The National Archives Organizes a Training Course about Oral History standards for Cooperating Researchers

The National Archives Organizes a Training Course about Oral History standards for Cooperating Researchers

The National Archives Organizes a Training Course about Oral History standards for Cooperating Researchers

The UAE’s National Archives organized a training course in Al Ain about the international standards adopted by the NA starting from the selection of narrators, field challenges faced by the researcher, methods of conducting interviews, and determining its topics. This is in addition to tabulating interviews, classifying its content, analyzing its information, drafting and writing the interviews down and then preparing them as a research documenting the Memory of the Nation.
Dr. Aisha Bilkhair, Director of Research and Knowledge Services Department, attended the course as a representative of Asia in the International Oral History Association. Abeer Basharahil, a researcher responsible for the researchers cooperating with the NA from outside, delivered a lecture in the training course.
In respect of the course, Dr. Aisha Bilkhair said, “The NA showed actual interest in oral history upon the issuance of Federal Law No. 7 of 2008 regarding the NA, issued by H.H. Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE. Article (1) thereof regarding oral history states ‘Oral Archive: Information orally gathered by the Center, and is recorded in writing and audio form, thus supplementing already existing knowledge or filling gaps therein, or providing information that has never been recorded before, and are added to the Center's holdings after being officially documented.’”
Dr. Aisha Bilkhair added, “During its journey of collecting and preserving oral history, the NA adopts the best international standards and practices in this respect, which enables it to be a member of the international organizations and authorities specialized in this field. Therefore, with the efforts of researcher Abeer Basharahil, we prefer to circulate these standards among those who work in cooperation with the NA on conducting the oral history interviews without being bound to the NA’s working hours.
The Director of Research and Knowledge Services Department assured that the NA spares no effort to benefit from the advanced experiences of the developed countries. In the quest of enhancing the importance of oral history in highlighting the past of the fathers and ancestors among the UAE’s citizens, the NA provided a series of training lectures at UAE universities and institutes about the bases of their scientific research methodology and how to conduct oral history interviews according to the best practices and highest standards.
After that, researcher Abeer Basharahi started the training course by defining oral history and discussing its interest in the individuals’ biographies, experiences, life details, and type of life in the past in different political, economic, social, and cultural areas. She pointed out that each elderly person who participated in founding the UAE has his own important experience. She considers working in the field of oral history as a race against time since oral history’s information is collected from the elderly who have experienced significant events in the UAE’s history.
The course handled the scientific methods of collecting and documenting oral history. It listed the oral history interview’s stages starting from the standards of selecting the narrator, how to collect data about him, and then contact him. The next stages are determining an appointment for the interview to record the conversation and identifying the main topics of the questions in a way that they become helpful and add new information to the oral history record. The following stages are monitoring the interview progress, interpreting and documenting the meaning of the UAE’s dialects, and make it available for the researchers.
The researcher stated that those who collect oral history should be fascinated with knowledge and research and have the proper communication skills to stimulate the narrator’s memory in order to get information and details that close the historical gaps which have not been recorded yet.
In presenting the ideal oral history interviews, the researcher used samples of her interviews, which were classified as per the scientific methodology and international oral history standards. This is in addition to the use of audio-visual recordings to show the challenges faced by the researchers during the interview.