Oral History of the Islamic Revolution

Article collection of the 10th Iranian Oral History Conference

Reyhaneh Mohammadi
Translated by: Zahra Hosseinian


The Oral History of the Islamic Revolution is a book containing a series of lectures and articles from the 10th Iranian Oral History Conference with the same title, held by the attempt of Institute for Contemporary History Studies of Iran and the Association for Oral History in February 2016.

In this 537-page book published by the Institute for Contemporary History Studies of Iran in 2018, we are presented with 5 lectures and 24 articles by authors and researchers in this field, after the preface. In the preface, the purpose of this conference is considered as criticizing and reviewing the works published in the field of oral history on the subject of the Islamic Revolution at home and abroad, and the lectures are focusing on topics such as Imam Khomeini and the clergy, culture and art, economics and livelihoods, social classes and the guilds, traditions, politics, parties and groups.

The first lecture was delivered by Dr. Musa Faghih Haqqani, in which he emphasized the significance of oral history as one of the important documents in historiography as well as the abundance of oral history sources of the Islamic Revolution. He has also stated that exploring the oral history of the Islamic Revolution in terms of multiple sources and extensive distortions is a must. In his lecture, Dr. Musa Najafi mentioned ten oral history points which are, according to his speech, were the sum of his thirty years of experience, which had been collected and presented in two or three books.

"Contradictory Analyzes in Explaining the Character of Ayatollah Taleghani" is the next topic in this book which contains Mohammad Reza Kaiini's speech. In his speech, he argues that the two major approaches taken to Ayatollah Taleghani have each distorted or eliminated a part of his personality and he attributed it to the influence of oral history on political alignments.

The next lecture entitled "Attitudes toward Historical Sources of the Pahlavi Period" was given by Dr. Ya'qub Tavakoli, in which he pointed to several books, such as "Answer to History", "Me and My Brother" and "The Fall" written by Pahlavi authorities and figures. He believed that they have defined the Islamic Revolution in Iran as a disaster and pointed out that they not only have no negative role, but have not also accepted the role of the people in the victory of the Islamic Revolution.

The next lecture, "Memories and Dangers in the Field of Oral History" was delivered by Sirus Saadvandian, in which he discusses some of damages that have occurred in the context of oral history, and he have experienced or understood by reading and hearing some of them.

The first article in this book, " Economic Oral History: A Historical Analysis of Economic Practice", written by Ali Asghar Saeedi, describes the importance of aural texts, narratives, and collections of oral history in the analysis of Iranian economic history. In the following article, Dr. Morteza Mirdar and Javad Arabani, entitled "A Critique of the Book of Wisdom and Politics; Dr. Seyyed Hossein Nasr's Memoirs," critically examine the book "Wisdom and Politics".

Shafiqeh Niknafs has studied "The Effect of Performing Art on the Occurrence of the Islamic Revolution of Iran by Artists' Narrative" in the Oral History Collection of The National Library of Iran. The next article is entitled "Oral History of Imam Khomeini" written by Mohammad Javad Moradinia, in which he has provided a brief report on how the Institute for Organizing and Publishing Imam Khomeini’s works was formed, while dealt with the necessity of using the oral history method to fill in information gaps about Imam Khomeini's life.

Javad Mansouri has presented a "Report on the Oral History of the Islamic Nations Party", and after describing the characteristics of the Party and its beginning and ending, he has presented an oral history of the Party and a report of published works in this regard. Subsequently, an article has presented titled "The Republic of Revolutionary Historiography" written by Morteza Ghazi and Ahmad Safai, in which the authors have described their experience in the Studies Office of Cultural Front of the Islamic Revolution and the necessities and foundations of popular historiography of the Islamic Revolution.

In the article "A Lost Epic in the History", Shokoh Saadaat Samiei examines various aspects such as the context and consequences of the January 1978 event in Mashhad. In a subsequent article entitled "Criticism of Several Local Oral History works of the Islamic Revolution", Abul Fateh Momen reviews several examples of works published by documentary institutions and centers to determine to what extent the principles of oral history have been applied in these works.

"The Oral History of Mashhad Religious-Political Groups and Their Role in the Islamic Revolution" is another article in which Mohammad Nazarzadeh studies the activities of religious and political groups in Mashhad after the fall of Reza Shah Pahlavi, and the emergence of political and religious open space, and also the formation of contexts and grounds for the Islamic Revolution in this city.

Mohammad Hossein Danaei, the project executer of The Central Bank Iran, has outlined in the following article, "About the oral history of the Central Bank Iran", the executive steps and achievements of editing the oral history of the Central Bank Iran, after a preliminary explanation. In the next article entitled "The Place of Oral History in Tudeh Party Historiography", Maryam Tavassoli Kopaei has attempted to deal with the most important published works in this regard, while describing the periods of historiography of the Tudeh Party in Iran from the time of its establishment in 1941 to its dissolution in 1983.

"Explaining the course of the Islamic Revolution in Isfahan during 1961-1965", by Dr. Seyed Alireza Abtahi, Kimia Kheshti Ara and Parisa Aminian is another article aimed at examining the process of popular struggles in Isfahan and the role of clergy and militant figures to answer how revolutionary developments in Isfahan during 1961-1965 have been and how they have changed.

Morteza Rasoolipour has introduced and criticized The Gray Years, which contains important parts of memoirs of Dr. Houshang Montasseri, chancellor of Tabriz University and the former governor-general of Kerman. Subsequently, in an article titled "Introduction and Review of Dr. Akbar Etemad's Diary", Fatemeh Rezaei Radfar has studied the diary of a nuclear technology expert and one of the scientific and political figures of the Second Pahlavi period.

In an article entitled "Anti-monarchy as a lasting symbol of political culture in the slogans of the Islamic Revolution", Maryam Bastami and Ismaeil Hosseinzadeh have attempted to describe and explain the position of monarchy in Iranian political culture and its relevance to the concept of revolution through content analysis and frequency comparison. In the next article titled "The Oral History of the Role and Function of Major General Valiollah Qarani in Imam Khomeini's Movement", Amin Azizi has attempted to study the role and performance of Valiollah Qarani in Imam Khomeini’s Movement in the form of oral history. After that, in the article "The Political Thought of Ayatollah Golpayegani and his Role in the Victory of the Islamic Revolution", Mohammad Esmaeilzadeh has addressed the role of Ayatollah Golpayegani’s political thought in promoting the Islamic Revolution, while explaining the personality dimensions of him.

Ali Samadi Javan has presented and reviewed Economics and Security, the Memoirs of Dr. Alighi Aalikhani, the Minister of Economy and the President of the University of Tehran. Then, in an article entitled "A Critique on the Oral History of Iranian Fighters' Relations with Fatah Organization", Hamid Ghazvini has criticized the method and content of authors’ and narrators’ works, while referring to a number of published works on the organization, after introducing and describing the history of Fatah Organization.

In the article "Haj Abdolreza Ghannian: From Branching in Association of Quran Adherents to Presence in the Keramat Mosque" by Ahmed Askari, part of political and social life of Abdolreza Ghannian, a well-known businessman in Mashhad during 1941 to 1981 has been studied to explain historically the social and political activities of Mashhad businessmen. Mehdi Abolhasani Taraghi, in his essay "The Most Alien Narrative of the Revolution", while briefly describing the history of BBC Radio, points to the formation of narration made by this radio about the Islamic Revolution and evaluate it scientifically and professionally (oral history) from the beginning to the end.

In an article entitled "The Oral History of the Iranian Liberation Movement", Farhad Nambaradarshad and Nader Parvaneh have addressed the notes of Ahmad Sadr Hajj Seyyed Javadi, titled ‘The Memories of the early years of Revolution’, in a case study. Youssef Nickfam then wrote a review of his book, The Oral History of the Islamic Revolution in Arak, entitled "An Experience and Its Damages".

In the latest article of this book, entitled "Incomplete Memories, Beginning of Distortion of History" written by Reza Akbari, the importance of recording memories in the correct formation of history on the one hand and distortion of history as desired or unwanted due to inaccuracy in complete recording is mentioned. The Oral History of the Islamic Revolution is ended by some photos of the speakers at the 10th Iranian Oral History Conference.


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