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Beeta Baghoolizadeh

This category contains 6 posts

Constructing Sacred Space: An Architectural History of Mashhad’s Imam Reza Shrine

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 »

Marriage Contracts and the Mashhadi Jewish Community: Art as a Second Identity in the Nineteenth Century

During the 19th century, Mashhadi Jews cloaked their identities and lived their public lives as Muslims. As a result, major documents, such as marriage contracts, mimicked their Muslim counterparts. The language, art, and general presentation of the texts serve as clues towards better understanding the precarious position of the Mashhadi Jewish community, as well the preferred aesthetics of the period. Continue reading »

Reconstructing a Persian Past: Contemporary Uses and Misuses of the Cyrus Cylinder in Iranian Nationalist Discourse

Although the Cyrus Cylinder is over 2,500 years old, much of the discourse surrounding its function has emerged only in the past century. While nationalists believe the cylinder to be a symbol of human rights and religious freedom, academics agree that it was a political inscription common for its milieu. Continue reading »

Re-imagining Eurasia with Slavs and Tatars: Critical Practices of Geography and Museum Exhibition

Slavs and Tatars’ work introduces audiences to cultural exchanges between seemingly unlikely places, reminding us of the interconnected nature of culture and highlighting histories obscured by the rigid workings of modern geopolitics. In a world full of heavy-handed visual depictions of political and social issues that rely on simplistic, reductionist constructions of culture, Slavs and Tatars offers work rooted in a nuance and more subtle understanding of history. Continue reading »

Ferdowsi’s Legacy: Examining Persian Nationalist Myths of the Shahnameh

A tribute to Ajam Media Collective’s name and inspiration, this post was written by Ajam’s editors, Alex Shams, Rustin Zarkar, and Beeta Baghoolizadeh. Photographs by Preethi Nallu originally published in Al Akhbar English, republished with author permission. Epic literature occupies a key role in formulating and maintaining cohesive national and cultural identities– elucidating the spirit … Continue reading »

The Afro-Iranian Community: Beyond Haji Firuz Blackface, the Slave Trade, & Bandari Music

Over the next few months, Ajam Media Collective will host a series that focuses on and describes various elements of the cultural, ethnic and linguistic mosaic that we refer to collectively as Iran. This is Part 2 in that series, focusing on Afro-Iranians. Check out Part 1, “A “Persian” Iran?: Challenging the Aryan Myth and … Continue reading »