A Report of the 2nd Conference of Oral History(2)

10 April 2011

The forth session

The second day of the second conference on oral history was held at 9 AM just the same as the first day. Beginning with the national anthem followed by Quran recitation, it consisted of 4 panels. Four conferences were planned for this day.
The heads of the Forth conference called "The Function of Oral history" were Alireza Kamari and Morteza Nooraie. Gholamreza Azari Khakestar, the first lecturer on the second day of the conference, was an expert in archive interview at Oral history Department of the Organization of Libraries, Museums, and Document center of Astan Quds Razavi. He presented his paper called “Oral history in the Service of War: a Review on the Oral history of the Renovation of Hoveizeh)”. He said:

"Renovation of war zones is a significant subject in Oral history. With the help of the ones responsible for this issue, oral history scholars’ attention can be drawn to this issue. Hoveizeh in Khuzestan is one of the regions occupied by Iraq. After the liberation of Hoveizeh, in line with Imam Khomeyni’s emphasis on the renovation of former war zones, Astan Quds Razavi ordered for the renovation of Hoveizeh which took place from 1361 up to 1364.
If we review the transformation which Astan Quds Razavi went through after the victory of the Islamic revolution, we would see that the renovation of Hoveizeh was one of its important projects. While the country was in an imposed war, the Astana was trying to renovate Hoveizeh. The renovation of Hoveizeh is a sign of a generation who despite the war cared about the prosperity of the nation; a generation of warriors who, despite the hard weather conditions and the bombardments in Hoveizeh, worked hard, without any expectations, reconstructed Hoveizeh with honor. Hoveizeh which, was once destroyed completely, with the sacrifice of revolutionary people, once again came back to life and gained stability."

After presenting this article Dr Nooraie emphasized:"serious intellectual labor must be done on oral history". Alireza Kamari announced: "Iran was the first country to start renovation. He continued: "Other than Hoveizeh, renovation of all war zones is important. After, Azari khakestar's note, Mehdi Abolhasani presented a record of his trip to Prague and International Oral history Association. Abolhasani, stated that the prominent themes of the conference in Prague are holocaust, politics, economics and Eastern bloc after the collapse of Soviet Union. He also thanked the Isfahan University and oral history association for the role they played in sending him to this conference.
The last lecturer of the forth conference was Dr Emadeddin Fayazi, the head of the department of history of Azad University in Shahr Ray. His paper was about the role of the martyr Hasan Bagheri in early stages of war; He presented his article called ‘the Narration of a War Leaders: major general, martyr Hasan Bagheri” and said:

"Oral and written memory records the influential events of history. Important events never are forgotten after a long time. These events, present the past and precious experiences, which can assist people who live in transition periods.
Years after the war, historical documents can familiarize us with the situation which we never saw. Among all the documents about the war, memories narrated by the ones who participated in the war are indeed the most illuminating documents with regards to the events and situation of that period.
The eight year war between Iraq and Iran is one of the most significant conflicts worldwide in the 20th century. The war caused tremendous change in intellectual and cultural currents of the time. Among the historical documents of the war period, leaders’ dialogues and notes are the most important documents to examine. Reviewing these documents not only enables us to present a more comprehensive image of war but also, enables us to spot the turning points and crucial moments of the war. We can discover much which was lost because the chaotic and instable situation of the time. Furthermore, we can present minute-by-minute perspective of war by concentrating on the chronological order of the events of war. The present and the future generations who don’t have enough knowledge over war can figure out the reality of it, its hidden angles and its unique identity by referring to these oral documents.
This paper focuses on oral documents about the life and the extraordinary character of martyr Hasan Bagheri. These documents are among the many interviews and memoirs left behind from this period."

Dr Nooraie went on stating: "If a claim cannot be proved, then it is just a memory; it is not considered as an oral history document." He then added: 
"If we want to transform an interview from the form of memory into to an oral history document, it should be accompanied by much other evidence."Alireza Kamari explained about martyr Bagheri and activities done by a committee named after him. He said: "commander, Fatollah Gafari, has done a lot of research about martyr Bagheri. He has delivered the results to Baghri committee." Kamari, also, talked about the nature of memory. He then suggested that oral history could be actually called whispering history."

The fifth session

The fifth session of the second conference on oral history started at 11 AM intensively and continued till the noon prayer. The academic supervisors of the session were Morteza Rasooli and Ali Tatari. The main theme of the session was "The pathology of oral history".
The first lecturer, Mohammadali Heidaridelgarm, presented his article called "The pathology of Oral history: negligence in acknowledging the holiness of the constructiveness of the war in oral history". In his lecture he noted:
"It’s been a long time that I have witnessed the debates on the war in cultural and defense councils; In the present paper, I have discussed the interview in oral history, finding criteria of interview, understanding the sacredness of truth in progress, neglecting oral history and the meaning of pathology of oral history.
Gholamreza Azizi, the executive secretary of the session, presented an article called "The pathology of oral history: the boundaries of memory":
"Although, the tradition of oral history in Iran, goes back to the early years after the Islamic revolution, the publication of collections and packages as oral history document has accelerated significantly recently. Nowadays collections such as the oral history of Iran's modern literature, the oral history of Iran's architecture, the oral history of Gilan, the Oral history of cities, dubbing oral history are published and, collections such as the oral history of Iranian music, the oral history of cinema, the oral history of comedy theater, the oral history of set design in cinema and theater are in early stages of development to be published."
It seems that theoretical discussions on oral history have not yet been evaluated decently in Iran. This has blurred the boundaries between oral history and collecting memory, writing biography.
Aside from offering a definition of oral history, the present paper tries to demonstrate the blurriness of boundaries in theoretical concepts and some published works.
Mohammad Nazarzade, who assisted Mohammadreza Bakhtiari with his article named "The oral history of noble men", presented a summary of Bakhtiari's article in his absence:
"Although noble men are significant subjects after war, responsible centers do not pay enough attention to it. A single memoir of Iranian prisoners in Iraqi camps is among the few works that has been done on them. Close investigations on the aspects of these works show that there is much more to scholarship to be done on these subjects. This article, according to a 300 hours project in the field of these noble men, in the Documentation Centre of Astan Quds Razavi, tries to explain the correct method of investigation, the present problems in the project and the value of informational."

The last session

Because of time limitations, the authorities, decided to mix the two final sessions of the second conference on oral history; Dr Shahramniya and Mahdi Abolhasani chair men of this session.
Mohammad Hosseini, a faculty member of the Azad University of Shahrood dedicated his lecture to "the function of oral history in ethnography of lost communities in history" and said:

"It is as if the early stages of historiography could not accommodate oral history because of its nature. Resources that are as old as the day of creation live in the heart of the history as a notebook which gives a sense of a collective consciousness of the passage of time, of nations and governments which saw many events and ups and downs.
Many information and events in history are not visible to historians or the current political situation does not let for them to be articulated are transferred to future generations in audiovisual form by oral history so that these information are recorded and future generations can become aware of the condition of events that have happened in the past.
There are also many oral history documents in our era; whether in the form of memory or, people's narrations of work and groups away from government's authority, such as Baseri tribe that were active in Koomesh for a half century after the constitutional revolution (1906 -1955), but in written resources there is no trace of their activities. But with the aim of this resource, condition of Baseri' tribe was clarified and research results in the form of a book was published with the name of "Baseri's Tribe in Koomesh". Importance of these resources will be clear when written resources fail to present unknown and forgotten social, political, and cultural events. Therefore, oral history is responsible for the revival of the unknown."
Reza Hajabadi was another lecturer of the session who presented his paper "The oral history of imposed war, necessities and opportunities":

"The culture of tribes and nations are constituted of major changes in social and political lives. Certainly, epics and achievements of every nation, has caused the pride of future generations and these epics are seen as the cause of life, activeness and eminency of that nation.
Important information that can make people familiar with former generations and narrate valuable stories indicating values, manners, and the personal and social life style of people of a special period, is the cultural heritage of that society.
The role of narratives told by observers of great events in describing unrevealed aspects of social life of a nation is clear to everyone. Oral history as an oldest way of recording history in recognition and enlightenment of thought of different parts of society especially generation that cannot access the culture and special situation of that time is so important that nowadays a great part of archive and documentation centers is spent on production and recording of different oral documents."
Rahim Roohbakhsh who initiated the oral history of education last year and was stopped by his contestant, presented his paper "The axis of questions in the oral history of educators".
The summery of his lecture is as follows:
He said:

"while preparing and editing the project of the oral history of educators, during doing research on resources of oral history and studying books and articles related to educators memory, specially, in the time of activities such as the student-teacher day in the education system in the country, I prepared a project called "The axis of questions in the project of editing the oral history of education", so that it can be used by the people who have signed the contract. Main titles were as follows:
A: Birth and family
B: Childhood and student era
C: Observations and believes toward peripheral issues
D: Military service (for men)
E: Teaching time
F: Culture, ideology and politic
G: Other items
In the last part, some questions have been designed for teachers who have been active in educational centers of soldiers in war zones or cities."

Gholamreza Darkatanian was the last lecturer who presented his lecture called “Reasons of the Iraq imposed war against Iran":

"This article investigates reasons behind the Iraq imposed war against Iran on the basis of interviews with senior leaders and military elite who were active in events of that time. The situation after the victory of Islamic revolution in Iran and the loss of military and strategic balance in the region, are important issues dealt with in this article. Usually, from the military point of view, war between two countries starts when forces lose their balance, and this was what happened in Iran at that time.
With investigating different ideas about this subject that Iraq Regime before military operation and attack to Iran intended to create fear and terror by creating insecurity in Khoozestan, explosion in public places and oil wells; and pretend that Islamic republic of Iran cannot bring about security in cities and mentally prepared a situation to separate some part of our beloved country and join it to Iraq. Although they had planned for their actions and were united with world arrogance but toddling transplant of revolution and country respectability were protected against enemy's plot by resistance of Iran insurgent people with leadership of Imam Khomeyni and plans of world arrogance were failed."

The last part of the second conference on oral history

At the end of this ceremony, there was a workshop held with the cooperation of Dr Shahramniya, Mahdi Abolhasani, Morteza Nooraie and Alireza Kamari. Some questions were answered by the audience; then Dr Nooraie presented a summary of six sessions of two days of conference and indicated the difference between memory and oral history.

Maliheh Kamaleddin
Translated by: Fereshteh Keshani

Number of Visits: 5131


Full Name:

Loss of Memory in Pahlavi Prisons

In total, [I was in prison] about 6 years in two arrests. For the first time after several years, a soldier arranged my escape. I do not know why! Maybe he was one of the influential elements of Islamic groups. They took me to the hospital for the treatment of my hand, which was broken due to the callousness of an officer.

Hajj Pilgrimage

I went on a Hajj pilgrimage in the early 1340s (1960s). At that time, few people from the army, gendarmerie and police went on a pilgrimage to the holy Mashhad and holy shrines in Iraq. It happened very rarely. After all, there were faithful people in the Iranian army who were committed to obeying the Islamic halal and haram rules in any situation, and they used to pray.

A section of the memories of a freed Iranian prisoner; Mohsen Bakhshi

Programs of New Year Holidays
Without blooming, without flowers, without greenery and without a table for Haft-sin , another spring has been arrived. Spring came to the camp without bringing freshness and the first days of New Year began in this camp. We were unaware of the plans that old friends had in this camp when Eid (New Year) came.

Attack on Halabcheh narrated

With wet saliva, we are having the lunch which that loving Isfahani man gave us from the back of his van when he said goodbye in the city entrance. Adaspolo [lentils with rice] with yoghurt! We were just started having it when the plane dives, we go down and shelter behind the runnel, and a few moments later, when the plane raises up, we also raise our heads, and while eating, we see the high sides ...