ORAL HISTORY WORKS AND UPCOMING PROBLEMS (1)

Mahya Hafezi
Translated By: Zahra Hosseinian

2023-8-30


In order to understand more about the problems of producing books on the subject of oral history or memoirs, the oral history website has conducted short interviews with some experts and practitioners, which will be presented to the readers in short notes and in several parts.

 

■ Haste

 

Haste is a big problem in research works, but it is more visible in oral history. This problem is more related to the clients. They think that after recording the memories, it is over. the public project managers and investors, on the one hand, and narrators on the other hand, seek to speed up the production of works, which damages the quality.

 

■ Cost

 

In many oral history projects, it is not spent as much as it should be. When the oral historian or the interviewer is paid small amounts, they have to carry out several projects at the same time in order to make a living, thus the quality will be reduced. When the interviewers hasten, a large part of the pre-study and field research and other stage to scrutinize the work will be removed. In compiling and editing, the quality is affected by haste, and perhaps supplementary interviews will be omitted. This method will lead the oral historian to produce low quality and cheap works.

 

■ Self-censorship

 

The lack of mastery of the oral historian on the subject, the lack of clear red lines for the publication of the work, and the unfamiliarity of those involved in oral projects will lead to self-censorship on the part of the interviewer and the interviewee, and the production of low-quality works without newfound. The application of individual tastes in the publication of the work can also be added to this problem.

 

■ Oversimplification

 

One of the characteristics of the oral history is that it seems easy yet difficult to imitate. The appearance of the task is simple, but its implementation is very difficult. Many think that if there will be a voice recorder and sit in front of a narrator, the oral history project has been done! Therefore, everyone allows themselves to enter the field of oral history. The public considers that doing a medical or engineering or economic affairs is only permissible for specialists, but this is not the case in the oral history, and many believe that it is possible to produce oral history works without having skills. It is well visible in some works published in this field.

 

■ False Explanations

 

One of the duties of an oral history compiler is to explain some words, terms and difficult points of the content so that the audience has a better and correct understanding of the work. This description, which is interpreted as an explanation, is written based on the needs of the audience and from reliable sources. Some researchers, either to increase the number of pages, or because they do not have a proper understanding of the audience, or their narrow knowledge, go from one extreme to the other in explanations. This problem is compounded when explanations are cited from weak sources or unreliable internet sources.

 

■ Weak Editing

 

The editor's lack of knowledge and expertise in the subject is another problem of producing research works. Adequate and correct understanding of the methods of compiling oral history, knowledge of permitted and unauthorized additions, using the appropriate writing style, respecting the tone of the narrator's speech and preserving its authenticity, using the appropriate vocabulary, and considering the audience's patience are the essentials in compiling a good work in the field of oral history.

 

■ The Volume of Content

 

Some narrators want their memoirs book to have more pages, and consider it as a sign of the importance of contents. Some editors have also fallen into this trap. On the other hand, some publishers try to reduce the number of book pages to save production costs. Adherence to scientific standards is a way forward in this field.

 

To be continued...

 



 
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