Oral History as a Scientific Method

Marjan Mirghaffari
Translated by Abbass Haji Hashemi


Dr. Ali Tatari, director of archive center of the Iranian parliament and a member of the Oral History Association of Iran, said plans are under way to expand the realm of oral history activities in state and private organs in the country.

The following is an excerpt of his interview on the sidelines of a specialized oral history seminar entitled as Oral History of Iran's Islamic Revolution (1962-1979). Tatari served as one of the organizers of the event.


-Please tell us about the background of the seminar as it is organized by the Oral History Association of Iran.

This was the 10th edition of the conference and it is nearly a decade that it is being mounted. Oral history is a scientific method for production and collection of documents in the world and is a fully endorsed discipline all around the globe. Most of the world's renowned universities have invested huge amounts on oral history programs for students in all graduate and post-graduate levels.

Despite the latent recognition of the field in Iran, a number of important breakthroughs have been achieved over the course of the past 10 years. This year, the conference brings together nearly 300 articles by oral history researchers and the first edition of Oral History Journal has been published by the Archives Center of National Library and the Oral History Association of Iran.


-What is the main theme of the conference?

The conference is primarily aimed at enhancing research on oral history and the number of regions and areas where it is practiced across the country. Strengthening oral history research is the primal goal of the conference. Every year a research center sponsors the conference. This year it was the Institute for Contemporary History of Iran. Other foundations like the Foundation of Martyrs Affairs, Isfahan University, and the Parliamentary Library, Museum and Archives sponsored the previous editions of the conference.


-Have such events been able to instill the status of oral history research in academic centers in Iran?

Yes, certainly. In the past few years, we were able to raise awareness about oral history as an acceptable method for collection of documents and data in humanities in fields like economics, culture and politics. Furthermore, a number of masters' and PhD theses based on oral history data collection methods have been provided in the years. As I told you, we have put together a specialized oral history journal whose first issue is about to be released. Besides, references to oral history interviews were not previously seen as veritable scientific accounts but today they are endorsed in scientific arenas.

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