Interview in Oral History of Sacred Defense-1

Mohammad Mahdi Abdollahzadeh
Translated by Ruhollah Golmoradi


According to many experts, interview is the heart of oral history and plays the role of the first brick in oral history. It is the same principle that necessitates even for people who have experience and knowledge in this field to acquire more knowledge, and modify and complement previously used methods. This necessity is more evident when we re-examine the interviews that were not conducted with the necessary standards.

Using the study and experiences from numerous interviews during twenty years, compilation and professional evaluation of several works in this field, and the expert opinions of thinkers who have worked theoretically and practically in this field for years, I present briefly and practically some points about interview in the oral history of the sacred defense in this article.


What should the Interviewer do?

Interviews are important in the oral history of the sacred defense, and we should make effort the few opportunities that are provided have the desired effect. Oral history, as a knowledge and skill, requires interviewers who have the appropriate knowledge, insight, personality, and skill. In this way, they can start the interview with thinking, providing necessary preliminaries, and a detailed plan. Such interviewers have the end in mind from the beginning of the work, and their every action in this process is purposeful; They never naively think that we ask something and the interviewee will give an answer, and after that, based on his answer, we will ask another question and continue the work in the same way.

The interviewer of the oral history of the sacred defense must have at least a brief knowledge of the sciences related to this field. Also, in terms of personality, he/she should be a person with medium to high intelligence, fast-moving, has a searching spirit, fluency in speech, motivated, has the ability to establish human relationship, being polite, well-groomed, patient, and ethical.

The interview process in oral history is full of ups and downs. That is a qualified and experienced interviewer who achieves goals of the interview. For example, one of the characteristics of an interviewer is his patience. If, during the interview, the narrator insults a character who is favored by an impatient interviewer, the interview will be derailed from its goals; however, a patient interviewer will not react.

Also, an interviewer who has a searching spirit and knows the value of his work, will not be discouraged due to the breaches by the interviewee in attending the interview sessions, and he/she will overcome this problem in a logical way.

Although there are different research methods in different sciences, their similarities are more than their apparent differences. Researches have almost the same principles and steps. Therefore, the interviewer should be familiar with the general research method in different sciences. In that case, with a road map and appropriate questions, she/he can only look in the interview sessions for the materials that are within the general research questions.

A qualified interviewer tries to activate the interviewee’s memory in a field and causes him/her remembers things. In other words, the interviewer with knowledge of the subject helps the interviewee to recall his memories in order to express them in a logical order. These interviewers are aware of the fact that oral history interviews are fundamentally different from other types of interviews, such as job interviews, counseling interviews, journalistic interviews, psychotherapy interviews, police interviews, and even memoirs. This type of interview aims at producing an oral history text. The goal is to create an oral document that is actually done through an interview, and the interviewer also participates in this production.

The knowledge and science of oral history helps the interviewers to choose and implement the interview style according to their skills, knowledge, and also the personality of the narrator and themselves. Each personality is unique. Therefore, the interviewers should acquire knowledge in these fields and benefit from the experiences of others. In this regard, one should never imitate the style and method of other persons. It is only permissible to model appropriately the style of others in improving the interview method. The interviewer should choose the general proposed principles according to the three important variables of the narrator, the type of memories, and the circumstances. Those who imitate the method of others will not present a satisfactory result. Therefore, self-knowledge of the interviewer is very important.

Before starting the project in the field of oral history, some points should be considered. Considering personality of the narrator, the subject, and our abilities, knowledge and skills in the field of the subject, we should assess whether we can handle the project or not. Starting a work that does not match our conditions will not have a favorable result. On the other hand, such failures will have an adverse effect on our self-confidence.

The historian should pursue the subject or topic that he/she is interested in and has worked in that field. The interviewer should not enter unknown or inconsistent fields only with the intention of completing the task without considering the aspects of his/her work, skills, and personality. Interest makes him/her patient in the ups and downs of the interview, and unexpected events as well as unforeseen problems. It is in that case that he/she, with perseverance and patience, follows the work until reaching the desired results. It should be noted that interest is different from bias. The interviewer must maintain his neutrality throughout the process. By observing professional ethics, he must observe trustworthiness in the research. Also, the oral historian should address the subjects in which he/she has the ability to obtain the necessary data. Of course, it should be noted that it is not desirable or necessary to enter into some aspects for moral, Islamic, and social reasons.


To be continued…


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