Works of Oral History and Upcoming Problems-3


Compiled by: Mahia Hafezi
Translated by: Fazel Shirzad


In order to better understand the problems of producing books with the subject of oral history or memoirs, the oral history website has conducted short conversations with some experts and practitioners, the results of which will be presented to the readers in the form of short notes and in several parts.

 Oral history is an easily avoided topic; seemingly simple and difficult in the inside.  One of the plagues of oral history is to take it for granted.  Some people think that only by recording the voice of a narrator and implementing it (and in some cases even without implementation), it is possible to produce an oral history work, but if we accept that oral history is a science and the method of doing it is also a technique, there should be characteristics and standards for that.

 One of the things that seriously harms the work of oral history is haste.  There are several reasons for this. One of the most important reasons is the financial cost of doing the work. The interviewer or editor may fall into this trap in order to deliver the work faster and get paid.

 Another factor influencing the acceleration of oral history production is the publisher.  In order to be able to launch the work on the market as soon as possible, the publisher will cover its current costs and reach profitability faster, by putting pressure on the compiler to cause haste. On the other hand, the pressure of the organizational group ordering the work, for faster delivery of the work, can fuel this haste.  In order to be able to report the results of their work sooner, the managers of the collection or organization will, intentionally or unintentionally, cause acceleration in the work by putting pressure on the factors that produce the effect.  In this case, the quality of the work will sacrifice the speed of its production.

Another factor that may cause haste in doing an oral history work is the narrator.  He expects to receive the book in print shortly after his memoirs.  Also, the excitement of the narrator for the work to be seen more quickly can also cause pressure on the producers of the work and subsequently hasten the work.

 You can look at haste in work from another angle.  As it is said, the difference between oral history and written history is that for written history, at least 20-30 years must pass from the event to be able to produce it; But oral history has a mode of production and consumption. However, this characteristic of oral history is not a fault, but it is considered a type of history;  But at the same time, it has requirements and requirements that must be met. One of these requirements is that the oral historian does not rush to publish the work. The oral historian's rush should be to gather information about the subject of the work. The importance of rushing to collect information is due to the possibility of forgetting events and the possibility of losing the narrator or narrators.

 For example, in recent years, with the arrival of the Corona virus, the fever of publishing works with the title of the oral history of the Corona spread in Iran.  In these works, only memories of corona patients or medical staff who were involved with this pandemic were collected and published. If the oral history historian must collect the set of influencing factors in this disease.  This group covers a wide range of things such as the discovery of the first samples of the corona disease, the doctors who first diagnosed the disease and warned about it, corona deaths before the official announcement of the disease, talking about the origin of the disease, the process of vaccine production and injection, etc.

 Although it is necessary to hurry to collect such information so that it is not forgotten, but finding the correct information about each of these cases requires a lot of time.  Hours of interviews with different people from different spectrum, which can include both patients and medical staff, as well as those who tried to do jihadi work such as disinfecting public places, shrouding and burying the dead, etc., are necessary to compile the oral history of Corona. What is certain is that the speed in doing the work (following all the standards) is not only okay, but also desirable; But haste in work means doing that work quickly and without precision and quality.

 To solve the problem of haste, the first task is the training of oral historians. The producer of the oral history work is a historian, not a tape recorder that only records and plays the narrator's words. The oral historian must probe the narrator's mind with accurate and correct questions, verify the narrator's words and prepare the oral work by disambiguate it.

 The second solution is to pay an appropriate fee to the oral historian so that the quality of the work is not sacrificed for financial issues. The financial discussion can also be extended to the publisher or ordering organization. By paying the fees in a proper way, the problem of haste in the production of oral history work can be solved quickly.



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