When Iran’s Abadan was Capital of the World

There was a time when the southwestern Iranian city of Abadan drew in immigrants from all over the world, and when its place as an oil city and harbinger of modernity seemed unmatched in the region. Today these memories often obscure the price paid for the construction of this cosmopolitan entrepôt. This piece is the second part in a series exploring how Abadan is imagined in Iran today.
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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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Curtains of Iron or Curtains of Silk? Soviet Artwork in Conversation with West and South Asia

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.
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The King Hasn’t Left The Building: An Oral History of an Afghan Musical Icon, Ahmad Zahir

Ahmad Zahir, the major Afghan pop singer of the 1970s, died mysteriously in 1979, a year of upheaval and turmoil in Afghanistan’s political history. Since then, many Afghans, in diaspora and in Afghanistan, maintain a special relationship with Ahmad Zahir and his music. This article explores the memory of one family in using Ahmad Zahir as a way to connect to their homeland.
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Accelerating Beyond “Iran”? An Interview with Mohammad Salemy on Telecomputation, Digital Production, and Diaspora

While the theoretical problem of the local and global has been long exhausted by the globalization of Iranian cultural capital, the radical treatment of this binary in Mohammad Salemy’s curatorial practice through his engagement with Reza Negarestani’s brand of universal and rationalist philosophy is reenergizing the debate about the complex symmetry of the binary’s components.
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Inclusion and Representation in Comic Books: A Pakistani-American Teenage Hero

Ms. Marvel’s latest comic featuring Kamala Khan raises important questions about issues of identity among second generation Pakistani-Americans. Values, tradition, and skin color are all relevant topics of discussion in the comic, which presents its hero as utterly normal and American. This article analyzes the importance of representation for Pakistani-Americans, whose presence and history has thus far been largely excluded from the American narrative.
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From Tehran to Newcastle: “I Am Nasrine” and the Politics of Telling Migrant Narratives

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.
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Whose Anatolia? Mapping Complexities and Shared Histories Between Kurds, Armenians, and Turks

There are mountains and there are roads. From an airplane, Eastern Anatolia looks like Frankenstein’s monster as the craggy mountains of the Zargos, Tarsus, and Caucasus ranges collide with geologic logic, sutured together by some of the finest roadways in the world. The modern republics facing this jagged jumble are as powerful as that monster, but perhaps also as hollow.
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