The Fourteenth Conference of Oral History-1

We Are Waiting for Hearing the Voice of Oral History by the Universities

Adjusted by Maryam Jafari
Translated by Ruhollah Golmoradi


According to Iranian Oral History Website, the 14th Oral History Conference titled “Oral History on Scale” was held by the History Department of the University of Isfahan and the Oral History Association of Iran on Tuesday morning, May 14, 2024; professors, experts, and activists of this field participated in this conference which was held in Saeb Tabrizi Amphitheater of the Faculty of Literature and Humanities, University of Isfahan.

At the beginning of this conference, Dr. Mohammad Ali Chalangar, the Executive Secretary of the 14th Oral History Conference, called Isfahan University a ground for the formation of the Oral History Association and stated, “Isfahan University aims at establishing oral history major for MA degree by 2026 (1405 SH) and then proceeds it to Ph.D. level. Of course, the syllabus of this field were compiled by Dr. Nouraei, and we hope to have this field in the entrance exam (Konkur) of 2025 (1404 SH). Moreover, the history department of Isfahan University is trying to form the Oral History Group and Group of the Islamic Revolution History. Fortunately, the group of oral history has gone through its main steps and has been approved by the research council of the university.”

Then the president of Farhangian University of Isfahan, Dr. Ali Akbar Kajbaf, announced the 15th oral history conference in this university and said, “Oral history is a method of historical research that describes and identifies historical events and incidents based on what were seen and heard by observers, witnesses, and activists of the event as well as their performance.”




He spoke about the history of oral history in Western universities and added, “Regarding the 20-year history of oral history in Iran, universities do not pay attention to this issue, and this is one of the gaps we are facing. The 14th conference was supposed to be held with the participation of Isfahan University and Farhangian University, but it was decided that this conference to be held by this university as an evaluation, and the next conference under title of “The Role of Universities in Oral History Based on the History of Farhangian University.” Farhangian University has a 10-year history but the university itself has a 105-year history and has been formed in the form of Daneshsara (training college) since 1918 (1297 SH). Then it has been expanded to the Higher Daneshsara, Tarbiat Moalem (training teachers), Higher Education Center (in Persian: Mojtama’a Amoozesh-e A’ali) and Farhangian University in two systems of Farhangian University and Shahid Rajaee Teacher Training University. These two universities are in charge of training teachers for education and we should remind teachers and students of its history. We should also examine the issue of why our universities pay little attention to oral history and where is Farhangian University's position in this field and what role it can play. God willing, the 15th oral history conference will be held in November (Aban) or December (Azar) this year.”

Following the 14th oral history conference, “Dr. Mohsen Kazemi,” an oral history activist and secretary of the Oral History Association, reviewed formation of the Oral History Association and holding a series of oral history conferences, and remarked, “we had no image of oral history activities in universities. Even though friends like Hujjat al-Islam Fakhrzadeh had been recorded memories since the war, and we had entered into the process of writing memories and recording memories in the 1990s, we had no appropriate image about oral history. Finally, the late Rahim Nikbakht contacted us in May 2004 and said a meeting about oral history was going to be held at Isfahan University. Mr. Nikbakht was invited by the Islamic Revolution Document Center, but we, as those who were involved in the revolution and war in the field of art, were not invited. Mr. Fakhrzadeh, Mr. Kamari and I contacted the history department and they welcomed us. Therefore, we were gatecrashers who set foot on the field and entered the university. Dr. Nouraei had put all the active websites in the field of oral history into a floppy disk and gave it to us. Here, we learned about the weight and position of Dr. Nouraei during the oral history. From the beginning, without wanting anything in return, he endured difficulties of oral history practice and helped to vitalize oral history in universities and in the whole country.”


He further reminded about the formation of the Oral History Association of Iran, “All those who were active in the field of memoirs those days joined the Oral History Association. We also had addresses of the participants in the Isfahan conference, we organized all of them, and decided to form this association. Not that the association was established in 2004, but we founded it in 2004. We moved little by little and the further we advanced, we noticed the damages and shortcomings oral history faced. During these 20 years, we held 14 conferences, of which 7 were held at Isfahan University, and no other university has helped oral history as much as Isfahan University. The first conference, 13th and 14th of May 2004, dealt with theoretical issues. The second conference was held in November of the same year at the University of Isfahan and it also involved theoretical issues. The third session was held with a delay of 3 years in 2007 again in Isfahan; the fourth conference was held in two days titled “Interview in Oral History,” because the interview was one of the biggest concerns of the oral practitioners, and the techniques and conditions governing interview were discussed. Mr. Kamari was the scientific secretary of this conference and I was the executive secretary, which was held with cooperation of Hozeh Honari and the Oral History Association in March 2018 in the artistic field. There were so many interested people and the topics were so serious and scientific that immediately after it the conference, the book “Interview in Oral History” was published for the first time by Sooreh Mehr Publications.

The fifth conference was organized by Dr. Abulfazl Hasanabadi in Astan Quds Razavi, which focused on urban studies and local history, and was interesting in its own way. The articles of this conference was also published as a book. Dr. Hassanabadi is also a student of Isfahan University and he published the first general book about oral history in Iran. The conferences were held in the same way. Two educational meetings, under the title of “Education in Oral History,” were again organized by the University of Isfahan; we thought we have a problem with education in oral history, and the teachers and trainers of oral history need to increase their knowledge.”



Referring to the importance of recording the history of education in Iran, Dr. Kazemi said, “Dr. Rahim Roohbakhsh from the Ministry of Education attended both meetings and also presented an article and discussed the harms of oral history in the Ministry of Education. Unfortunately, this ministry has done very little in the field of oral history, but Dr. Roohbakhsh has recently published several books. Despite this manpower, which is part of the reserves of Education, they have not been able to come to the field well yet. The issue of compilation in oral history was one of the problems oral practitioners faced. Due the fact that a lot of oral practitioners had engaged in the arena and had recorded interviews, and their concern was that in what style and manner and depth they would be edited. Therefore, this issue was discussed during 2 conferences. The 7th and 8th sessions which were very fruitful meetings were held in the library of Islamic Consultative Assembly and Dr. Ali Al-Tatari was its scientific secretariat. The articles of these sessions were also published in the form of a book under the title of “Compilation in Oral History.”

From his perspective, oral history is indebted to the two great currents of the Islamic Revolution and oral history, and stated, “These two currents have a large part of our narration and history in their hands.” So, we negotiated with the Foundation of Martyrs and Veterans Affairs and organized the conference of “Oral History of Sacrifice and Martyrdom.” This conference had a very large statistical population and there were numerous received articles too. In the book of proceedings of this conference, 61 papers were published and this book was selected as the best work in the Annual Book Festival of Sacred Defense. This happened in 2011 and Mr. Kamari was its scientific secretary. On the sacred defense, we had training and compilation meetings until we reached the twelfth conference. This conference was held at the University of Isfahan with the support of Jihad Sazandegi; however, publishing its proceedings was delayed until the second conference was held, although we have not been able to coordinate with the Ministry of Agriculture Jahad. If the second conference is held, we will publish its proceedings too. Before this conference, the Institute for Iranian Contemporary Historical Studies organized the conference of “Oral History of the Islamic Revolution” in Hozeh Honari, and the book of this conference was published with cooperation of Dr. Morteza Rasoolipour. He was in control of the scientific flow of this conference and was our encouraging element, and in this conference, he published his valuable experiences and exercises in the form of a book.”

At the end of the first part of the 14th Oral History Conference, Dr. Mohsen Kazemi stated, “If it were not for the Corona virus, the activities of the Oral History Association would have been more than what are available. The association could not hold a conference during the Corona era, but it created a stream and invited people who were somehow involved in the Corona to write and record their memories. For about a year, the association collected all the notes and memories received from patients, nurses, and corpse-washers and published them on the telegram channel of the association. This was conveying experience and reflecting the therapy situation for those who were active. The book “Vector” including this collection of memories was also published by Sooreh Mehr, which is an interesting book. The Oral History Association held the 13th Oral History Conference in Sari in 2022, and Mazandaran’s Hozeh Honari Organization cooperated us. This conference’s proceedings were published in the oral history’s biannual and some are in the process of being published. Nonetheless, we are waiting for hearing the voice of oral history by the universities. Why should the voice of oral history only come from Isfahan?! The main problem of oral history today is that it is far from the university. If it wasn't for the University of Isfahan, I don't know what would have happened to the theoretical issues of oral history, and from this point of view, what was done by the history department of the University of Isfahan, especially Dr. Nouraei’s, is commendable. The Oral History Association has been a trend-setter so far, and with these conferences, we have been able to remind policy-making and shortcomings. Now the Oral History Association has about 500 members and the members of the board of director work without wanting anything in return.”

The report of the 14th oral history conference will be continued.

Number of Visits: 230


Full Name:
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