Landmarks, Heritage, and Sites of Remembrance: The Armenian Churches of Iranian Azerbaijan

As UNESCO World Heritage sites, the Armenian Monastic Ensembles of Iran act as a celebration of the past, but not an examination of it. One may ask: where are the Armenians who lived here, if only their buildings remain? As landmarks are indoctrinated into the cult of heritage, we are able to consecrate something that speaks to cosmopolitanism without actually having to live it, or ask the question why the past no longer resembles the present.
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Set in Stone: Constructing Identity and Cosmopolitanism in Georgia

The preservation and restoration of religious buildings become implicated in complex and polemical questions of Georgian nationhood, citizenship, identity, and belonging. The production of a neoliberal notion of cosmopolitanism based on tolerance and celebration of different ethno-religious groups within national borders, enshrined in the preservation of religious buildings, is part and parcel of this re-branding campaign. The presentation of a public space that celebrates diversity does not however necessarily translate to lived reality where difference just is.
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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.
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Neda Maghbouleh on “The Limits of Whiteness, Iranian-Americans and the Everyday Politics of Race”

Ajam’s first podcast features Dr. Neda Maghbouleh, author of The Limits of Whiteness: Iranian-Americans and the Everyday Politics of Race. Her research examines the production of racial categories and identities through macro-level policy and micro-level interaction, with a special emphasis on Iranians and other “liminal whites” in North America.
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Çanakkale Belongs to the People: Reclaiming and Reusing Urban Heritage in 21st-Century Turkey

Turkey may be perceived, both by outside observers and by Turks, to be an authoritarian democracy fueled by a construction boom. This is not entirely unfair, but this particular city of 116,000 on the Dardanelles is either the exception that proves the rule or a new way forward, as its citizens struggle and more often than not succeed to keep their city unique.
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Ajam Mixtape #7: Diaspora Pop Classics

In the 1980s, new Iranian musicians in the United States joined communities of other diaspora performers from Greece, Armenia, and the Arab World. In cities like New York and Los Angeles, these communities not only lived side-by-side but built upon the shared foundations between their cultures. Just as Middle Eastern markets in Los Angeles typically have bargain bins of CDs and tapes with music from across the region, instrumentalists from different countries often performed alongside each other.
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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.
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Ajam Mixtape #6: Folk and Avant-Garde

Our mix this month presents a seemingly unorthodox combination: avant-garde and folk music from Iran and the region. The goal with this month’s podcast was to continue presenting samples of Iran’s many musical traditions in a multitude of forms to show the variety and ongoing development of Iran’s diverse folk music traditions. (Photo Credit: Shahrokh Dabiri)
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