Using materials from the Ajam Digital Archive, Narges Bajoghli recounts the experiences of Iran-Iraq War veterans who spent endless days during their youth fighting in close combat in dark and bloody trenches.
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.
During the 1980s, the uncanny nature of “culture” emerged as the focus of much debate in the social sciences. The consensus today is that “culture” is not a coherent and timeless thing that is always bound to a certain place. It is contested, and though it can materialize in things and actions it always exceeds them as well. Academics today prefer to focus on the politics of “culture”: the claims that it is invoked to make, and by whom.
Oil is a contradictory experience to those who live in its spaces of extraction and refinement, as the modernity, cosmopolitanism, and progress it symbolizes can be fleeting. This piece is the third part in a series exploring how the southwestern city of Abadan is imagined in Iran today.
Since the Revolution, Iranian urban fabric has been reshaped to both reflect and produce ideals of modern Islamic citizenship as understood by various political actors including the central government, the municipality, and other authorities. Tehran has been marked by a wholesale reconstitution and realignment of the public space along a gender binary model, such that many public institutions are segregated in some way and the morality police regulate spaces that lack a physical architecture of gender dichotomization.
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.
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.