Through Bashu’s attempts to assimilate into a village where his dark skinned features and Khuzestani Arabic denotes his displacement, Beizai’s film prompts criticisms of ethnocentric Persian nationalism and questions the experience of blackness in Iran, while neatly underscoring the tension between nationalism and gender.
The Paykan, like many of its drivers, has survived the tumult of revolution, war, reconstruction, and economic crises. The resilience of the Paykan mirrors that of 20th and 21st Century Iran, which can explain why it still endures not only as functional car, but also as a symbol of collective experiences and an object of nostalgia.
Focusing on the city of Shiraz, Setrag Manoukian’s City of Knowledge examines why it has emerged as a place so saturated with national significance, the techniques used to achieve this, and just how fraught this process continues to be.
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.
By showcasing Iran’s culture, history, and supposed ‘personality,’ Ask Iran is adding to the conversation by giving the Iranian people a voice needed during a time when sanctions are exacting a heavy price on Iranians and there is an ever-present fear of war. Her discourse is an extremely important contribution to the dialogue on Iran in the face of ‘othering,’ which is in line with Orientalist stereotypes of the Iranian people as being angry, backwards, and terrorists.
Iran is a multi-ethnic country that is home to a diversity of languages, ethnic groups, and religions. So why do people think its a “Persian” country? The roots of this misconception lie in an ideology called Aryanism promoted by the Pahlavi Dynasty to homogenize the country.