The Second National Conference on Oral History of Holy Defense-5

Criteria of Reviewing Oral History Works of Holy Defense

Maryam Rajabi
Translated by Ruhollah Golmoradi


As reported by Iranian Oral History Website, the second national conference on oral history of holy defense was held in Ahle Ghalam Hall of NLAI on March 3, 2019. First to fourth parts of the report included inaugural and beginning lectures of the conference.


Presenting papers

In the continuation of the conference, from 13 to 15 p.m., three panels were held simultaneously. Title of the first panel was the "Oral History of Holy Defense, Necessities and Opportunities", and Brigadier General and Pasdar (IRGC's officer) Yaqub Zohdi, chairperson of the panel, Hojjat ol-Eslam Saeed Fakhrzadeh, Ali Mirhashemi, and Colonel and Pasdar Abdullah Esmaeeli were experts of the panel. In this panel, articles by Maryam Shadi titled "Analytical Review of Role of Oral History in Works of Women Artists of the Revolution (Approaches and Methods)", Azar Kheibari Noghani "The Necessity of Considering Oral History of Holy Defense through Looking at Active Centers in This Field", Gholamreza Bibuk "Role of Children's Visualization in Presentation of Oral History of Holy Defense", Nazanin Baharvand, "Oral History of Women in Holy Defense", and a paper by Abbas Nouri titled "Analyzing Role of Women in Holy Defense Based on My Three Memoires of I'm alive, OPD's Girls and the Period of Closed Doors " were presented. The second panel titled "Pathology and Obstacles to Oral History of Holy Defense" and Second Brigadier-General and Pasdar Hadi Moradpiri was chairperson of the panel. Yahya Niazi, Shafiqe Niknafs and Fatemeh Ilkhani were also present as expert. Articles by Ahmadreza Biabani titled "The Necessity for Recognizing and Eliminating Harmful Pests of Oral History of Holy Defense", Ahmad Lamei Giv "Pathology of Holy Defense's Oral History Based on Narrative Structure of Memory", "Pathology and Practical Approaches in Accelerating ​ Documentation of Oral History of Holy Defense" by Mostafa La'al Shateri, "Pathology of Research and Oral History in Field of Holy Defense" by Yahya Niazi and an article by Mohammadreza Iravani and Reza Jahanfar titled "Review and Analysis of Holy Defense's Oral History; Case Study of Studying Motif and Level of Thought of Memories of Azadegan (freed captives)" were presented in this panel. The third panel was titled "Theoretical Basics and History of Holy Defense's Oral History". Gholamreza Azizi was chairperson of the panel and Habibollah Esmaeeli, Amir-Mohammad Abbasnejad and Colonel Hossein Foroutannejad, were experts of this panel. Papers by Peymaneh Salehi entitled "Criteria of Reviewing Works of Oral History of Holy Defense", Morteza Ghazi "Resolutions to Get Details in Oral History Interviews in Subject of Holy Defense" and a paper by Hamid Jianpour titled "Phenomenological Analysis of Content of Oral History Interview of the War ( Case Study, 77th Infantry Division of Khurasan)" were presented in this panel. Because of that the three panels were held simultaneously, Iranian Oral History Website reporter was only able to attend at the third panel.
At the beginning of the third panel, Hossein Foroutannejad, Director of Research, Training and Digital Technology of Organization of Holy Defense Documents and Proofs, said: "More than 140 articles were sent to scientific secretariat of the conference that 20 articles, despite the fact that they had very good and rich content, were rejected due to not being related to oral history so that friends and writers can use them in other conferences. Out of the 120 articles, 15 top articles have been selected that will be presented in three panels simultaneously. It is intended among papers which will be presented in each panel one article to be presented as the top article after the panels and at the end of the conference."



How the reviews should be?
Then, Peymaneh Salehi presented article of "Criteria of Reviewing Works of Oral History of Holy Defense": "My purpose in this research is to analyzing resulted criteria of review and criticizing from oral history interviews in order to promote qualitative critique of works of this field. Because, as friends know, various works have been published by various institutions in field of oral history of the holy defense, which I think should be criticized and reviewed at various intervals before they reach stage of arbitrament in festivals. I tried to present these criteria based on my experience in field of oral history to those who want to review these works. I hope it would be used by critics and improve works of this area.
One method for assessing quality of information and identifying weaknesses and strengths of a work in a specific framework is that a work to be reviewed. In field of oral history of Holy Defense, this is the same, especially in recent years, when we witness movement of publishing works in this area, and their number has increased significantly. We can review and criticize these works based on the main factors in field of oral history and criteria that lead us a constructive critique. I tried to show these criteria in this article. In fact, I want to show that it is possible to determine some criteria for review in this area. Different tastes are involved in publishing these works. Which indicators that my friends and I offer in their articles are more effective in this area? How is it possible to separate components of critique principles? And whether identifying the criteria for reviewing oral history texts of the sacred defense in practice can improve quality level of works in this area? In my opinion, one new phenomenon for new approaches to history studies, contrary to autobiography, is based on interview; and if purpose of oral history interview of the holy defense to be historiography of the holy defense, its nature goes beyond interview too and reader along with memories has access to interviewee information and reaches a multiple cognition. In addition, information collected through oral history is information of human minds and we obtain knowledge gained from their experience; that is a knowledge that is deeply understood, and is used; it means experience becomes knowledge, and this pure knowledge is used.

Holy Defense; our eight-year war which was called the imposed war at the time the war and later has been often called the sacred defense, is a very effective historical event. We can say that, like the Islamic Revolution, it can divide history into two parts: pre-war and post-war. An important event that has been source of research of our historians, and has been formed in context of several factors, and its starting point was where Imam Khomeini told the warriors that description of your epics will be recorded in history and do not let people like Kasravi to write your history and you yourselves write it. In my article, I have studied process of compiling works of the sacred defense from the time close to the war until now. We can categorize this period into three sections. Its first period coincided with the eight-year era of the Iran-Iraq War that emphasizes epic efforts of the warriors. The next period is from end of the war until midst of 1990s; in experiences of works of this period, we are faced with magnifications; but the third type of memory-writing that was begun since about 1990s and is still ongoing, faced with a positive look by researchers because it can be said they are gray; they are more realistic and have no black-and-white approach and are closer to historiography and historical perspective. Now that many years have passed since then, a new approach has been created that is so much more intelligent and to write history of the eight year war by new techniques. Oral history of the sacred defense has also begun since the 1990s, but its growth and prosperity, both in terms of quality and quantity has been in recent years, and we should not only deal with memories of fighters and commanders. In my opinion, oral history of the sacred defense is a much wider field of work and many works could be done. It includes various issues that I've addressed a few of them. It may be a historical text that can be soliloquy and narratives of people from days of the war. Oral history literature of the sacred defense is also related to literature of the front and the prisons. Several centers work on subject-oriented and person-oriented projects that I have reviewed them in my article.
Studying books of field of oral history of Holy Defense, I came to the question that which way of critique could actually be useful? And I brought a variety of criticisms. Influential factors in structure of attitude and their related levels and important elements in content explanation can be two groups of main and key factors, that each of them in practice, when the works are criticized, are divided into different branches. I tried to provide criteria that will lead us to constructive and positive critique. I tried to provide factors that are practical and able to be standardized and analyzed. Honorable critics should pay attention to these indicators, from the time we take a book in our hands and see title and cover of a work until a reader finishes reading the book and reaches back of the book. The title of the book is on cover of the book and before we reach content. I have reviewed its indicators. The title should be attractive and appropriate to oral history of the sacred defense. I checked right items so that name of interviewee must be on cover as owner of memories. Name of interviewer as person who has been involved and basis of oral history is based on his/her interview and editor's name also to be mentioned and name of other agents are also mentioned in copyright page. Content is very important because it is structure and framework of a book in which an interview has been written. Most times when we read a book, we find that interviewer has conducted interview very well, but unfortunately, compiler and editor have not been able to produce a very good book from this interview and raw material. If compiler to be interviewer that definitely does a better job. Works of oral history of the holy defense have weakness in introduction too; whether have they not spoken modus operandi, or have not written to what extent they have edited it? When was the interview conducted? How its framework was written? What resources have they used? What resources have been mentioned in footnotes? Introduction is very important and many works are weak in introduction. Every measure which is conducted to the interview should be presented very brief in introduction so that the reader or one who criticize the book and arbitrary to know how has been way of adjusting content, extent of editing and documentation. Sometimes interviewee's biography is not presented in interview. A brief biography should be included in the introduction.

The design and idea is very important; whether subject-oriented and person-oriented. Subject and choosing appropriate subjects is important. Each field of oral history of the holy defense should preferably be a subject that has not been addressed so far, especially if narrators are people who narrate the war not definitely the ones who were on the front. Works of oral history of the sacred defense should be based on a strong theme so that to be appealing; it is writer and researcher pen that can take the reader with him/her to end of the text; through presenting a structured text and a historical narrative to absorb the reader. We look at compilation from implementation stage, but from the very beginning of the interview, editing is really in progress, not when implementation is available to the compiler. Researching, documentation, and verifying interviews are also very important. Many times we see that a lot of minor things that do not need to be explained are explained in footnote, but some things that the compiler and interviewer need to deal with in documentation part are not addressed. Appendixes are also very important, for the reader to make a better communication with book when he sees images or the narrator's executive and research performance. In this regard, appendixes are so much considered. What we see today in most of works of oral history of the holy defense is that a paragraph is extracted from the text of the book and is presented at back of the book. It's worth it, but it's better to present an abstract of content in back of book cover to help readers buy the book and critics to arbitrary better. Conclusion is also made according to necessary criteria for providing and preparation items such as cover and front matter page, content and chaptering, introduction, design, motif, compilation, documentation and appendix. I have tried to examine issues that lead us to a positive and constructive critique, to be used in practice by critics, and fairness to be respected too; especially I addressed difficulties that researcher suffers for infusing the work into the reader. My suggestion is that friends to help and write other articles on this subject. Criticizing books should be really constructive so that we can see better works in field of oral history in the years to come; both new subjects to be presented and quality of the works to be improved."
Amir Mohammad Abbasnejad told Salehi about this article, "Your article gives an overview of reviewing literature and works of oral history of Holy Defense. You could present some of our concerns as critics to some extent in your article, but you should mention a few components; one is that in oral history works coherence and continuity of narratives should be considered and this is one problems of oral history work. Sometimes in narratives time sequence is not observed; going forward and backward disorders narrative time. As well as it is important to maintain and observing state of the narrator, which should be emphasized in oral history. The manual of style that the Organization of Holy Defense Documents and Proofs has provided to all oral history researchers is the most complete manual of style and should be respected. In general, I have to say you have addressed a new approach, and it is reviewing oral histories works."
Hossein Foroutannejad also stated about Salehi's article, "You handled almost all defects of the sacred defense books immediately on compiler; that interviewer does his work well and compiler cannot, in many cases, while it is not this way. Oral history book is different from memory. If you give two pages to an author or compiler of a memory, he/she would easily give you a 100-page book; to expand it more and turn it into a book, but in oral history, he/she can eventually edit and adjust the same material and present them. Manual of style of Holy Defense oral history and its compilation have been sent to all military and civilian organizations, and all their efforts are to use that format and go the same, even in designing cover. If you paid attention this morning, covers of all the books that were unveiled[1] followed a particular format. We usually allow interviewers to choose title of books. Oral history is complementary to our written documents and belongs to all people of society."


[1] At the inaugural and opening of the conference, there were book launch of 100 new volumes in field of oral history of Holy Defense.

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