank", because his statement indicates an incident, it is a document.

Some, including the history professors of decades ago who traditionally think about this issue, do not agree with this definition. From the point of view of these people, these items are not documents but "evidence". These people do not accept anything but paper as a document, but nowadays, due to the spread of oral history, they have accepted in all the universities of the world that the traditional definition of a document no longer applies and we have an oral document.

Thus, from this point of view, memory "can" be a document.

 

Oral tradition

Oral tradition is the stories and proverbs that our grandfathers and grandmothers tell us, and these traditions have been quoted chest to chest from the past. But these cases have no reference and time. These cases are not considered as oral history, but are included in the category of oral tradition. These are customs that are transferred orally from one generation to another.

 

Interview

We said that the method of obtaining memory is the interview; but we have several interview models. In terms of method, interviews are classified into various categories such as written, telephone, fax, internet, etc., but the thing that answers our work in oral history is the face-to-face oral interview. This type of interview, apart from the interview technique, has also social customs. Because of this, the oral history interview will be difficult.

 

In terms of content, interviews are divided into superficial interviews and in-depth interviews. A superficial interview is a press interview; for this reason, reporters who interview people for the press are not necessarily good interviewers for oral history because an interview in oral history should be an in-depth interview. In a superficial interview, we ask the question to get the answer, but in an in-depth interview, we ask the question to get the answer and be convinced. In the oral history, we should not give up until we are satisfied because otherwise this interview will be a weak one.

 

Superficial interview →we ask questions →we get the answers

In-depth interview→ we ask questions→ we get answers→ we are convinced

 

For instance, if someone said: "We were two and took ten RPG rockets and went by a motorcycle and targeted twenty tanks..." we should be allowed not to be satisfied because in the best case, if all the rockets hit the target and nothing else happen, no more than ten tanks will be destroyed.

 

Or a sentinel of watchtower had said in his memoirs that during my watching in 24 hours, we took 24,000 dead from the enemy. Can you imagine if they put 24,000 dead together, what area is needed? Even if these bodies are placed in two or three layers, a lot of space is needed, which cannot be placed in the limited space of the war pad; therefore, one should not be easily convinced with what the interviewee said.

 

In oral history and by using in-depth interview, the interviewer is convinced; but in superficial (press) interview, the answers of the interviewee are just heard.

 

In oral history, the interviewer must also have characteristics such as having information dominance over the subject of the interview, because if he or she does not have enough information about the subject of the interview, he or she may not be able to be convinced. For this reason, the oral interviewer is said to be an oral "historian".

 

Supplementary interview

Since being convinced in an in-depth interview is of great importance, we need a supplementary interview. Compilation of oral history without a supplementary interview has no meaning. By using the supplemental interview, the points and parts that are missing from the initial interview or the ones that are needed to be reviewed and completed, will be corrected.

 



 
Number of Visits: 1515


Comments

 
Full Name:
Email:
Comment:
 

Nurse of Fav Hospital

“I didn’t see this event in Ayoubi Hospital, but I did in Fav Hospital exactly. At least once a day, we witnessed the flight of Iraqi jets from that area which came to strike the hospital. Of course, our forces poured so much dirt and sand on the concrete roof of the hospital that it became like a hill, and the guys could hardly understand the sound of the bomb and...

Report on the Fourteenth Conference of Oral History- 3rd and final part

Connecting oral history to the body of power is traumatic
According to the Iranian Oral History Website, the 14th Oral History Conference titled “Oral History on Scale” was held by the History Department of the University of Isfahan and the Oral History Association of Iran on Tuesday morning, May 14, 2024; professors, experts, and ...
A review of twenty years of oral history in Iran

Scientific and professional authority; perspective of Iranian Oral History Association

If a person has a personal library in his or her house, one or more oral history books are seen among them. In recent decades, the wave of book lovers has turned towards the field of oral history, and all this rising trend is owed to the activists in this field.

Boycott

A memory from Asadollah Tajrishi
At the beginning of my arrival in Evin Prison, I was taken to solitary confinement as always and after a few days, I was transferred to the public cell. The public cells had been located in two floors. The arrangement of these cells in the cells of 1355 and 1356 was such that on the lower floor, there was a ward ...