Mahya Hafezi
Translated By: Zahra Hosseinian


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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Heads of National Front Meet Imam

On ninth of Aban, 1357 (October 31, 1978), misters Dr. Karim Sanjabi, Haj Manian and Mahdian came to Paris from Tehran to meet the Imam. Dr. Banisadr, Mr. Salamatian and Haj Ahmad [Imam's son] was also present in their first meeting with the Imam. After greetings, Mr. Sanjabi who had been sitting next to the imam, started talking quietly - almost whispering; suddenly, the imam pulled their heads back and said:

Secret campaigns

Sedigheh Amir Shahkarami the narrator: we were two sisters and three brothers who started secret campaigns against the regime during the Shah and in order not to be arrested by SAVAK (secret police), we had a covert life during the years 52 and 53 (1973 and 1974). At first, Mehdi and Mohammad Amir Shahkarami were the members of the Mujahedin Organization. But after a while, they realized the deviation of their beliefs, ...

Establishment of Islamic Revolution Central Committed as narrated by Alviri

At this time (Bahman of 1357 – February 1979), grouplets such as Peoples Fedai Guerrillas and Mojahedin Khalq Organization misused the mayhem of the country, storing a large quantity of weapons in their team house. Even when the Imam ordered the people to hand over the weapons to the mosques, instead of handing over their weapons to the mosques, these grouplets built a headquarters and took the peoples weapons and stored them.
A cut from memoirs of Iran Torabi

Preparation of Soosangerd Hospital

We arrived in Soosangard around noon. It was the 21st day of Mehr [1359] (October 13, 1980). The situation of the city was almost the same as Ahvaz, and even worse. There was dirt and destruction everywhere. The city had almost been deserted. As Ahvaz Red Crescent had said, the city was still within reach of the enemy and no place was safe from their artillery and mortar fire. We rushed to the city hospital.