When to produce interview text? – 2 (Finale)

Continuum of Oral History

Hamid Qazvini
Translated by Natalie Haghverdian


In the previous note it was stated that a challenging question for oral history scholars is when to produce or transcribe the interview recorded content? Is it to be done after the interview process is over or start parallel to the interview course?

In response to this question it was indicated that production starts not at the end but parallel to the interview, since finding the suitable narrator, selecting the subject and outlining questions are planned by the interviewer and conducted with a specific approach and precise objectives which are pursued during the interview.

It shall be stated that if the interviewer is the link in the chain connecting the narrator to the audience and is aware of concerns of both sides and their efforts today is a mean to address the needs of regulators, sociologists, historians, social psychologists and all those interest in historical issues in the future, then the interviewers design and targets shall be the turning point to start the content production.

Hence, knowledge of the interviewer concerning relevant aspects to the interview subject and his/her understanding of historical literature inform and enrich the questions and the outputs. It is basically the same individual (interviewer) who is well versed on the basics and essentials of the subject and the needs of the history and future generations which he/she acquires from the narrator during the interview.

On the other hand the interviewer is capable of assessing the accuracy of the narrator’s claim during the interview and inform him/her of his/her shortcomings which results in more accurate final content.

It is possible to compare the role of an interviewer to that of a “production director” in cinema; who designs the sequences and dialogues from the beginning and even chooses and directs the actors and follows the movie production both in form and content step by step from the beginning. This type of movie production is fundamentally different from those directors who receive the scenario from another individual and succumb to the interpositions of the producer and other actors. In fact, this second group compares to those oral history actors who delegate each stage of a project to a new individual and the scholar has no choice but to accept their interpositions in the production process and eventually the result is an inconsistent content with no specific goal. 

Hence, it should be stated that right from the beginning of the interview, the oral history process starts to finally reach to a historical content architected by the interviewer. Any diversion in the process not only changes the application of the content but it also hurdles the fulfillment of its main objectives.

In other comparison, oral history content production is similar to composing a musical piece which starts from its design and melody composition to its performance by musicians with various instruments. The whole process shall be a continuum otherwise we fail to have an interesting piece which absorbs and astonishes the audience.

When to produce interview text? – 1

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