It is a fascinating accident of history that “Persian carpets” became a part, albeit a small one, of South African whiteness.
As Ajam Media Collective celebrates its fourth anniversary and the start of 2016, we wanted to review our successes and our 10 best articles of 2015.
In another installment of the Emerging Scholarship series, Mikiya Koyagi talks about the construction of the Trans-Iranian Railroad and how it transformed conceptions of Iranian society.
The fact that Iranians talk about brain drain as if it was a uniquely huge Iranian problem suggests that brain drain is a proxy for their anxieties about the state of the country, rather than actual empirical evaluation of the country’s migration. (Image Credit: Alireza Darvish)
A photo essay depicting Muharram observances and preparation across Iran in October of 2015. During the Islamic month of Muharram, Muslims of all backgrounds participate in a series of rituals observing the martyrdom of Husayn ibn ‘Ali, the grandson of the prophet Muhammad, and his companions at the Battle of Karbala in 680 A.D.
Ajam co-editor-in-chief Alex Shams interviews Shahana Rajani and Zahra Malkani about their new edited volume “Exhausted Geographies,” which explores representations of the urban space of Karachi, Pakistan through mapping. Continue reading
In the wake of the Ankara bombings, we investigate language of solidarity and liberty during protest movements. Continue reading
The Iranian national canon, whatever it means to different people, is primarily studied as a continuation of the “Persian literary canon” while Afghan and Tajik literatures are treated as a divergence, and consequently lose the Persian qualifier. Persian literary production outside of Iran is essentially treated as an exotic object in an uncharted terrain. Continue reading
In another installment of the Emerging Scholarship series, Narges Bajoghli talks about Paramilitary Media during and after the Iran-Iraq War. Bajoghli explains the rise of war veteran filmmakers who have produced alternative narratives about the eight-year conflict in order to better communicate the “truth of war” to a younger generation of Iranians. Continue reading
Through Bashu’s attempts to assimilate into a village where his dark skinned features and Khuzestani Arabic denotes his displacement, Beizai’s film prompts criticisms of ethnocentric Persian nationalism and questions the experience of blackness in Iran, while neatly underscoring the tension between nationalism and gender. Continue reading
The Paykan, like many of its drivers, has survived the tumult of revolution, war, reconstruction, and economic crises. The resilience of the Paykan mirrors that of 20th and 21st Century Iran, which can explain why it still endures not only as functional car, but also as a symbol of collective experiences and an object of nostalgia. Continue reading
Ajam MC interviews Patrick Redford of Vice Sports about his participation in the Tour d’Azerbaijan and the theatricality of sports in the young nation-state. Continue reading
Afghan refugees in Turkey are in legal limbo in which their status is unclear. They have the right to reside in the country, but lack the right to work or the kind of state assistance needed to avoid working. To be a refugee in Turkey then requires navigating life between a state-acknowledged realm of illegality, and the uncertainty of how global trends can affect the fate of a refugee population.
The items collected for the Ajam Digital Archive will allow us to document and record history from below—how it was actually lived, experienced, and understood. It is precisely these histories that were ignored in favor of tales that focused exclusively on wars and revolutions, rarely giving us a sense of how life was lived amidst it all. Continue reading
This guest mix from Outtalectuals takes the Ajam mixtape series to new planes, both sonically and geographically. This mix came to fruition as an attempt to use the Ajam platform to show artists who are critically and uniquely engaging with music that is often cordoned off into the “world music” sphere. Instead, Outtalectuals takes these sounds as influences to deeply connect with, rather than cliches to reproduce and slightly modify. Continue reading
These types of documentary ventures, both filmic and photographic, identify a racialized community as their subject, visibly recognizable by their visual characteristics. Despite this clear reliance on race, there is rarely much attention given to the issue of race itself. Instead, most tend to emphasize successful assimilation predicated on nationalist sentiments and champion the diversity of these communities. By ignoring race and its relationship to photography, we overlook crucial elements that have structured similar stories in the past. Continue reading
National monuments in the Uzbek public sphere are often viewed as indicators of A concerted effort to break from Russian historiography and establish counter-narratives predating both Tsarist imperialism and the Soviet experience. However, if one carefully examines 20th century mechanisms of control in Central Asia, it is clear that Uzbek strategies to resignify historical and literary figures are derived from Soviet historiography. Continue reading
إن تاريخ وطبيعة التغييرات السياسية في معنى الهوية الوطنية والعرقية في إيران يسلط الضوء على أشكال الصراعات والتناقضات التي عرفتها جميع الدول في حقبة ما بعد الإستعمار. على الرغم من أن الأيديولوجيات تهدف إلى تعزيز الشعور والوعي الوطني – سواء العلمانية القومية الفارسية البهلوية أو القومية العربية العلمانية أو القومية الثورية الإيرانية الدينية- إلا أنها جميعاً ترتكز حول فكرة الحصرية، حصرية من يُشكل الأمة وكيفية الإنتماء إلى المجتمع الوطني المحصور بثقافة ولغة واحدة. Continue reading
Set amid the financial collapse of 2009, Bailout follows the story of Shalah or “Shay,” an Iranian-American woman living in Philadelphia, who struggles to hide her own entrapment in the most American of traditions — credit card debt — from her family members who all harbor their own untold secrets. Continue reading