Assessment of oral history and historiography of Pahlavi Supporters

10th Specialized Oral History Congress of Iran

Marjan Mirqafari
Translated by: Abbas Hajihashemi


Arts Center (Hozeh Honari) mounted the 10th Specialized Oral History Conference of Iran on January 26.

The conference, with the theme of the oral history of the Islamic Revolution, began with a review of the conference's previous editions presented by Mohammad Mir Kazemi, host of the program. The conference's first edition was held in the central city of Isfahan in 2002 the Institute of Contemporary Historical Studies of Iran and Association of Oral History.

The event was arranged in 4 expert panels where lectures by oral history scholars were delivered.

In the first panel, Mousa Haghani, scientific secretary, offered an overview of the Institute of Contemporary Historical Studies of Iran, saying the institute aims at perusing the history of Iran in the past 200 years.

"Iran's contemporary history is of great significance, due to the fact that the country's most prominent historical developments took place in Iran during the same era [i.e. the Islamic Revolution]," he said.

Speaking of the historiography of the Islamic Revolution, there are two main trends in narration of the events, he said; firstly it is the view offered by the survivors of the toppled Pahlavi regime, and secondly the one put together by those who toppled the regime.

He said 30 articles have so far been submitted to the secretariat of the conference and the interested researchers may submit their works by the end of the calendar year to March 20.

"None of the Pahlavi figures would assume a negative role for themselves in their works about the history of the Islamic Revolution," Jacob Tavakoli, historian said later in the ceremony.

He said such works look at the Islamic Revolution as a historic catastrophe which was initiated by foreign enemies.

Later in the one-day event, Ali Asqar Saeidi, researcher of historical studies, said delivered a speech about economic oral history.

"Oral history is growing in our society; however, its role is yet to be recognized while in western societies it has been taken seriously and reliable databanks have been put together about the oral history of industries, migrations and unofficial economies," he said.

Morteza Mirdar, historiographer, offered a review of a book entitled as "Wisdom and Politics; Memories of Dr. Seyyed Hassan Nasr".

Dr. Nasr is a Muslim traditionalist wit who enjoys an outstanding status among contemporary thinkers in the world of Islam.

"He owes his present recognition to in-depth studies of Islamic philosophy. He took numerous educational and academic posts during the Pahlavi era in Iran with the last one being the head of the office of Farah Pahlavi, the Shah's wife, before his lifetime journey to the US prior to the victory of the Islamic Revolution in 1979," said Mirdar.

Nasr took a job in George Washington University in the US which catapulted him into stardom in international academic arenas which resulted in the writing of over 500 book titles and scholarly articles on Islamic philosophy, Mirdar added.

'Wisdom and Politics' contains the transcripts of Nasr's interviews conducted by Hossein Dehbashi, director of the oral and visual history of contemporary Iran.

"Before the Islamic Revolution, oral history was not practiced as it is today," said another speaker of the conference, Javad Mansouri.

He said oral history practices developed a lot after the revolution and new methods were introduced and many major achievements were also obtained.

"In the 70s, numerous militias were formed in Iran which included the Islamic Nations Party which stood out of them in size and popularity," he said. "The party held regular secret meetings aimed at bring down the Pahlavi dynasty by clinging to armed combats. The party was established in the 60s and grew rapidly in the society. However, after the victory of the Islamic Revolution, none of its members thought of publication of their memories of the revolution days until 1993 that I did it myself. At that time I served as Iran's ambassador to Pakistan and began writing my memories of our fights against the Pahlavi regime. My memoir of the revolution opened the way for other members of the party to tell their memories of their activities in the party."

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