Despite the Zoroastrian community’s waning numbers, the urban fabric of Mumbai’s older neighborhoods remain dominated by symbols and reminders of the Parsi and Irani communities’ success in the Subcontinent.
Since the Revolution, Iranian urban fabric has been reshaped to both reflect and produce ideals of modern Islamic citizenship as understood by various political actors including the central government, the municipality, and other authorities. Tehran has been marked by a wholesale reconstitution and realignment of the public space along a gender binary model, such that many public institutions are segregated in some way and the morality police regulate spaces that lack a physical architecture of gender dichotomization.
Just south of Jaffa is the shrine of Nabi Reuben, once the site of a boisterous Palestinian religious festival that combined the Christian and Muslim, the spiritual and the profane. Today, the shrine sits amid the sand dunes, a reminder of a pre-Zionist cosmopolitanism forcibly uprooted from the land.
I am Nasrine is the tale of two Iranian siblings who migrate to England and find a world of rampant discrimination that looks little like what they expected. The tragedy of the film is not one that can be easily limited to English housing estates or the plight of Iranian emigres. Indeed, this tale of migrant survival and struggle is far more universal, a searing indictment of the limits of liberalism and the failure of international and local humanitarian bureaucracies — as well as receiving societies as a whole — to effectively understand migrants as complex human beings.
The material success that many Iranians have enjoyed in this country has obscured their connections with other discriminated groups, and instead fostered an attitude of “lay low, don’t make trouble,” that idealizes financial success as the key to realizing the American Dream. Despite the racial discrimination Iranians regularly face as a community in the United States, many continue to insist upon their own Whiteness, refusing to even consider the question, “Are Iranians People of Color?”
The gender politics of the Islamic Republic look nothing like those of the Pahlavi regime, and they look nothing like what most outside observers or Iranians would have predicted back in 1979. How did all this happen? A list of key books to help answer that question, tackling the issue of gender politics in the Islamic Republic through the questions of gender, sex, and sexuality so central to understanding modern Iran.
Humans of Tehran offers a well-needed corrective to the clashes of stereotypical images that constitutes so much of Western reporting on Iran. Founded in 2011, the Humans of Tehran project consists of street photography from across the Iranian capital that gives a refreshingly candid look at modern Iranian society. The photographs neither bask in contradiction nor attempt to present a uniform face, but instead reflect the group’s simple, elegant premise: to photograph Iranians as they live their daily lives.
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.
Iranian-American reflections on the meaning of Nowruz, 10 years after the invasion of Iraq. May we all be inspired this year again by the rebirth and resilience of nature and of love that Nowruz signifies, and may we be reminded of the need to live freely, honorably, and bravely as the ongoing Iraqi struggle for liberation inspires us to do.
This winter has been a particularly rough one in Tehran. For the third year in a row, air pollution has frequently reached highly unhealthy levels, and schools and other public…