Human Being and His Memoirs

Human Being and His Memoirs

Seyyed Abolfazl Razavi, PHD in History

Translator: Dr. Nader Mirsa’eedi


Although oral history is a relatively new approach in historiography, its background goes back even to the pre-civilization age and the invention of writing and many nations would obtain their historical identity by oral quotation of events. Also the first sources of the great historians such as Herodotus, Thucydides, and Plutarch have been these very oral narrations of witnesses of events.

Among the causes for the approach to this approach in contemporary world, one can refer to the invention of advanced AV facilities, changes in the philosophy of historiography, partnership of mass media in politics, and increasing public participation in government. For more study about this matter, read the following essay:


Importance and Background of Applying the Subject

History is the collective interaction of human beings in past, and the science of history considers the recognition and analysis of these interactions with the aim of improving the today’s life of human being. The duty of recognition and analysis of human beings passed interactions is the job of historians; and they accomplish this important matter by interpreting documents. By thinking about the evidence (documents) and interpreting, historians try to answer their questions about past events. So, as much as abundant are the amount of documents and accessible sources used by the historian, the extent of their thoughts and questions about past that they would propound, would be more and this important subject has great share in the promotion of the history science and the greater connection between past and present. This is also the point where the Oral history (or in better words: the historical sources taken from oral approach in collecting historical documents) finds its importance in historical studies. Irrespective of amount of using this documents in recognition and interpretation of past, oral approach sets abundant documents before historian and helps him in recognition of different dimensions of human interactions (and structural dimensions in which these interactions have happened) from this point of view it finds doubled value. Historical data help scientific nature of history when they help the historian in answering those questions that he does not know their answers; from this point of view, the data obtained from recording interviews and taking films and the descriptions about events, relics and buildings, are more beneficial for the historian since they are alive and more dynamic and they also have the ability of transferring the dominant discourse of the time of happening events or the time of making relics to the historian and by paving the way for more conversation and interaction between the historian (interviewer or the user of interview) and the other side (the interviewee or the person who has been present in the event or a witness of it or making a relic) reaching to more suitable answers to his questions. The importance of obtained documents about human interactions and their share in comprehensive and more real approach to the collective interactions of human beings becomes more touchable when we remember that the dawn of human historiography in Greece in the 5th century B.C. (in the light of Herodotus and then Thucydides historiography, in a way that paved the way for the creation of history science and the appearance of historiography sources) was based on such method. In Ancient Greece, the historical documents that historians such as Herodotus and Thucydides established their interpretations about past on them, were consisted of the eyewitnesses’ narrations about the events. Documents were eyewitnesses’ narrations and the historical method was the extraction of historical matters from them. However, Herodotus and Thucydides did not accept these narratives blindfolded and by using customary methods in courts of justice and criticizing the witnesses in these courts (i.e. by criticizing these eyewitnesses and by making many questions in order to reach a complete and arranged historical picture for clearing up different aspects of the reports) were able to reach their data.[1]  This aspect of the importance of oral data in historiography is related to its share in creation of the history science and the early manifestations of historiography. Before the 5th century B.C. at the time when the heritage of the collective life was an oral one or even after the invention of writing that the human being accessed to the writing culture and left written historical sources from himself, the share of oral approach in human history and its importance in the protection of his heritage was great and his cultural and civilization achievements remained preserved in this framework. Before or after the invention of writing, for a long time, according to religious motives and the kind of holiness that human believed for his religious principles and since he knew it disrespectful making them written and considered learning the religious and social heritage by heart from person to person as his important duty and was not very fond to making it written. Furthermore, at all ages the behavior of ruling classes, directly or indirectly, prevented the writing of important and effective parts of historical events or these events were written according to their desire. For this reason people of each age in order to show a kind of negative resistance against the rulers, considered learning the remembrance of this group of events by heart from person to person and as their duty and abstained no effort in this way. Undoubtedly an important part of the ancient heritage of Persia and especially what has remained in the form of Shahnamehs[2] and above all of them the Shahnameh by Ferdowsi has preserved in this way. Concerning this very subject, we should also not forget this most optimistic supposition that adopting oral tendencies in recognizing the past was also impressed by different understandings of different people of each age about the events and therefore public inferences were transferred to next age in an oral form beside written sources of each age. Undoubtedly these public inferences directly or indirectly showed themselves in people behavior and a part of conversational atmosphere of the society was impressed by them and they made their particular impression in circumstance of writing historical sources of next age or ages, if not in the writings of that very age. From this point of view, written sources and writing culture of each age intermingle with oral culture of that age or previous age willy nilly (that of course have connected to each other like a chain and one can not reckon them completely separated from each other) and this affair also shows importance of oral approach in history and its important position in the genesis of historical documents. Thus, an important part of the human history heritage that is remained in the form of myths and contains the human ideological-social outlook appears to be more important. Although among of most nations the myths are usually the relations between different gods or include elements with spiritual nature, with little negligence one can reckon myths as a history without certain time and place and know the course of human belief from the beginning to the understanding of monotheism, a process that the important part of it has been inherited from the myths and its heritage has been narrated chest to chest.[3] From this point of view collective ceremonies and customs of human, including what is known as folklore or behavior norms are also a part of this very mythical or ideological heritage of him. These myths and legends (one as a description of past events without having certain time and place and another as exaggerated description of the events with the same specifications that their exaggerated aspects have made them far from reality) as heirs of human culture in an age that human had attained written culture come into view more effectively, and among all the ancient peoples and nations including those of China, India, Persia, Mesopotamia, Egypt, Ionia, and Mediterranean sphere have left specified manifestations from themselves, and they can be clearly tracked in the myth of creation among Babylonians and Hebrews, the poems of »Iliad« and »Odyssey« by Homer and »Works & Days« by Hesiod, and Persian and Indian myths. As it was said, after Herodotus that historiography improved with scientific characteristics, the main nature of Greek historiography, which was indeed an emphasis on documents obtained from the eyewitnesses’ narrations, emphasized on oral sources either. Great Greek historian (including Herodotus, Thucydides, and Polybius, the Greek who wrote for the Romans) selected war as the subject of historiography. This matter made it possible for them to use the info of warriors, who as always were outnumbered, in order to obtain the needed documents for recognizing different aspects of the subject that they were studying. Using oral info concerning the recognition of the events was not confined to Greek and Roman historiography. An important part of sources from which Muslim historians enjoyed and paved the way for the creation of Islamic historiography had non-written nature either. This approach of Muslims towards past, whether under the impression of genealogy tradition and pre-Islamic Arab world or even under the impression of considerations aroused from the extensiveness of Islamic empire and different opinions of religions, sects, tribes, and peoples, concentrated their looking on itself and had great influence on course of change of Islamic historiography for a long time. The leniency hidden in Islamic original instructions and ideology let non Islamic people put themselves forward and this matter paved the way for a kind of cultural cosmopolitism in Islamic realm that had a kind of plurality of opinions and different understandings about realities and it had effects on the oral approach to history. Muslim scholars scruple obliged them to prevent entrance forging, alteration, and dishonesty in historical news, even in phases that written forms of news had prevailed and not to accept historical information except by the way of direct narration and hearing themselves from clear sighted informed people. From this point of view, irrespective of first phase Muslims attention to the past that was merely in oral form and had a big part of the history of Islam in itself, in next phases recording of events were paid attention to and Muslim writers firstly tried to collect oral information about events and then embark upon to write them more confidently.[4]  

Renaissance changed the way that the new age human was observing history and made him the pivot point in the course of historical events occurrence; as it  impressed on the appearance of the philosophy of history and elevation of this knowledge  and the elevated historiography after the Age of Enlightenment and made facilities available for historians to help them in accession to greater information for recognition of different aspects of social life and set a kind of social approach and deviation from mere political and military historiography for  historiographers. Undoubtedly the new age humanism, at least till the age of intellect and afterwards, supposed that because of possessing wisdom and wisely will, humans are equal with each other and therefore each person is able to impress on the course of changes in history by using his wisdom and will, and thereupon he can be history-maker. Such deduction had this message for the historians that one can use numerous human sources for better recognition of the history and wherever these sources exist, they can be creditable. Such an opinion is nothing except social approach in history which »Voltaire« used the title of » philosophy of history« for it and prepared a lot of sources for more exact and more complete recognition of past and also paved the way for the participation of humans of one age, who had not the necessary opportunity for writing events and because of living circumstances had devolved this important matter to the historians. From this point of view, the background of a more serious effort in something that today, in an inexpressive expression, is called »Oral History« in historical studies, goes back to the changes after renaissance and especially after industrial revolution.   

Technologic achievements of this age human could not be efficient in for using oral sources for a comprehensive approach to the past like what is obtained at twentieth century, but mental grounds of attention to this subject began from this very era. Although new age human criticized previous tendencies to history such as mythical-legendary outlooks (that was an imperfect kind of impressing oral subjects in history), but with his humanistic opinion prepared possibility of propounding different tendencies and using different opinions concerning this matter, and this was the beginning of scientific outlook for using oral subjects in historiography. At this very era, because of the existence of three powers of imagination, memory, and understanding in human, Francis Bacon has divided sciences into three great groups: poem, history, and philosophy and has known memory as the basis of history –which can be criticized- and it is not disconnected with this deduction about the oral subjects position in new age historiography.[5] On this very subject, one must not forget the importance of historiography of »Vico«. Vico that one justly must reckon him as the real founder of philosophy of history in its modern concept, in his special philosophic look at history, seriously noted the epic and mythical ages of human history and reckoned the nations old myths as displayers of their political, economic, familial, and social life and knew study of them as an important matter for greater possible understanding of history. The importance which he believed for the linguistics and lingual structure of each age and its relation with lingual background of each people and nation can also be construed in this very direction.[6] Nevertheless, something which is known as Social History came into being at twentieth century; a historical approach that paid attention to Oral history in order to recognizing history, despite facing serious criticism of a group of German historians, that Leopold Ranke was at the head of them and this matter itself propounded its necessity. In the meantime although the efforts of historians such as Karl Lamprecht in "anti-Rankean" movement did not produce a result, social approach to history faced more reception in America and France. Fredrick Jackson Turner and James Harvey Robinson, two American historians that had an understanding about history in mind that was something between different kinds of knowledge and posed that all human activities should be studied with the special approach of sciences such as anthropology, economy, psychology, and sociology. French Annales historians took up such approach more seriously and studied structural analysis of past in an inter-field framework that believed in an elevated position for history. Historians such as Brazilian Gilberto Freyre who for sometime had associated to Fernand Braudel, famous Annales historian, and had been impressed from his views, in study of Brazilian history paid attention to more up-to-date and social subjects and studied language history, nourishing, body, childhood, and dwelling as parts of past. In this regard by preparing and sending questionnaires for thousands of people who were born in 1850-1900 he seriously used the oral method in collecting his results.[7] Annales School followers who used philology, psychology, anthropology, sociology, economy, and law in history analysis, also obtained an important part of information related to their more contemporary subjects by interviews or questionnaires results, and "Subaltern", the new method of historiography that its main subject is about inferior classes society such as workers and immigrants, has been impressed from their methodology. Likewise, Annales historians who liked cultural history considered more objective and cultural subjects of society and paved the way for research about history by using oral methods of collecting results. From this point of view research in cultural history sphere that pays attention to qualitative existence of society and consists a concept of values, was possible only by more qualitative and value oriented methods such as interview and observation and other oral methods of studying history and collecting results. In the meantime extensive effects arising from ideology of feminism should not be forgotten. Feminism is a political, cultural, and social movement that began its activities from the beginning of 15th century, regulated them in 17th and 18th centuries and changed into an active ideology in 19th and 20th centuries. Feminism is an active movement that has a critical approach challenging not only academic and political levels but also some profound beliefs, thought patterns and sometimes private and close relations of people in society and now has included all scientific and cultural spheres.[8] The effort to obtain equal rights with men, critical and skeptical approach toward historical texts and even history itself, changing the outlook concerning familial and social criteria, the kind of relation between man and woman, the extent of women freedom and the outlook to the society, government, and economy with sexual approach, all mean penetration of feministic thoughts in different dimensions of collective life; specially at recent decades that sphere of feministic activities has expanded and according to French feministic approach and post structural and destructing outlook has taken up a cultural, psychological, and philological approach, and at the same time under economic and social regards has paid attention to the poor and feeble classes, national and religious minorities and third world women, and has created schools with liberal, Marxist- socialist, and radical tendencies,[9]  has resorted to field researches to induce its ideas and guide the thoughts and has helped so much to spread oral methods for collecting needed information and stabilization of this historical approach position.

 Postmodernism and more importantly Globalization are the other effective courses that helped the elevation of using oral tendencies in accomplishing researches in humanities; something that has been effective in feminism either. Idiom of postmodern for the first time was applied in 1940-50s in discussing Spanish literature before WWII or Latin American literature between the two world wars. At the next phase, it was applied in architecture including a kind of rupture from modernist architecture ideas and rejecting its continuity. Then Toynbee applied this expression in humiliating the decline of western civilization in the abyss of unreasonableness and objectivism and when used by Lyotard, it found an ambiguous character. In his interpretation postmodernism was the age of interregnum that showed that under its banner, modern age has finished but its successor age still has not taken a certain name, whereas in this interpretation beside the necessity of rupture, the necessity of continuity was also propounded. Another interpretation named post-structuralism that came into existence in 1960s and propounded the structural inefficiency, attended not to continuity but explicitly to a kind of rupture. Generally, postmodernism can be considered as criticism of culture in its expanded meaning that intends to bring the different achievements produced by modernism together; the achievements that can not be brought together, compared and recognized. In their opinion there are no resources that can be preferred to the others and therefore they opposed any kind of discourse linking and integration and abolishing the differences. They don’t believe in truth, rationality, knowledge or any kind of search to access harmonious Epistemology and reckon the duty of postmodernism to create disorder and disparaging all the efforts that are accomplished to reach certainty, completing and combination. In their opinion there is no objective report about reality and everything is uncertain.[10] Such an outlook which is somehow possibly negative is not applicable in history; because it needs stability and affirmative approach. But, from this point of view that it talks about independence and stability of discourse in each age, and instead of continuity believes in rupture, it allows complete recognition of the discourse of each age and contains the reproduction and evolution of each age within and this is useful for humanities in general and among them history and the oral manner in collecting historical results (as a method that is efficient in more comprehensive study of contemporary events). Globalization, as a mechanism that is about to abolish modern age spurious and confining borders created in politics, economy, and culture, as a whole is also harmonious with postmodernism trend and has opened a new horizon before human being which is both chance-making and threatening. Globalization as an opportunity (and the opposite side in face of universalism as a threat) intends to abolish invariable and determined meanings and represents a kind of indeterminate and at the same time relative concept about different aspects of collective life and its values and customs, respects local identities and observations and beside them propagandizes a kind of universal unity, convergence, and public approach. Globalization propounds multiplicity of languages and ideas, plurality of thoughts, political and cultural tolerance, democratic system, pluralistic government and cultural and conversational moderateness in itself and in the form of »universal thought and local action« lets people, groups, nations, possessors of ideas and opinions and different races of people to be participant in their destiny and other people of world by breaking spurious borders and enjoying communication facilities and electronic technology. Undoubtedly this group of characteristics, that in most part are indebted to technology development in modern age, have paved the way for more dynamic work by researchers and caused the appearance of oral approach in history by opening more expanded horizons of using different ideas and opinions.

However, although oral sources have always been used in writing history, after renaissance, under the impression of important courses such as: Humanism and its indivisible Rationalism that had change in humans historical outlook in itself; Social approach in history that began in the 18th century and prevailed in 20th century and led to greater comprehensiveness in historical researches; Opposition to positivistic tendencies peculiar to German historians, who believed in recognition of facts and existence of written documents concerning them; Share of Annales historian, who research on history with more comprehensive, social, and cultural approach and bear in mind inter-field perception; Feminism that with a critical and recently structure breaker approach tries to attach importance to the position of women in national and transnational organizations and has taken up an efficient cultural and social approach; Modernism and what is propounded with title of postmodernism and brings under doubt and breaks up stability, certainty, arrangement, and unity in all spheres; Development of technology and specially technology of communication, that has paved the way for transmission of messages and results by audio-visual methods; and finally Globalization that has rendered easy possibility of existence for everybody and has made becoming effective to an accepted principle, using oral sources as one of main historical sources that one can use them in historiography has changed into an inescapable obligation. From this time, by the usage of audio-visual means, the circumstances of widespread participation of humans in the appearance of a part of historical sources were prepared and the fruitfulness of history and its parallel fields has increased. Especially from 1970s, academic circles have paid attention to this method and today some creditable universities of the world have much invested on it and gotten fruitful results. This method in today's form, for the first time was established in 1948 at university of Colombia and then the Oral History Association in 1966, and then after, the Oral History Department of Harvard University was developed in 1967 and oral history was accepted as a serious subject in research and historical circles of the world.[11]


What is Oral History?

Although »Oral History« is an inexpressive idiom and includes only texts and sources obtained by using technologic techniques for recording historical information and results, it is actually consisted of efforts that are done by using special techniques and instruments concerning historical events tries to collect and preserve historical information resulted from personal experiences of people and groups involved in or witnessed the events. Main instruments used by active researchers in this sphere are tape recorders, cameras, microphones, audio/visual cassettes, computers, internet, private and public websites, and instruments suchlike that prepare the possibility of saving information and then preserving and making them written, in order to be used after accomplishing this phase (either by researcher himself or others).[12] This approach is a qualitative process that includes interviewing desirable people and understanding their deduction and interpretation about the event taken into consideration, and the scale of their share in that event. Such approach begins from the time of deciding to accomplish the research about a special subject and trying to collect the information and includes the period until the time in which obtained information by interviews and questionnaires (and other customary ways) will become written and changed into a part of historical sources.

Principally oral approach is strengthened by the dialogue between the interviewer and interviewee ÜÜ that two sides, specially the interviewer in all of phases are active, diligent, and effectiveÜÜ but it is not confined to this matter.[13] Ordinary people can prepare personal weblogs or refer to public sites to put information about family, relatives, folklore, behavior manners and customs, matters related to an organization, nation, race, party, professional affairs, personal experiences, pictures, documents, songs, stories, and subjects suchlike, and by observance of moral and legal limits be diligent in protection of present heritage of society in which they live, and pave the way for using researchers their results. In the meantime, more public groups of society that usually have less possibility for leaving impression on the process of documentation and other written sources can have effective share. Among them, war veterans, women, emigrants, workers (especially those who were involved in special events such as strikes, revolutions, movements and…), and the groups suchlike are more attractive for researchers of this field. Of course nowadays, oral approach in collecting information has gone farther than humanities and has also comprised different industries and techniques; Such as: astronomy, philosophy of history, telescope, melting industries and so on.[14]

However, we should remember that researchers are the ones who define the limits of using oral approach for collecting results and also the extent of its importance in research. This is the researcher who knows preceding findings and defines what information must be sought. The researcher makes the suitable decision and selects the desirable people for giving information. In the projects that are accomplished collectively, this is the researchers responsibility to plan, design questions or supervise the questionnaires or lead the research group; and this is the researcher the one who leads the course of interview toward desired aims by effective interference in the interview and guiding the interviewee at necessary times. He defines the method of writing down the information and using them. He confines the desired place of the subject in historical, geographical, and cultural texts and collecting results from written sources is accomplished under his supervision. This is the researcher who knows the cleavages in documents and seeks the desired people to fill them and paves the way to interview them and manages the other phases of collecting information. Researcher also determines the research subject with researchable characteristics.[15] At the same time one should have it in mind that the selected subject should be harmonious and proportionate with the researcher's organizational or personal considerations and interests and also the interviewee's considerations. The research project should also be accomplishable within appropriate time and have the necessary capability for collecting information by oral approach and its conceptive limits should be clear. An organization, a skill, a position, a biography, a distinguished period, legends, folklores, familial accidents, ethnology, morality, economy, security, climatology, geography,  movements, and festivals are all part of subjects that researcher must study them carefully.[16] He must know the moral and legal considerations of interviews and their outcome and use them and if the work is done collectively, he should oblige the group to obey these considerations.[17] Researcher's position and his share in leading the process of collecting information in historical studies, is tied with inter-field researches.[18]


Critical Viewpoints     

Although oral approach is important in collecting historical information because of being new and multifold nature, but to some extent it is ambiguous and for extensive usage in historical studies, some points should be considered. Some of critical views about oral history are reviewed down here.

It seems that the expression of »Oral history« is an inexpressive concept and somehow amphibological and in better words ambiguous. This ambiguity originates from this point that in real world, principally there is no reality by the name of oral history. Ontologically speaking, history refers to past events irrespective of any relation with the historian and from this point of view has equal value for the scholars of different fields (including historians and non-historians) who are about to extract what they want from the past; and epistemologically speaking, it refers to the historian's deduction about the past through the viewpoint that he has borrowed from his society at each age (either at the age of event's occurrence that the first hand historians write their deduction or the next ages that the historians write based on the discourse of their own age, naturally affected by the inherited discourse from the past) and historiography is the written form of the deductions by the historians of each age. Now, it is not clear which one of these dual dimensions includes Oral History includes. It is certainly that oral history cannot be reckoned in ontological dimension of history. We have different kinds of history such as political, social, cultural, economic, military, figures, classes, universal, general, local, and… but »Oral History« can not be classified among them. Past events naturally embrace one of the above multifold dimensions and they are realities of collective life that oral or written conception can not be among them. Epistemologically, history is the report of historical realities through the viewpoint of historian to the human life (that can be cultural, political, economic, military, and…). The work done by the historian based on the historical reports, finally leads to the creation of History Knowledge and Historiography; and depending on the dimension that the historian focuses on, the result of his work is an oriented historiography life (that can be cultural, political, economic, military, and…). Here also, using the concept of »Oral History« is not right. Oral history (or in better words, the oral information about events) is usable when a connection is made between the historian and historical subjects (cultural, political, military, and…). When the historians deduction about the dimensions of past is formed in this connection, Oral History helps the historian to draw a better and more comprehensive conclusion about the events of the time of occurrence or close to that time. Consequently, this approach is only known as a kind of historiography that brings different collective views in historiography process and brings history and historiography nearer to the reality of being a matter of discourse. In other words, historical identities and »facts« take epistemological form in the historian's mind and change into historiography and resources which are obtained from oral approach only make the movement of this course faster.

Expressive or inexpressive, oral history is not historiography itself. Historiography is an indeterminate and relative conception that relates to discourse atmosphere of society and specially the dominant discourse of the time of occurrence of the event. In this regard, it is necessary to mention that in principle whatever that has occurred in the past is not history. It is the discourse atmosphere of the society (that has taken its opinion, knowledge, custom, and values from this atmosphere) and the historian's viewpoint that have selected a part of past, that has been effective in collective life, as history, and by paying attention to its existing dimensions, have written it for  posterity under cultural, political, economic and… titles. It is from this very point of view that history keeps its distance from the sphere of slight and single events and takes collective nature and seeks patterns dominant on society at each age based on collective self-awareness in order to use them in contemporary life. In this meaning, historiography of each age will be nothing except reflection of important events of each age which historians have deducted. It is possible that historians may have not paid attention to the share of groups such as guilds, workers, women, families and social middle classes in important accidents and margins of cultural and social life of some of ages. As a matter of fact they have written the conditions that had no importance for these groups and margins of collective life, while these are the real manifestations of history. It is right if we consider Oral approach as an attempt to show the great the share of these groups and classes, but it is not historiography (in the above mentioned concept). Likewise, there is no concept as »Oral Historian«, as some people may suppose.[19]

We should remember that collected information and texts obtained by oral approach have speaking nature and are defined by the viewpoints, spiritual-sensational characteristics of the narrator and researcher and their social profiteering. They are also defined by a kind of time and place distance with the events occurrence. This kind of defining is naturally a subsequent deduction about historical realities and since the discourse atmosphere of the new age is constantly changing and sub-discourses of each age have also their own effects in the course of events occurrence, the deductions revealed under the impression of these affaires may possibly decrease or increase and would be based on the conditions of the time of their appearanceÜÜ  something which is not necessarily a deduction of the time of events occurrence. From this point of view the texts obtained from oral approach in history can be reckoned as history-making and not historiology or historical revisionism. Considering the relation between mind and language, we can reckon oral culture and texts obtained from it rational and from another point of view, more dynamic than writing culture (that has a defined and limited concept and mind and language relation is more fixed in it). But one should bear in mind that what the narrators state, is in form of spoken language that although it maybe identical with the spoken language of the event's time of occurrence, it is not necessarily identical with the conceptual language of that time. The texts obtained from oral approach to great extent are relevant to the measure of understanding and memory power of the interviewees, and irrespective of probable profiteering and national, political, pertaining to a political party, religious, and… deductions, from this point of view that mind and language of people are relative subjects, the result of work comparing with the texts of historiography have also relative aspects.

The texts obtained from usage of oral approach have defined measure of usage in historical studies. They are used as a part of historical sources - and not historiography. It is also disputable if the contemporary age can be studied in history or parallel fields. Some historiography schools have paid serious attention to inter-field studies in understanding historical developments since beginnings of 20th century. Mutual enjoyment of historians and sociologists from scientific approaches and achievements of each other is reckoned an accepted principle. These schools are rather to study the subjects that their historical time has finished and have been placed in sphere of history knowledge. Something which is related to the contemporary time that the witnesses of its events are still alive is mostly related to the studying spheres of fields such as sociology, law, economy, psychology, and political sciences, and historical sciences such as historical sociology, and historical Üܝsocial psychology can research about them only in an inter-field state. Oral approach as a novel knowledge in historical studies is not so much profitable in recognizing the remote pasts. This approach and texts obtained from it seem to be important in the light of share that it would have in historical studies in future. Oral approach leaves abundant historical raw materials and facts from which historians of the next age­­­ ­the time when present age will be placed in the sphere of historical studies – will use them. Consequently, persuading researchers of parallel fields to history to use such approach will lead to fruitfulness of history in future and help future historians in better understanding the conversational atmosphere of today's society and the its dominant self–awareness as far as possible.

In using oral approach in collecting information, researchers must have a complete critical approach at all phases of the work and actively use the methods of external and internal criticism that are used in exact recognition of historical information. Standpoints such as criticizing  intentional and unintentional observations (that help interviewer in better discernment of incorrect expressions of the interviewee from his correct ones), bearing in mind the time and place distance  of interviewee from the event that he talks about, comparative study of narrator expressions with other narrators, paying attention to the principle of correlation between the affairs and process basis in which the developments happen in its framework, analysis of the interviewee's information in the framework of that environment, being related or not related the narrator and the kind of his relation to the subject about which he talks, and methods suchlike, are among the cases that help the researcher in this regard.

In some historiography sources, the discourse atmosphere has expired and reached to a kind of constancy that one can criticize its subjects by these methods. But in oral approach (because of a more mobile discourse atmosphere) it is not completely possible to use these methods. Consequently, the results obtained from oral approach after reaching to a discourse atmosphere being placed in the sphere of historical studies can be used as historical or historiographic sources and helpful in more efficient recognition and analysis of the past, if the researcher brings about the changes in them and analyzes and interprets them based on the discourse atmosphere.



Oral approach is very important in collecting historical results and also in the concept which is professionally called »Oral History«, as a method used in inter-field studies and helps historians in better recognition of closest past. Historical results obtained from this approach help historians in better recognition of contemporary events, prepare the possibility of more extent participation of different collective groups in general process of recognition of history and paves the way for strengthening collective interaction and mental pluralism. It also leave innumerable results (historical facts) for the posterity that will help future historians for more complete recognition of the structure of previous society and will help to as much as possible greater fruitfulness of history. Oral approach in historical studies has a long antecedent and its life goes back to the time before the invention of writing.  But after the new modern changes and especially since mid 20th century by audio-visual technologies improvements, historians have paid more attention to it. This approach is one of efficient methods in collecting contemporary historical results. We should bear in mind that the results obtained from this approach do not exist at the time of appearance of historiography and future historians will approach to this concept. At the same time in view of positive characteristics of oral approach, one can reckon the importance of results obtained from this approach as documents for future historians. These results in comparison with the books that contemporaneous to appearance of these texts have been published are more important. Nevertheless, these results have not such value at the time of appearance and in the best state they have a status equal to different documents which different organizations, parties, and groups leave from themselves ordinarily, but in future they will be more important for the historians.

[1] . Refer to: R.G. Callingwood, Mafhum- e Kolli-e Tarikh, pp.36- 37

[2] . Book of Kings

[3] . Refer to: ¡Abdolhosein Zarrinkub, Tarikh  dar Tarazu, Tehran, Amirkabir, 5th ed., 1377H., vol.1,pp.32-38

[4] . Sadegh Aeenevand, Elm-e Tarikh dar Gostare-ye Tamaddon-e Eslami, Tehran, Pazhuheshgah-e Olum-e Ensani va Motaleat-e Farhangi, 1377H.vo1.1,pp.32-121

[5] . Nicolas Capaldi, Falsafe-ye Elm, trans: Ali Haghghi, Tehran, Sorush, 1377 H, pp.74-75; R.G.Kalingwood, Ibid., pp.78- 79

[6] . R.G.Kalingwood, Ibid., pp.93-94

[7] . Peter Burke, Zarurat-e Hamgeraee-ye Nazariyye-ye Ejtemaee va Tarikh: Tarikh va Rabete-ye Jameeshenasi, quoted by: Gray G.Hamilton et al., Tarikhnegari va Jameeshenasi-ye Tarikhi, trans: Hashem Aghajari, Tehran, Kavir, 1385 H.,pp. 428-432

[8] . Andrew Wincent, Ideolozhiha-ye modern-e Siasi, trans: Morteza Saghebfar, Tehran, Ghoghnus, 1378H.,pp.242-243

[9] . Ibid., pp.235- 254

[10] . Babak Ahmadi, Modernite va Andishe-ye Enteghadi, Tehran, Nashr-e Markaz, 1373H.,pp.258-261; Andrew Wincent, Ibid.,p.264

[11] . Tarikh-e Shafahi, p.1; Refer to:

[12] . Audio Technology/Recording Devices/Digital recorder…, in: www, p.1.

[13] . "What is Oral History", in:,p1;Why­­ "Oral­ History", in: http://genealogy.about .com /oral-history/ss/oral-history.htm,p.1 

[14] . "Oral History in Space-Science and Technology", in:

[15] . "Managing an Oral History Project", in: oral-history/index.php?,p.1

[16] . "Developing A research Focus", in:,p.1-2

[17] . "Ethical & Legal Considerations", in:

[18] . Look at: "Documentaries of control Taxes", in:

[19] . "Step-by-Step to Oral History", in:, p.2; Morteza Nuraee, "Daramadi bar Parei Moshkelate Nazari va Karkardi dar Tarikh-e Shafahi", Ganjine-ye Asnad, Vol. 16, no.64, 4th booklet, Winter 1358 S.H., p.151.


Number of Visits: 6975


Full Name:

A Narrative of Public Movement of June 5 1963

There is a story about Grand Mosque of Shiraz, in which most of June 5 events happened, that I like to note before addressing memories of June 5, 1963. The current director of bureau of Education who had intended to restore the mosque, started it in 1944. But when he evaluated impairment of the mosque, he concluded it would be better destroy the mosque totally and take its bricks to Kazeroon in order to build schools.

A Memory by Iran Torabi about Meeting Imam Khomeini

There were heavy surgeries that night until morning. Some of the wounded of the air force got martyrdom, and some guards died too. I was busy delivering one of the operated when I heard shouting and cursing in the recovery room. A guard and an air force officer had lain down on the stretcher, and were waiting for surgery. The guard had a medal around his neck supposed to be for the guards, and the Air Force officer recognized it.
The 336th Night of Memory-3

Sardasht Chemical Bombing

The 336th Night of Memory was held on Thursday, June 23, 2022, with the presence of a group of chemical warriors from Sardasht region and the treatment and health staffs of chemically injured and veterans in the Surah Hall of the Arts Center, with the performance of Dawood Salehi. In this ceremony, General Ali Sadri, Dr. Hamid Salehi, Dr. Mohammad Hajipour and Dr. Khosro Jadidi, witnesses of the chemical bombing, shared their memories.

Like a War-Torn Area

I participated in the demonstration for the first time on Tuesday, August 30, 1977 (the 14th of the holy month of Ramadan). In the morning, I heard people had gathered in front of house of Ayatollah Sayyid Abdullah Shirazi. My brother and I went to Naderi Crossroad with the intention of joining the people. The number of people kept increasing, as much as the street became completely closed. The distance between Ayatollah ...