Citizen Historian of the Month: Eman Abdul-Razzaq Ibrahim
Tell History relies upon a network of dedicated citizen historians to collect important stories–stories that are all around us, but need to be collected, preserved and shared. Every month we recognize one of our amazing citizen historians who make the effort to save stories and fill the gaps in history.
This month, we celebrate Eman Abdul-Razzaq Ibrahim as our Citizen Historian of the Month. Eman has done an incredible job conducting interviews across Kurdistan, North Iraq in some incredible locations. She is also an incredible supporter and we’re so humbled she’s seeking out these amazing stories in her community. We talked to the 20-year old medical student about what motivates her to save histories.
Were you previously interested in history? What made you get into it?
It was when I visited Erbil museum at the age of 11 that I truly got interested in history- mainly Kurdish history.
By that time I had already studied history at elementary school but sometimes visualizing and engaging with for instance; the remainders of the people in the past helps to enjoy the subject more, especially for kids. The tour in Erbil museum made me grow an interest in history. I can relate Tell History’s way of spreading history now, like the museum- it’s entertaining!
I did study history at school for five years. It was interesting to find out how by time daily issues, lifestyles and cultural taboos changed and improved. The focus was mostly on the imperators of Iraq and Kurdistan and the development of buildings, writing…etc.
So Eman, what is your favorite area of history?
As a technology advocate and innovator, my favorite period of history is clearly 20th -21st centuries- the era of revolutionary technology. For a lot of reasons, I think now is a great time to be alive. No matter how bad news reporters might say things are, truth is that the world is more peaceful than in the past. Technology is improving, and a lot of problems of the past have been made easy with technology.
And my favorite region is Iraq. It has always been filled with rich histories of all times, for instance, the development of architectural buildings.
What made you start using Tell History?
Because I realized that the interest in history is slowly vanishing in our modern life. As for myself personally, I find it a great way to enrich my information in this criteria that I felt I have lost too much interest for lately.
What is your favorite aspect of Tell History?
The science and tech criteria.
Do you think there are people, groups, or historical events that don’t get enough attention?
Yes there are! Because maybe there are some people that don’t get enough publicity but truly hide most precious stories in little places here and there.
What stories have you been collecting?
Until now I have been collecting stories about events that occurred in Kurdistan.
Why are you collecting these stories in particular?
Because when I listened to the stories by the tellers myself, I realized how they have been forgotten and gone unnoticed. I collect the untold stories from Kurdistan that really had an impact on the community.
Have you noticed if people from different generations there feel differently about the importance of history?
I think yes they do. We know that in our modern day, the more we engage with the social media and what might happen tomorrow or in the future, the less people take time to read about the past.
Are there any stories would you like to collect, but have not been able to so far?
I’d like to randomly get stories from people in public places and the bazaar- especially from the old. Because I believe they hold the most valuable untold stories.
Go for it Eman! The Bazaar in Erbil is a fascinating place – we can see why you want to go there!
We know you’re planning on submitting something quite special to Tell History soon… want to say a bit about it?
Yes, I’m planning to submit a series of stories about how education/ health care system has been changing over the last decade.
And I’m also planning to record stories myself about Kurdistan’s security (I have witnessed a number of bomb explosions since I was about 9-10) and I have made some research on these issues while working on the development of a bomb detection system.
You’ve got some incredible stories – what would you say to someone who was thinking about becoming a citizen historian? Do you have any advice for getting started? Any advice for encouraging people to talk on camera (we know this can be tricky in Kurdistan)?
I would strongly encourage them to be citizen historians if they like discovering stories told by other people and are curious about the past. By doing this little work they will obtain a lot of different insights and perspectives from many story tellers that might have a significant impact on their lives.
As for advising the people of Kurdistan to talk on camera, I still haven’t come to the point why they don’t like showing up on camera but I want to encourage them to be confident and just go ahead tell stories about Kurdistan, we really need more of this to help introduce our -soon to be independent- country.
Is there anything that you have found surprising or something you’ve learnt as a citizen historian?
I’m surprised that I’ve become this curious lately that I tell my grandmas to tell me stories of their days, what it was like living as a girl in their society was back in time. I didn’t use to do that before.