The sixth virtual meeting of oral history of Iran

Methods of Compiling and Writing Oral History – 5

Compiled by: Iranian Oral history Website
Translated by: Fazel Shirzad


Note: The 6th oral history meeting was held at the clubhouse and the historian's room on Saturday, January 15, 2021, under the direction of Dr. Mehdi Farahani Monfared and performed by Mrs. Mosffa. In this meeting, Dr. Abolfazl Hassanabadi, Dr. Habibullah Esmaili, Dr. Seyed Mahmoud Sadat Bidgholi, Dr. Javad Abbasi, Dr. Mehdi Abolhasani Targhee, Ali Mohammad Zamani, Dr. Ashraf, and Dr. Nazila Khalkhali spoke about editing and compiling of oral history.

Ms. Mosffa then invited Dr. Abolhasani to continue the discussion.

Dr. Abolhasani: Because I am a teacher and a teacher should go to class with a lesson plan, and learning is two-way, that is, I am the student and a student learns from me. First of all, since Mrs. Dr. Khalkhali spoke, I would like to say that it has been three meetings that friends from all sides are entering the discussion, I don't know why the discussion is drawn to Mr. Dehbashi's work. It is better to have a general meeting to review Mr. Dehbashi's work in the presence of Mr. Dehbashi himself so that it can be dealt with and the time of the meeting will not be taken up.

The second point is that since the discussion was on editing and writing methods, I did not enter into other discussions myself; But just to inform Ms. Dr. Khalkhali, I say that they can also search so that they don't think that another article has been written. I had two articles extracted from the thesis; One is "differences and distinctions between memoirs and oral history" [[1]] and the other is "oral history and oral tradition" [[2]] where we talked in detail about different aspects and methods of work. Because tonight the discussion is on editing, I did not enter into this topic at all. In addition, other listeners and interested people who come may like to talk more about the subject.

But regarding the same point that Dr. Khalkhali said, there was an interview with the late Najaf Daryabandari that you must have seen. When we interview a historian, writer, researcher, doctor, and others, we can consider two issues. That when we talk to a doctor, let's talk about medicine, medical concepts, medical work, and their expertise. One is that we want to see how this person became a doctor. In what course did you study? Where did you study? What were the conditions like? When they talk to Najaf Daryabandari, most of the interview is about concepts and the topic of translation. , very little (I would say not at all) has been discussed about the history of translation in Iran. In my opinion, it is not appropriate to apply the name of oral history to the interview with Najaf Daryabandari.

For example, an interview with the late Professor Zarinkoob or the late Professor Abdul Hossein Navaei focused more on concepts. I emphasize again that we can say that this interview is an oral history if it is based on historical data. Therefore, the work that you do in a great job can be two parts or one part. If you are only working on teaching the Persian language, methods, problems, etc., it cannot be called oral history, but the fact that the different periods of teaching the Persian language before the revolution and after the revolution, the problems and challenges that it had, the damages that it had, The involvement of politics in this matter, cultural issues, cultural consultations, if we examine all these in the same context and historical context, and at the same time we also discuss the concepts and categories of Persian language teaching, yes, this is appropriate and worthy and should be applied. It is also called oral history.

Certainly, some friends even brought the history of oral history to the beginning of Islam and the history of Tabari, which is not the case at all. Oral history taken from an active interview is a conscious challenge of the interviewer that is recorded; this portable recorder has come and made it possible to conduct interviews everywhere. This recording can be audio or video. It is different from quoting from others, reminiscing from others, a memory of other people's writing, and from a memory of one's writing. It is different from the oral tradition which has been the bed and conduit and channel for the transmission of our cultural elements.

It is important that those who enter this field without paying attention to these theoretical and theoretical issues and the foundations of oral history do a lot of damage. Unfortunately, our voice does not reach anywhere and we are just spectators.

The works come out without paying attention to the platforms I mentioned and seeing the differences between them. Even in mouth-watering works like Harvard, you even see this reminiscence. A short question and 3 pages, 4 pages of answers, and full of mistakes; from spelling or compositional errors to gross historical errors we see. Now anyone wants to be an interviewer, Habib Lajurdi, Zia Sedki or Shahrukh Meskob. Their characters have a special place in our history. Their place is reserved in the history of our culture and our cultural history. But maybe their place as an interviewer in those plans was not appropriate and correct.

Mrs. Mosffa: Thank you. Mrs. Dr. Khalkhali, do you have any orders?

Dr. Khalkhali: Yes, I wanted to say that I do not do oral history. I was not going to include my work in the history of oral artists. I gave an example and said, by the way, contrary to your last statement, Mr. Dr. Abolhasani, that the character of Dr. Meskob has his personality, or, for example, Mr. Lajordi, I was talking about something else. My argument was that if the interviewer works in the field of sports, he must be a sports expert, and he must know the history of the period that he wants to work on, for example, wrestling, and know what he is working on. Last time we were talking about the oil industry, they said that we were sending someone for an interview who had read all the past and history and all the files at least to some extent and was noble. I don't do that at all. Because I don't even know. I do not consider myself a historian either.

I say that the interviewer should direct the work. It doesn't matter if someone has a Ph.D. in history. As we say when we are talking about a doctorate in history, the expert side is the Safavid period or the Sassanid period, or the Achaemenid period. In the contemporary period, someone who talks about sports, the oil industry, politics, about anything he wants, must be an expert. I should not ask personal questions. I meant this. We want an expert in oral history. My question was why the interviewer's expertise is not discussed. The interviewer should give direction and not allow the interviewee to pull him in any direction he wants.

Dr. Sadat: I had two or three points. One is that according to Dr. Hassanabadi's instructions, should the oral history be published when it was done? It depends on what purpose the oral history is being done. Mr. Dr. Hassanabadi said for archiving or for publication. Some oral histories cannot be published. One of the tasks that the editor must do is to validate the narrator's statements, and this validation or verification is sometimes necessary using documents, and when the narrator's statements are recorded, the documents corresponding to these statements have not been published yet. Therefore, in my opinion, some works of oral history should be kept for the future until documents corresponding to these are published. It is then that the narrator's statements can be validated and published.

The second point about compilation is that when we compile oral history about people who are people from the lower classes such as workers or urban dwellers, we don't have much problem with the discussion of the analysis. But when you talk to a university professor or a person with a mind and you want to ask him about an incident and you want to get the eyewitness report of this person, sometimes this eyewitness report, for example, this professor, an incident happened in Tehran University And he was a witness to that event, his report is the same with his analysis. This means that the blogger will be caught in this. That is, a part of these talks is the report of this person and a part of these words is the analysis of this person.

If there is a gap between the time of the interview and the time of editing, perhaps this analysis is the posterior analysis of this person. or even about what he has done; Maybe if a period has passed, and when the work is given to him for the last time and he wants to see this work for publication, maybe now from the point of view of a person who is completely established, from the point of view of a wise person He looks at the things he did in his youth and wants to change that text or add new analyzes to it, which are also retrospective. I will be very grateful if friends talk about these. Two points seem to be helpful in the editing discussion.

Dr. Abolhasani: I emphasized this point in my speech. Expertise, expertise, expertise. Both a scholars of history and an expert on contemporary history. The fact that a person is interested in a course until he wants to go and work without expertise is two different things. I know a person who studied for a doctorate in ancient history and then published a book called oral history. I won't say the title now. So how can this be justified? What is your specialty? If you studied contemporary history, then where do you study ancient history? So expertise comes first.

Of course, studying, discussing life and having open experiences are very important. In the case of local history, what I emphasized in my article is that when we want to compile contemporary local history, in the discussion of local history, if we want to use the mechanism of oral history, if the person is a native, for various reasons, the answer will be better. Therefore, it is important to have the expertise, to be a scholar of history, to know the research method, and to discuss the formulation and standards that we want to define. If the party does not know the research method if s/he does not know the basic principles if s/he has not read the works written in this field, how can s/he work in each of these steps?

Therefore, what Dr. Khalkhali said, yes, expertise is necessary in every part of it. That is, in contemporary history, political history itself becomes a separate field; Social history becomes a separate field; History of culture in the same way. Otherwise, what is produced, if there was no haste regarding publication and these were archived on top of each other, would have been collected, and later, while we did not miss opportunities, data would have been accumulated and there was also the opportunity for verification? Documents are produced in parallel over time. Again, the same expertise that person has will be also used in the editing stage.

Dr. Monfared: First of all, I would like to thank all my friends. From Mrs. Mosffa's work, she worked hard and did a lot of coordination work. Mr. Dr. Sadat, who was a guest at this meeting, was gracious and accepted. Likewise, Mr. Dr. Hassanabadi, Dr. Esmaili, and Dr. Abolhasani. I thank everyone. There are articles about many of these discussions in the Historian Telegram channel that I posted today. Including one of these two articles mentioned by Dr. Abolhasani. If they want to read more, they can see those articles.

Each of these loved ones, friends, and professors who spoke here has years of experience in research and writing in these fields, and there are documents, books, articles, and writings that they can refer to. Naturally, we cannot expect a lecture or something that will clarify all aspects of a topic from a meeting on the Clubhouse platform. As soon as various aspects are pointed out, these aspects are discussed, and the audience even gets confused in their minds and finds enthusiasm for reading, I think the desire and purpose of these meetings have been fulfilled.

For my part, I would like to thank all the friends who spoke on the stage and all those who were in the audience and heard. I hope that we can expand these meetings in the future in such a way that we can talk about the details of some of these conversations that are raised in these meetings, independently and in detail, and listen to the conversations of them.


The End


[1] Nurai, M., Abolhasani Targhee, M., “Analytical comparison of memoirs with oral history”, Ganjineh Sanad Quarterly, 80 series (Winter 2009).


[2]Nurai, M., Dehghan Neiri, L., Abolhasani Targhee, M., “Analytical Comparison of Oral Tradition with Oral History”, Historical Research Journal, No. 4 (Winter 2019).

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