Constructing Sacred Space: An Architectural History of Mashhad’s Imam Reza Shrine

Like the city itself, the Imam Reza shrine complex grew gradually over time as political elites tried to establish their legitimacy. Rulers strove not only to appease the local religious establishment by funding elaborate building projects around the site, but also hoped to create physical testaments to their political authority. Due to the inherent political nature of these structures, the site was destroyed and subsequently rebuilt as it changed hands from dynasty to dynasty.
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Between Arab and Ajam: Travels Across the Borderlands of Iranian Khuzestan, Part 2

How could cultures not mix? Walking and cabbing through Ahvaz, I could not help but feel like I left Iran and had entered the kind of place people envision when they think of the predominantly Arab states of the southern Persian Gulf; complete with men wearing Arabic dishdasha (white robes) and families eating at roadside falafel stands. Even listening closely while walking in the streets, you hear Arabs and Persians conversing, living, and working alongside of each other.
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Zoroastrian Pilgrimages and Muslim Saints: Tracing Modern Iranian Shi’ism at the Shrine of Chak Chak

Chak Chak Shrine
Reciting the history-mythology surrounding the figure of Shahrbanu and her role in the dissemination of Islam to Iranians is a significant method of (re)producing a seamless continuity between the lineage of the Prophet Muhammad and Iran’s pre-Islamic and Zoroastrian culture. In this sense, the validity of the historic objective “truth” of these stories seems to be far less important than the cultural import that these stories convey to us about the nation’s sense of itself.
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The Poster Arts of May Day: International Worker’s Day in Revolutionary Iran

During the Iranian Revolution, International Worker’s Day became an ideological battleground as competing political organizations— secular and religious— organized their constituents and articulated their interpretation of worker’s solidarity. Visual ephemera related to May Day, such as posters, are testaments to the pluralistic nature of the early years of the Revolution. By looking at various posters disseminated by organizations of the time, one can see how various political factions used similar visual motifs and iconography.
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