Picturing the Other: Race and Afro-Iranians in Documentary Photography

These types of documentary ventures, both filmic and photographic, identify a racialized community as their subject, visibly recognizable by their visual characteristics. Despite this clear reliance on race, there is rarely much attention given to the issue of race itself. Instead, most tend to emphasize successful assimilation predicated on nationalist sentiments and champion the diversity of these communities. By ignoring race and its relationship to photography, we overlook crucial elements that have structured similar stories in the past.
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Farzin Vejdani on “Making History in Iran: Education, Nationalism, and Print Culture”

The latest in our Emerging Scholarship series, we spoke with Dr. Farzin Vejdani about history and history-making in Iran during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Dr. Vejdani describes the changing nature of Iranian historiography from court histories to national ones, while also elucidating the roles women and foreigners had in Iranian history-making. Dr. Vejdani is an Assistant Professor of History at Ryerson University in Toronto.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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