Oral History of the Revolution in Department of Hozeh Honari of Provinces-2

Academic Attention to Oral History

Interviewer: Faezeh Sasanikhah
Compiled by: Mohammad Ghasemipour
Translated by: Fazel Shirzad


Note: Since its establishment, the Culture and Sustainability Studies in the Department of Arts Center of Provinces has attempted to collect and publish the oral history of the Islamic Revolution and the Sacred Defense in different provinces and cities. To get acquainted with how this center was established and with its activities, especially in the field of the Islamic Revolution, Mohammad Ghasemipour, the head of the Culture and Sustainability Studies center in the Department of Arts Center of Provinces, has been interviewed to review the performance of the center and to know its goals and perspectives. The Capacity of People Narratives was the title of the first part of this interview. The second part follows.


Were there cases where you tried to complete it but did not get the desired result?

Yes. We tried in somewhere, but it didn't work perfectly.  We had, for instance, a project called Oral History of Hekmat High School in Kerman. It is recorded in history a few months after the coup of August 19, 1943. The Americans had cultural cooperation with the governments of that time known as the Truman Principle 4, which included moving cinemas to disadvantaged areas. The cinema was moved to provinces such as Kerman and Sistan and Baluchestan, and Hekmat High School in Kerman was one of the prominent schools there. One day in the fall of 1953, a family movie from Hollywood cinema was shown at that school. As soon as some nasty scenes are broadcast, the audience, who were religious people, revolt. it was the atmosphere after the coup; therefore, when the slogan "Death to America" was officially chanted in the United States, and the audience, who were mostly students, disrupted the cinema and broke the devices, the police intervened, and several teachers were arrested.

The researcher of this project was educated person in Master of Arts and as a doctoral student, and he was extremely experienced and skilled in his work. A limited number of witnesses for that incidents were found. One was a young projectionist who lived in Tehran at high age, and one of the police officers was over 85 years old at the time. The names of the witnesses were not registered and we could not find the rest. That is, the number of ideas we wanted to turn into a book did not reach more than 27-28 pages. We agreed with the researcher, who was an artist, and the oral history of mobile cinema in Iran is now ready for publication. The event of Hekmat High School in Kerman in the 1930s is discussed in a part of this book.

Why do you think there have been so little works in the way of collecting memories of the decade  1950s and 1960s?

It is very simple, we do not appreciate history, we do not understand the history and we do not know the value of history for the future. For instance, you can see this in the movement of officials in organizations. As if everything done by the previous manager was wrong, we must be careful to do the right thing. To do the right thing, we must know the way we have gone.  We don't have an academic and official Oral history in our country and written historiography is not active enough. Written historiography cannot be acted quickly to achieve results. It takes time to conduct research, prepare documents, verify and document them. We need to pay attention to oral history academically, that is, the university should be a productive source of knowledge in this field and approve and support the theoretical discussions of this science. Today, for example, we think about nuclear energy, but nuclear science has been taught in our universities for over 70 years. In 1941, when Iran was occupied by the Americans, a physics student understood what nuclear energy meant. The theory of atomic fission was taught at the same time, Dr. Hesabi was a student of Einstein and began teaching in 1935, but oral history is still not taught in our universities and when it is not taught, it has no output, when it has no output, the scientific departments also support it. Its source is the belief of the university. Of course, our universities in the humanities often do not play their role as well as developed and advanced societies. Interviewed with 300 prisoners, through clinical psychology interviews, held in Nazi camps in Europe, on what plans should be designed for their future, they concluded that significant portions of their careers were history-based and useful to history, and referred to the history department.

A large part of the answer to your question goes back to the fact that history has experienced ruthlessness, and it does not matter how much this science can act as a beacon for the future, and of course, they think less about it, and there is a lot of opportunity and talent that are being wasted. The owners of our memories are passing away without their information to be gathered. This careless argument is not limited to the revolution. we were suddenly thrown into the era of modernity from the age of tradition, and we went through the era of tradition to modernity very quickly, and we needed art and effort to record this period, we got involved in World War II, governments were unstable and the economic situation was not good, there was the space between modern and neo-modern or postmodern. The Iranian community has gone through several major decisive events, such as the nationalization of the oil industry. Those who are 90 years old remember that period, many of them may be physically disabled but mentally are able.

To what extent has the Art Center of provincial affairs been able to communicate with universities? How much did he try to share his findings with the university atmosphere?

We have been successful in some parts and not in others. For instance, Dr. Hossein Asgari, a professor of history for Universities in Alborz province, worked on the Islamic Revolution in Savojbolagh. He has a project related to the history of the Alborz Islamic Revolution, I don't know whether we can say that it is a connection or an overlap or an association with the university or not? But he is from the university, teaches at the university, and collaborates in the project of the oral history of the revolution. In the work project on the oral history of the revolution in Chaharmahal Bakhtiari province in the city of Shahrekord, there are male and female researchers, all of whom are university professors. Generally, the university is not very much under the contemporary chronicles in our country. Theses and proposals for this work are not supported at all or there are faults in the works. I have seen, for example, the book, "Da" was reviewed. There is a book with a golden cover and title" a Review of the Novel Da" Supervisor, Adviser, the names of three university professors with doctoral degrees are written on it, but no one says that the book is not a novel, but it is a memoir.

But, when we could not enter the oral history into the universities, let me give an example. We now have several researchers in Arak province who are all masters of history and three volumes of the history of the Islamic Revolution have been published in Arak and volumes 4, 5, and 6 are being prepared, approved, and published.

Why don't history professors accept this work?

Some suppose that it has no historical validity! In such a situation, of course, the Arts Center of that province will not be welcomed by these.

Do you have a training course in your plans?

Our priority has been education. We have tried to train an interested and literate researcher in the field of oral history, and we have not been biased in the field of war and revolution, and we have not separated thematically. We are not recruiting and our organizations cannot employ forces or contract them for ongoing projects. We knew we were training the citizens of this country to work for themselves in the future. Those who work with us are either young people between 25 and 30 years old who are interested in doing research; while they are studying, or they are retired teachers, graduated students, university professors, and if they are supported, they will be more effective. One of the participants said frankly in the workshop:

Is making documentaries in the provincial affairs programs?

We usually say that the approach of our offices should be such that they provide content that can be used in theaters, cinemas, etc. In Markazi province, for instance, a documentary was made based on an oral interview with a martyred mother, which won awards at festivals. In some provinces, other projects have been carried out, including the production of documentaries.

■Explain the short-term and long-term goals and plans of the Islamic Revolution in the affairs of the provinces.

This requires policy stability. Planning must be realistic. Now the provinces have reached relative stability and self-sufficiency in terms of having trained and specialized personnel. In the managerial changes and transformations of the Arts Center in 2020 and recent months, the preparation and dissemination of the transformation document of Arts Center’s deputy of the provinces are on the agenda, which in its serious strategies "Development of geographical area and quantity of oral history productions" and also "Creating a movement to produce native content" can be seen using the oral history method. We will begin the second decade of culture offices and sustainability studies in provincial centers through the mastery and special attention from the general management of the Arts Center to record the memories and experiences formed in the field of culture of resistance, sustainability, and jihadist and justice-oriented movements based on redesigned planning and roadmap.

■Thank you for taking your time to have an interview with the Iranian Oral History website. 

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