Varisco says that its establishment was an attempt to capture the memories of a pre-modern and pre-oil wealth way of life that was quickly eroding. Shryock , who extensively studied the modern-day writing down of Bedouin oral traditions of Jordan, argues that the Arab tribal oral tradition rests in the shadow of official written accounts, be they of the current nation state, historical religious scholars, or colonial powers.
A repeated theme at the conference was the ongoing tension between the oral and the written historically and in the modern Arabic speaking world where there exist issues of diglossia, cultural biases toward the use of dialects, and a dominant idea of the superiority of classical written language.
The current holdings of the center include about audio cassettes of field interviews and music…The archives of the center include some VHS video cassettes of field research and about Beta cassettes p. She notes that the modern recreations of the Gulf past are often detached from the realities of the poverty and hardships of pre-oil life in the region. This is not to downplay the multitude of private citizens, primary schools, universities, and others who undertake oral history projects regularly in Qatar. But for the most part, what makes it into the public domain adheres to the narrative framework already set by the state.
It is in museums that government narratives take physical form. I personally had an aunt [i. Fortuitously, the use of oral histories in museums actually fits the proclivities of Gulf visitors who are less inclined to consult written exhibition materials. Outside of museums, there is a surplus, perhaps even an excess, of oral history projects on Qatar. Government ministries, public and private institutions of learning, sports and media organizations, cultural heritage centers, and people with tribal affiliations have all undertaken oral history projects in Qatar.
For example, the former GCC oral history collection mentioned earlier in this paper is now housed at the Ministry of Culture, just one of many such collections in its custody. Oral histories have especially been promoted by the Western universities that have satellite campuses in Qatar. Perhaps some well-connected academics are allowed access to such collections, but in general the most well-known collections of oral histories are not necessarily accessible to researchers or the general public.
It should be noted that the oral histories researchers in the Gulf collect for their own thesis and dissertations, and which may only be partially treated or cited in what they eventually publish can also be counted in the vast corpus of untouched Gulf oral histories that have for the most part gone silent Shopes In addition, while the documenting of archives, sites and oral histories creates an essential resource for further research in certain areas, [they do]… not create a representative archive of the entirety of heritage practice and conceptions in Qatar, whose forms may elude such methods of documentation p.
Of course not all oral histories are created equal and are of similar value to the historical record. Those evaluating and interpreting oral histories have to be able to differentiate between unique and representative accounts. This is probably easiest done when evaluating a corpus of histories centered on a common theme. Evaluations of oral history collections could include analysis of how the memories themselves were produced Abrams in addition to examinations of the validity and representativeness of the individual oral histories through comparing multiple interviews providing accounts of the same phenomena, quantification, or data triangulation.
This might explain why, for the most part, oral history in Qatar and the greater Gulf region has not been used by activists as an empowerment tool for the disenfranchised or for social and political change as Abrams described occurring in other parts of the world. Political sensitivities guard what is said and left unsaid publically. Political sensitivities and Gulf cultural norms are also believed to impact interview relations as well as the ability to use oral testimonies post-interview. An oral historian who works in the region says that the amount of intimacy that has to be actively developed by interviewers in order to gain access to locals can sometimes be counterproductive.
This is because the oral histories become more like intimate disclosures that, even in light of the attainment of written legal consent, can come to be seen by both the interviewer and interviewee as not appropriate for the public or general reuse Hadeel Eltayeb, personal communication 26 June The absence of viable publicly accessible Gulf oral history collections is due to multiple factors, among them: lack of processing sometimes inhibited by generational changes in dialect cooke , poor preservation and protectiveness. No institution, especially if it receives government support, wants to risk being tied to counter narratives.
However, it is only by providing wider access that oral histories can add value to the historical record. As pointed out by Teskey and Alkhamis , the Gulf region is not lacking in collections of recorded oral histories; however, those institutions housing them rarely make the collection available to the public or even to researchers p. Qatar, which has invested heavily in its heritage sector through the development of libraries and museums, has quite shockingly neglected archives with a few exceptions. Some may attribute this to the declared paucity of documentary heritage in the country.
The lack of knowledge and application of professional archival standards is already effecting the preservation and access to the multitude of oral histories that have been recorded in the country over the past few decades.
Poor processing and preservation means that researchers have for the most part been unable to carry out any in-depth analysis of the multitude of oral history collections dispersed around Qatar. At present, we lack an understanding of the content, subject matter and meanings that could be found in the recordings. Moreover, we do not know the quality of the existent recordings, or even if the earliest cassette tapes are still in viable form.
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Further research on historical collections of Qatari oral histories, once given access, could provide valuable insights into the extent to which Gulf cultural traits such as reticence and notions of privacy have shaped the actual recorded interviews. However, the true preservation of the materials on which the voices are stored has not been as well addressed in most places in the Gulf. The societies in the Arabian Gulf may not have the privilege of the questioning of the historical validity of oral histories and their place in formal archives.
They are carrying out a relative cultural triage project to salvage what can be reasonably known about their past. Their work, outside of formal archival constraints, is not done in opposition to formal archival procedures, but for the purpose of addressing deep desires to know the past in the face of silences and lacunas.
When asked if such photographs exist, she replied in the negative, but she wished that they existed. It is to this ravenous longing for knowledge about the past that oral histories in the Gulf speak. There is hesitancy, however, among private collectors to provide access to their collections. Skip to main content Skip to sections. Advertisement Hide. Download PDF. Open Access.
First Online: 11 July That archivists still have a role to play in oral history becomes apparent after examining the Qatari cultural heritage documentation milieu. There is a relative weakness of archival science and a paucity of professionally trained-archivists and formal archives in a region where oral history is often not supplementing, but rather producing the historical record. Oral history has come to be seen as a crucial tool in documenting Arabian also known as Persian Gulf history with little concern about the authenticity of the oral record being recorded.
As the country moves further away from its desert-dwelling and pearl-diving past, and the generations who knew that way of life pass away, there have been wide scale efforts by a younger generation to document earlier times via oral histories. In Qatar, for example, [t]here are also attempts to teach oral history as a subject, across disciplines, by both Arabic and Western instructors in schools and universities.
When oral histories are incorporated into archives, they too require documentation. In fact, he goes even further to say that [o]ral histories that lack such essentials as adequate documentation of the process of their creation, transcripts for each interview, narrator contracts, and other important elements can seldom be considered viable candidates for acquisition. Heard-Bey clarifies the absence of traditional, government derived archives by explaining that the small tribal units that populated the Gulf region had little need for formal written administration, and therefore did not produce administrative records.
She explains: Even records of financial transactions such as loans and payments were rarely kept in writing -and most of those, which were recorded on paper, did not survive the time because of the adverse climate.
Oral History and Public Memories
Six years after the opening of the Centre, Varisco wrote that [f]ield interviews are for the most part recorded and transcribed. While Cook saw archives moving away from statist, power-based structures in post-modernity and toward a collective, memory-based structure, this has not been the case in the Gulf. In the Gulf, where heritage is a project of the nation state al-Malki , oral history narratives can go through selective recording and purposeful curation.
The as-yet-to open new Qatar National Museum will be a house of oral histories. In Qatar, which has repeatedly been declared to be lacking in historical artifacts cooke ; Cooper and Exell at least within the public domain, 2 oral histories, presented in audio and audiovisual form, are a core anchoring feature in museum exhibits. Teller explains that for the new national museum: [R]esearchers have gone out into the back streets and the villages to talk to those who remember the way things used to be.
Msheireb Museums consists of four traditional houses of elite families that were turned into museums in the celebrated and recently gentrified Msheireb neighborhood of Doha. Msheireb Properties, which manages the museums, has its own collection of video oral histories from which relevant narratives are chosen to complement the ongoing exhibits throughout the Museums.
The extent to which oral history is the most appropriate medium to document Gulf life has been called into question. A space should also be created to question histories. The appearance of online websites of Qatari and Qatar-based oral histories is one way in which the fixed nature of a story as an official recount is easily augmented by the sharing of the stories in a way that is dynamic and diversifying. The use of digital tools at once fixes narratives in time and space, but also allows for a fluidity Frisch that enables them to be easily juxtaposed with other narratives.
Considering the strong but not total censorship policies present in Gulf nations Gremm et al. Abrams says that: [r]emembering is typically conducted using a memory frame, which we might describe as a locus or field which makes remembering possible. Abrams L The transformations of oral history. Bloomsbury Press, London, pp 88— Google Scholar.
Abrams L Oral history theory. Routledge, London Google Scholar. Abugideiri H A labor of love: making space for midwives in Gulf history. In: Sonbol AE ed Gulf women. Aguilar J Msheireb museums focus more on oral history than artifacts. Gulf Times. Accessed 4 April Alexander B Excluding archival silences: oral history and historical absence.
Ashgate, Farnham, pp — Google Scholar. Al-Shamlan M Exploring the dialectic of the Qatari identity formation on the verge of modernization. Routledge, London, pp — Google Scholar. In: Abi-Mershed O ed. Produce and Present Information produce a final project in print, audio, video, Webpage or CDRom form; give a class presentation of your research "return" the information gleaned from the research project to the interviewees and community in some publicly accessible format live or virtual. You will have the opportunity to work both individually and collectively, according to the research topics.
The class will be conducted as a seminar. Part of each three-hour session will be devoted to methods, part to discussion of critical readings, and once the field work begins, a significant portion of class time will be spent in discussing the projects themselves. We will see films, listen to tapes, and comment critically on them. You will be asked to report on your progress, to share problems and successes, and to seek advice from your fellow students. Your final projects will be shared with the class and hopefully with the public and community. Integrate living memory and testimony with other methods of research and sources of information in order to analyze real world issues more effectively; Learn the methods and techniques of oral interviewing and archival documentation; Conduct in depth oral history and life history interviews, in an ethical, Culturally sensitive, and respectful manner Interpret the symbolic, cultural, historical, and cognitive meanings in oral narratives and other forms of documentation; Critically use cultural and socio-historical theories and paradigms to interpret narrative and other texts; Analyze, interpret and present research in socially and culturally responsible ways, advancing new understanding of issues and problems.
Return research to community and scholarly audiences as a contribution to resolving the problem or issue addressed in the research. Students must inform the professor as to which requirements they are fulfilling lower or upper division , as the criteria for these differ. Students will be evaluated and graded according to the criteria for the specific requirements they are meeting.
Liberal Studies — This course also helps meet Liberal Studies requirements. Liberal Studies students should inform the professor as to which requirements they are meeting so that projects are tailored to these outcomes. Students needed assessment in Global will pay special attention to global implications of their topics of local oral history research. They should consult their major advisor for special assessment with Global Studies. Service Learning — A small number of students enrolled in this course no more than 8 may add 2 units of upper division Service Learning in the Major.
These students will be placed in community agencies or organizations that are interested in developing oral histories of their organizations. Students will spend an average of 3 additional hours in the field, designing and carrying out oral history interviews for that organization.
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The work done in the field may be used for the final class project, with the consent of the organization and the professor. Students who add those two units will also have occasional special meetings with the professor, by arrangement, to discuss problems and reflect upon the particular learning taking place in the field. Acquiring, interpreting, evaluating, and applying information from diverse sources to the analysis of an issue or problem.
Liberal Studies students needing assessment in Global will pay special attention to global dimensions of local issues or problems chosen for oral history research. Oral history will be the primary method of investigation, but you will be expected to use other research strategies and methods library, internet, archival, visual documentation, field observation, collection of memorabilia, etc. You must demonstrate that you are able to acquire this information from diverse sources — giving special weight to recording oral and life history in a local community.
You must demonstrate that You can integrate, interpret, evaluate, and apply the many kinds of information you have gathered: reflecting diverse and competing opinions and interpretations — including your own; establishing hypotheses and testing multiple sources of information against each other; showing the relevance of your findings to theory; and showing that you understand the implications of the methods you have used in the project.
You must make copies your tapes, logs, transcripts, and archival release forms. You are responsible for insuring that your interviewees receive these copies at the end of the project. You must present your research project so that it can be effectively and meaningfully understood by both scholarly and community audiences. Does the research project provide information related to an identifiable, significant real-world problem or issue? Does the analysis provide reasonable and dear interpretations of the information?
Does the analysis reflect thoughtful consideration of potentially different interpretations? Does the analysis reflect ethical, culturally sensitive, and socially responsible concerns? Does the analysis reflect an understanding of relevant theories and methods of interpretation? Does the analysis contribute original thinking to the problem? Does the analysis consider the relationship between the meaning of the information and the form in which it is represented or preserved? Does the analysis provide critical assessments of the information, including such considerations as source credibility, ideology, multiple and competing interpretations, truthfulness, and accuracy?
Does the research assess the degree to which the information contributes to understanding and addressing the relevant issue or problem? Does the research project make primary and effective use of oral testimony? Does it make adequate and effective use of other documentary sources? Does it make effective use of theory and critical analyses? Does it make clear, concise connections between the information and the relevant issue or problem?
Does the use of information effectively advance the purpose of the research? Does the presentation make primary and effective use of oral testimony? Does it make adequate and effective use of other documentary sources Does it make effective use of critical analysis? Is the research project presented effectively and responsibly? Can it be presented in both a classroom and a community setting? Does the presentation advance the purpose of the research and bring new understanding to the public?
Did the interviewees receive copies of their tapes, logs, transcripts, archival release forms? Additional Criteria for Service Learning: Students adding 2 units for Oral History Service Learning will be assessed by all the above criteria and the following additional considerations:.
Did the project prioritize and advance the work of the agency? Did the project advance resolution of the community identified need? Was the project carried out in an ethical, responsible, and culturally sensitive fashion?
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