I am Nasrine is the tale of two Iranian siblings who migrate to England and find a world of rampant discrimination that looks little like what they expected. The tragedy of the film is not one that can be easily limited to English housing estates or the plight of Iranian emigres. Indeed, this tale of migrant survival and struggle is far more universal, a searing indictment of the limits of liberalism and the failure of international and local humanitarian bureaucracies — as well as receiving societies as a whole — to effectively understand migrants as complex human beings. Continue reading
This first podcast in our series is a look at Iranian contemporary music in a global context. The music in this mix not only crosses between the genres of hip-hop, rock, and electronic, but also crosses geographic borders. This mix features not only Iranian artists in Iran and in the diaspora, but also a number of non-Iranian acts with whom their music is in conversation. Continue reading
There are mountains and there are roads. From an airplane, Eastern Anatolia looks like Frankenstein’s monster as the craggy mountains of the Zargos, Tarsus, and Caucasus ranges collide with geologic logic, sutured together by some of the finest roadways in the world. The modern republics facing this jagged jumble are as powerful as that monster, but perhaps also as hollow. Continue reading
In 2013, we covered a wide variety of topics ranging from gender and sexuality politics in contemporary Iranian cinema to the attractions of Zionism to Iran’s pre-revolutionary elites, provoking a great deal of controversy along the way. Check out our ten most-viewed articles from 2013.
Like the city itself, the Imam Reza shrine complex grew gradually over time as political elites tried to establish their legitimacy. Rulers strove not only to appease the local religious establishment by funding elaborate building projects around the site, but also hoped to create physical testaments to their political authority. Due to the inherent political nature of these structures, the site was destroyed and subsequently rebuilt as it changed hands from dynasty to dynasty. Continue reading
In a world where politicians like to create and emphasize differences between the so-called “West” and Iran, and even regional differences in the country itself, Ajam Band and its musical forefathers allow us musical glimpses of Iran that embrace paradox and encourage Iranians and non-Iranians alike to turn to their identities, as mixed and incoherent as they may be, as a source of pride. Continue reading
The material success that many Iranians have enjoyed in this country has obscured their connections with other discriminated groups, and instead fostered an attitude of “lay low, don’t make trouble,” that idealizes financial success as the key to realizing the American Dream. Despite the racial discrimination Iranians regularly face as a community in the United States, many continue to insist upon their own Whiteness, refusing to even consider the question, “Are Iranians People of Color?” Continue reading
Languages such as Punjabi and Pashto offer a versatile slang to many a Pakistani street. And the streets are where lyrics overwhelmingly situate rap. The introduction of Punjabi-American rap into Pakistan invigorated its rappers by furnishing them with a vernacular familiar with their experiences. Far from a shadow of its American progenitor, contemporary Pakistani rap thrives in engaged dialectic with local and global trends in the genre. Continue reading
The gender politics of the Islamic Republic look nothing like those of the Pahlavi regime, and they look nothing like what most outside observers or Iranians would have predicted back in 1979. How did all this happen? A list of key books to help answer that question, tackling the issue of gender politics in the Islamic Republic through the questions of gender, sex, and sexuality so central to understanding modern Iran. Continue reading
Focusing on the city of Shiraz, Setrag Manoukian’s City of Knowledge examines why it has emerged as a place so saturated with national significance, the techniques used to achieve this, and just how fraught this process continues to be. Continue reading
Since the 1979 revolution, Iran has been placed under increasingly harsh rounds of sanctions by the US, the European Union, and the United Nations. The latest and strongest round of these sanctions were enacted during the early years of the Obama administration, and have made life increasingly difficult for average Iranians. Despite the significant effects that sanctions have had on all aspects of the lives of Iranian people, it can be hard at times to appreciate their impact in everyday terms. We’ve compiled a list of 15 photographs to help illustrate these impacts.
Perceptions of historical identities and present identities have always gone hand-in-hand on the basis of heritage and descent. Artefacts that remain from these histories are not only remnants of past events and peoples, but also raw materials for potentially new projects of nation-building and identity formation, depending on how they are interpreted. Continue reading