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Weaving History: Ziegler Co. and the Making of Iran’s Carpet Industry

Carpet manufacturing during the Qajar period was dominated by the establishment of multinational corporations who invested heavily in the production of Persian carpets. The management method used by these companies inside developing countries was based on exploitation. These companies encouraged the carpet manufactures to weave inexpensive carpets of low quality and cheap coloration due to the use of chemically-unstable ink colors, which were suitable for European and American markets. These corporations encouraged economic profitability over quality. Continue reading »

Rewriting Hafez: Re-theorizing Untranslatability in Persian Poetry

Translation can be characterized as an interplay between literary traditions, a process that illuminates the difference in approaches to and articulation of poeticity. Consequently, linguistic and cultural challenges arise that need to be addressed by the translator regardless of his or her approach to translation. The Persian literary tradition presents unique challenges that are particularly well-revealed in the ghazaliyyāt of Hafez of Shiraz, a poet who is widely read in Persianate societies. Poets and scholars alike have expressed the difficulty of translating Hafez. Continue reading »

Armenia’s Bangladesh: Portrait of a Yerevan Suburb

Never having visited the Republic of Bangladesh, my reflections are probably missing a certain something. Nevertheless I began to ask about the suburb’s unofficial name. “Why is it called Bangladesh?” mimicked a colleague, incredulous. “Because it’s hot, poor, far away, and nobody knows much about it.” Continue reading »

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 »

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