Ajam Media Collective recently worked with THE STATE, a Dubai-based publishing practice, to make a ‘zine. We provided the words and art while they provided the design to make a wonderful collaborative document. We are also publishing the work on our site, beginning with this introduction.
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.
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.
Ajam’s latest podcast, this time featuring shared songs across from Southwest Asia. With samplings from Persian, Greek, Turkish, Arab and other language groups, this mixtape emphasizes the kinds of oft-forgotten transnational connections that exist in music.
Never having visited the Republic of Bangladesh, my reflections are probably missing a certain something. Nevertheless I began to ask about the suburb’s unofficial name. “Why is it called Bangladesh?” mimicked a colleague, incredulous. “Because it’s hot, poor, far away, and nobody knows much about it.”
The post-Soviet art of Central Asia and the Caucasus comes out of a Soviet-era conversation of artistic styles that looks not just to Moscow but also to Mecca. An understanding of the high and low registers of this Soviet cultural heritage allows the humor and self-confidence of the work to be appreciated — aesthetically as well as financially — by audiences.
Since gaining independence, Yerevan has been subjected to a complex process of postcolonial nation-building while simultaneously adopting globalized urbanization trends. Similar to many other gentrifying cities, demolition and displacement are becoming more and more a common practice. New multinational construction projects are presented and justified as acts of nation-building while the low income majority is expected by the emerging elite to make sacrifices for the benefit of the nation as a whole.
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 controversy along the way. Check out our ten most-viewed articles from 2013.
Yura Movsisyan came to the United States as a refugee from violence in his formerly-cosmopolitan, formerly Soviet, hometown of Baku. Now one of the best young soccer players in the world, he has become a national treasure for Armenians and for Americans. As a Hometown Hero for a worldwide diaspora community, Movsisyan has become a unique young man who is the symbol of a new 21st century Armenianness.
This piece was originally published on The Tuqay before it became part of Ajam Media Collective. In December 2011, the Georgian president announced—to widespread surprise—the construction of a new city…