IBNA-The oral history project manager Vahid Tabaei elaborated on oral history definition as well as his current projects in this area.
For Tabaei, oral history is a part of contemporary history at whose heart is incident. “We take an incident and interview the people who have taken part in it or have been its eyewitnesses,” he said. In an interview with IBNA, Tabaei said that the difference between oral history and memory is that when someone talks on his memory or writes on it, he retells some part of the incidents that has had impact on him/her. “But oral history like truth is a mirror in the sky. This mirror is fallen and broken in the earth and everyone sees himself in one part of it. Memory is like the broken part which everyone sees himself in it and tells his memory in his own point of view. However, oral history is the whole mirror of all the incidents and the whole memories come together to create the oral history of some specific event,” he said. About the difference between oral history and the traditional and written history, Tabaie said: “The first and primary difference between these two schools is their narrator. In oral history the narrator is someone who has participated in an event and retells it. But in traditional history, someone asks some people about some subject and finally he/she comes to a conclusion and inference, and writes his/her own inference. However, In our oral history projects, we investigate some documents to elevate our own knowledge of the subject and to provide some history which is close to truth”. About how much these documents are reliable, Tabaei insisted that oral history has some principle according to which whatever the interviewee says is taken as truth. “But we investigate the documents in order to assure ourselves that we are close to truth,” he asserted. Vahid Tabaei said that unfortunately in Iran writing and documenting is almost neglected and all affairs are kept in people’s memory. Furthermore, in some certain events people don’t retell the events impartially and this is particularly true when they talk about politics. Here, they incorporate their political tendencies as well as bias in their interview. About his major purposes of his oral history projects, he said: “What I do is in management area and the projects consist of managers and organizations. We intend to create a documented history of management after the Revolution and we use Knowledge management to document the managers’experiences,” Tabaei added that “after the Revolution, we saw the presence of young managers in large organizations in order to perform huge responsibilities. The country paid a lot for these managers and to block wasting away these experiences, we try to document their experiences in a trainable knowledge form, so, the future managers can use them”. He added that managers in other countries write all their daily accounts and leave behind a document which the subsequent managers use, but in Iran such a scientific stream does not exist”. In our country due to the lack of management stability and because our management is governmental, with changing the governments, our managers change too and this hurts the country so we need a document for the new managers to use and complete the previous projects for which the government has paid a lot”. About his projects, Tabaei said that in 1994, he initiated a project called “The National Book on Iranian Managers’ Experiences.” In this project he interviewed some top managers in political, economic and cultural areas. “Some prominent professors helped us in this project to prepare good questions related to management and to make the issue interesting. Finally interviews with 62 managers were published,” Tabaei said adding that the second volume of the book is ready but has not been published yet. “Our purpose is qualifying the second book and selecting some managers such as Tehran’s mayor, whose impact on the society is more obvious.” he stated. The initial idea of the book ‘Oral History of the Central Bank of Iran’ (CBI) appeared from “The National Book on Iranian Managers’ Experiences’. Those in charge of Monetary and Banking Research Institute had seen the book and suggested creating the oral history of the Central Bank, according to Tabaei. The first volume of ‘The Oral History of the Central Bank’ was unveiled in 2010 for the 50th anniversary of the Central Bank’s establishment. The other three volumes were written by Mohammad Hossein Danaei and the whole four volumes were unveiled in 2013.