Oral History Interview & Importance Part 1

Oral History, Path to Cultural Dialogue

Hamid Qazvini
Translated by: Natalie Haghverdian

2017-4-19


Recording memories is a vital endeavor which is called “Oral History” in case conducted through active and targeted interviews.

In this method of historiography, isolated and marginalized social groups get involved in record of history and culture and define a new role and status for themselves; hence, oral history is perceived as a demographic method of historiography. In fact, the main and key characteristic of oral history is interaction with communities, groups, events and life style of ordinary people of which we have heard and read less. It might be said that oral history has a critical role in establishing dialogue between “communities” and the “general society”; a dialogue established be recitation and recording the history of various communities and events.

Also, culture and history of a nation includes all the elements from the lowest layers to the highest levels and various political, social, etc. groups. In such circumstances, the status of non-governmental or specialized institutions and centers is more pronounced; especially when they can afford to pursue their responsibilities free from any political affiliation or function and purely based on cultural objectives and provide opportunities to preserve the history and culture of a society.

Oral history, indeed, is a path for cultural dialogue between members of a society and shall have a crucial impact in political, social, economic and cultural arenas, especially in a society like Iran where oral culture is more prevalent than written culture. Involvement of the members of the society with their past and documentation of historical information while preserving history resolves some historical doubts and ambiguities.

On the other hand, this style of historiography opens new thematic domains and offers novel approaches to the researchers and due to its interdisciplinary nature affords to cover and elaborate cultural, social, economic and political aspects.

The other characteristic of this type of historiography is that the literature published in oral history domain has a smooth prose and establishes a close connection with the audience and is consequently more successful in attracting and interacting and impressing the audience. Obviously, the larger the number of oral history activists and literature means greater impact.

 

Individual or Subject

In a general overview we might categorize the thematic domains of oral history into two categories of “individual oriented” and “subject oriented”. In the first form, the narrator(s) life is studied and effort is made to receive his/her memories and experiences in different periods of time and concerning various events. Books on memoirs of revolutionary characters and commanders in the Holy Defense and scientific features are examples of this category.

In the other group, scholars of oral history, consider recording memories concerning a specific subject. In this domain subjects such as Holy Defense Operations, important events during the Revolution, shooting in a Revolutionary Institution and others are to be stated.

Each category is important in its own right and there are similarities and differences which will be discussed in future notes.

 



 
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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.

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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

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