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The King Hasn’t Left The Building: An Oral History of an Afghan Musical Icon, Ahmad Zahir

Ahmad Zahir, the major Afghan pop singer of the 1970s, died mysteriously in 1979, a year of upheaval and turmoil in Afghanistan’s political history. Since then, many Afghans, in diaspora and in Afghanistan, maintain a special relationship with Ahmad Zahir and his music. This article explores the memory of one family in using Ahmad Zahir as a way to connect to their homeland. Continue reading »

Becoming a Post-Soviet City: Social Housing and Urban Planning in Yerevan

Since gaining independence, Yerevan has been subjected to a complex process of postcolonial nation-building while simultaneously adopting globalized urbanization trends. Similar to many other gentrifying cities, demolition and displacement are becoming more and more a common practice. New multinational construction projects are presented and justified as acts of nation-building while the low income majority is expected by the emerging elite to make sacrifices for the benefit of the nation as a whole. Continue reading »

On Literature and Worldliness: A Conversation with Mahmoud Dowlatabadi

What does it truly mean to be worldly, and yet rooted in the geographical, historical, and cultural circumstances that mandate artistic expression? A conversation with one of the masters of modern Persian literature, Mahmoud Dowlatabadi. Continue reading »

Accelerating Beyond “Iran”? An Interview with Mohammad Salemy on Telecomputation, Digital Production, and Diaspora

While the theoretical problem of the local and global has been long exhausted by the globalization of Iranian cultural capital, the radical treatment of this binary in Mohammad Salemy’s curatorial practice through his engagement with Reza Negarestani’s brand of universal and rationalist philosophy is reenergizing the debate about the complex symmetry of the binary’s components. Continue reading »

Iran Modern? Sure, What About It?: A Conversation about the Curation and Preservation of Memory, Modernity and Nationalism

Curating Iranian art, an indistinguishable discourse from the overall knowledge production about target societies, becomes an occasion to debate the ramifications of global/local binary anew as a form of philosophical concern as an existentially entangled with geopolitical history and aesthetic heritage. Can a diasporic conceptualization of local existence be salvaged through its global pursuit of truth without having to resort to ready-made methodological channels of identity, culture, and history? Continue reading »

Inclusion and Representation in Comic Books: A Pakistani-American Teenage Hero

Ms. Marvel’s latest comic featuring Kamala Khan raises important questions about issues of identity among second generation Pakistani-Americans. Values, tradition, and skin color are all relevant topics of discussion in the comic, which presents its hero as utterly normal and American. This article analyzes the importance of representation for Pakistani-Americans, whose presence and history has thus far been largely excluded from the American narrative. Continue reading »

Auctioning History: Ancient Artefacts, Greco-Persian Labels and Mediterranean Identities Beyond ‘East’ and ‘West’

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 »

Filming America 1979: Iranian-American Memories of the Year Our Lives Turned Upside Down

For those of us who did not experience the trauma of 1979 and the years that followed, our parents’ memories and stories have been largely inaccessible to us. The era’s legacy is primarily one of silence; Iranian-Americans have largely ignored their personal traumas and tried to move on with their lives, throwing themselves completely into the American dream and struggling to put the years of alienation behind them. Lila Yomtoob is an Iranian-American filmmaker whose latest project is entitled America 1979 and explores the experiences of an American family of Iranian heritage during the Iran Hostage Crisis. Continue reading »

Ask Iran: Independent Cartoons and Graphic Novels Highlight A Nation Beyond Stereotypes

By showcasing Iran’s culture, history, and supposed ‘personality,’ Ask Iran is adding to the conversation by giving the Iranian people a voice needed during a time when sanctions are exacting a heavy price on Iranians and there is an ever-present fear of war. Her discourse is an extremely important contribution to the dialogue on Iran in the face of ‘othering,’ which is in line with Orientalist stereotypes of the Iranian people as being angry, backwards, and terrorists. Continue reading »

Pahlavi Iran and Zionism: An Intellectual Elite’s Short-Lived Love Affair with the State of Israel

The relationship between Israel and Iran dates back to the early years of the State of Israel. Insofar as Pahlavi Iran is concerned, even oppositional circles in the 1960s and 1970s had a complex and sometimes favorable approach to the State of Israel, including prominent thinkers like Jalal Al-e Ahmad, the author of “Westoxification.” This perception would change definitively for the negative after the 1967 war. Continue reading »