Topic Choice for Oral History Interview – Amr Salahi

For my oral history interview, I have two possible topics in mind – both of them concern the history of Syria. My first choice is to interview a person who participated in the protests which marked the beginning of the Syrian revolution in March 2011. I hope to explore the motivations which led people to take part in the protests, the reaction of the Syrian government to the protests and how it repressed them, what people hoped that the protests would achieve, why people feel the protests didn’t achieve their principle aim of toppling President Bashar al-Assad’s government, and the how the situation escalated into the current civil conflict. In my view, the original causes of the Syrian revolution and conflict are rapidly being forgotten as the situation develops in ways that no one who took part in the original protests expected.  I believe that this topic will be significant to public oral history in that it will allow people to explore the most significant event in modern Syrian history in a new and reflective way, without being caught up in the tumultuousness of current events. Even though there is precedent for this work in the American University in Cairo’s University on the Square Project in Egypt: http://digitalcollections.aucegypt.edu/cdm/landingpage/collection/p15795coll7, I realise that exploring a recent and ongoing event may present difficulties. I have an alternative topic and category of interviewee in mind – a person who was a witness to the Hama massacre of 1982. If I choose this topic I would like to explore the events of the massacre, how the person was affected, the aftermath and the blackout of events imposed by the Syrian government, and how the people of the city dealt with the fact that they could not discuss in any way. shape, or form the destruction of so much of their city and the killing of tens of thousands of their fellow citizens. I hope that such an interview will provide an insight into, and an accessible record of, an event that has been covered up, repressed, and spoken of in whispers in Syria for such a long time.

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