Pen and interest in compilation of oral history

Gholamreza Azari Khakestar
Translated by M. B. Khoshnevisan

2017-03-06


Oral history from theory to action and compilation is the result of the continuous efforts of the interested people who have valuable experiences in this regard. During the recent two decades, the conditions and circumstances has caused us to witness the publication of numerous oral history collections inside the country. The significance of the subject led to allocation of the issue of "compilation" in the 11th Conference on Oral History held on 27th of February 2017.

The span of the debates, an approach to the elites and different classes of the society caused oral history to play an important role in registration and way of participation of the masses in the past accidents and events. Making oral history and its nature public has also caused the realm of oral history research to be brought up as an interdisciplinary topic and noticed in the academic atmosphere. What causes us to look at oral history as an important feature is the expression of the dark parts of the history from the language of the witnesses and participants in the past events.

Sensitivities particularly in political, cultural and economic issues cause the analyses and narrations of the narrators to be reflected from their own view and according to the type of the social interests and vision. This is the beginning of serious harms in the field of compilation. One of the problems of the compilers is the self-censorship by some of the interviewees.  The interviewee on one hand starts analyzing and explaining about the reasons for the raised issues, and on the other hand, the compiler starts compilation according to organizational requirements and ideological considerations in rewriting the narration. In this viewpoint, both the interviewee narrates away from freedom, and the compiler has no full freedom in writing and rewriting oral history. In this two-way communication, atmosphere and the time of interview are regarded as important elements in registering and expressing some of important issues in oral history.       

Pen and the intellectual structure of compiler play a major role in acceptance of the works by the audience. Sometimes, a narration about a disaster and the retelling of the pains which the people have suffered in facing with it, has led to creation of significant works. In some cases, however, the oral history interviews and some claims, without any approach to questionable documents leave an ambiguity for the readers. 

How should we compile and which model can relieve oral history form the impasse? Is theorizing on compilation of oral history is a good solution? How do the overseas centers compile? And what international standards are considered for oral history compilation? What aspects are considered by the oral history researcher for compilation? Does he or she try to look for registering an experience and its compilation for transferring the knowledge, or present the narration of an event to the audience perfectly?

It seems that most compilations and published books in the field of oral history are in the areas of the Islamic revolution and the Iraqi imposed war against Iran with the approach of the sacred defense, and the policy of the centers has caused other topics in oral history research are not noticed significantly, and the issue of knowledge increasing and transfer of experience have less efficiency and the social and cultural subjects are put on the sideline while most oral history outputs in the world have appeared in social areas.

There is no clear function in presentation of compilation models. Which of oral history works inside the country is considered as a model for other compilers? Sometimes, the raw discourses of oral history have not the ability to be reflected in the books alone and without paying attention to the pen of the compiler, but it can be registered as documentations for historians in the archives. It looks that the recorded interviews in the first stage are not edited and have incomplete documentation, and enjoy large volume. The compiler in the first stage faces various questions out of the interview and ambiguous points which for removing their ambiguity, he or she conducts supplementary interviews or does this through other documentations including documents, photos, and press archive. Also visual products, radio productions, TV documentaries and the articles of the journals can present part of oral history narrations perfectly.

Oral history books must be regarded as the most attractive works if they decrypt really and the narrators resort to express the secret details and unwritten things about history. The features such as the subject’s charm, being new and comprehensive, revelations according to documents, and expressing the unwritten things cause oral history books to play an important role and the public pay attention to them.   



 
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