A Year in Ajam: Revisiting Our Best Articles of 2013

In celebration of the end of 2013 and the beginning of Ajam Media Collective’s third year, we offer you a list of the top 10 articles on our site published over the past year.

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 conversation along the way.

In accordance with Ajam Media Collective’s beloved critical discourse, two of our top articles reconsidered the histories of the Cyrus Cylinder and the Shahnameh — two major symbols of Persian nationalism — and their appropriation by political figures.

At the same time, we embraced a wider definition of Ajamistan than we had before, considering conflicting imaginaries of Dubai cosmopolitanism and examining the politics of language in Pakistani hip hop.

We moved away from rigid categories and re-contextualized narrow genres in global perspectives, looking at calli-graffiti, musical diasporas, and even cowboy Westerns. We also collaborated with Slavs and Tatars in an examination of transnational exchanges across borders through revolutionary art.

Our ability to cover such broad topics is largely due to Ajam’s own expansion. With four new regional editors, we produced more quality content on wider geographic terrain, from the Caucasus to the Persian Gulf to the Subcontinent.

Race politics were a major topic in our top 10 articles, as we examined the role of race and ethnicity in producing local musics within Iran as well as how the Iranian diaspora has negotiated the complexities of race hierarchy in the United States.

Check out this list of our most-read stories of 2013, and stay tuned for another great year ahead:

1. Queer and Trans Subjects in Iranian Cinema: Between Representation, Agency, and Orientalist Fantasies

Rana and Eddy share a meal and their dreams on the road in Facing Mirrors


2. Word As Image: Contextualizing “Calligraffiti: 1984-2013″ with French-Tunisian Street Artist eL Seed

eL Seed posing with his two featured works. Photo by Shima Houshyar


3. Picturing the Iranian Everyday: An Interview with the Photographers Behind “Humans of Tehran”


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

Calligraphy on the exterior of Ferdowsi’s mausoleum. Photo by Preethi Nallu. 


5. Are Iranians People of ColorPersian, Muslim, and Model Minority Race Politics

Anti-Iranian student protest in Washington D.C., 1979 (Marion S. Trikosko / Library of Congress)


6. “This Place Should Have Been Iran”: Iranian Imaginings in/of Dubai

Dubai Starbucks. Photo by Behzad Sarmad


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

Drawings of Iran from the “Ask Iran” website


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

The Cyrus Cylinder on display


9. Music and Race Politics in the Iranian Persian Gulf: Shanbehzadeh and “Bandari”

Shanbehzadeh Ensemble


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

Learning Hebrew and Persian alongside eachother at school in Tehran, 1970.


We’re excited to continue Ajamming with you all in 2014. Thanks for all the support, and be sure to keep up with us in the new year!



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