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Entanglements with the ‘Sea’

Persian Poetry and Diasporic Iranian Literature in Australia

Nasim Yazdani and Michele Lobo

Abstract

Displacement following the Iranian Revolution in 1979, and later political instability in the Middle East, has led to the increase of Iranian migrants to Australia and beyond, many of whom live in exile and can never return. This article explores how Iranian conceptualisations of the sea provide a framework for entanglements with nature and the environment that are poetic and turbulent, and provides insights into nostalgia and belonging. It explores some entanglements with the ‘sea’ in the work of classical and contemporary Persian poets, diasporic Iranian women's literature, artwork and memories of newcomers of Iranian heritage who seek asylum in Australia. The article also highlights the connections between poet and world through investigating the role of the geographical realm and nostalgia in producing the worlds of human relations and thoughts with the place.

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Environmental Configurations

When the River Zayandeh Rud Stopped Crossing Isfahan

Sahar Faeghi and Sophie Roche

Abstract

Among the many consequences of Iran's suffering from water shortage in recent decades, the major river of Isfahan city, Zayandeh Rud, has dried out. While experts observe this issue through environmental discourses and local farmers engage in political protests, citizens phrase the loss of the river as a cultural catastrophe. Within the environmental configuration that includes the river, historical buildings, parks, fauna, flora and humans, habitual relationships produce a sense of security and well-being. Since the drought, this configuration has been seriously affected. We suggest the drought is experienced as sociocultural disaster because Zayandeh Rud is a central element for the creation of social, cultural, economic and political relationships. Following the suggestion of Tim Ingold, we conceptualise the environment as the interplay between the German notion of Umwelt (out world) and Innenwelt (subjective world).

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Home Away from Home

Ethnography of an EU Erasmus+ Project

Terry Lamb and Danila Mayer

Abstract

Researchers participating in the development and training week of one of the European Union's Erasmus+ projects come forwards in this contribution and share their insights. Youth engaged in integration of refugees, migrants and asylum seekers were to be trained, their approaches made visible and their networking strengthened in a two-year project that included a seven-days get-together in Croatia. Further activities included ample desk research of relevant initiatives, dissemination conferences in the participating countries (England, Belgium, Germany, Austria, and Croatia), a research report, and a collection of training modules. A definite goal was to address and to counter rising tensions in EU countries regarding refugee and migration movements.

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Introduction

Ecology and Migration in the Middle East

Soheila Shahshahani

Abstract

In this special issue, not only is the human-environment relationship addressed with a few types of environmental adaptations in rural and urban contexts, including governmental measures and disaster situations, but also the process of culture making is explored through the use of vocabularies in forming mind sets. In this way, a wide spectrum of ideas and situations is portrayed, and the role of culture in making these processes meaningful is shown. The articles in this issue concern Egypt, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and they also consider migration. While environmental problems are partial causes for migration, yet symbolic reference to parts of that same environment can symbolise the lost land. The role of poetic language is seen here, while poetry itself becomes a means of better adaptation for a migrant.

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Manly Merchants

Commerce, Mobility and Masculinity among Afghan Traders in Eurasia

Magnus Marsden

Abstract

This article explores intersections between masculinity, mobility, generation and commerce through the everyday lives of Afghan men who make up trading networks that are active across Eurasia. It is based on ethnographic fieldwork among Afghan traders in Ukraine's port city of Odessa and in the international trading city of Yiwu in China. Building on recent work in anthropology concerning the ‘emergent’ nature of Middle Eastern masculinities, the article brings attention to the flexible and adaptable nature of the notions of masculinity held and performed by mobile Afghan traders. It emphasises the need for such conceptions of masculinity to be treated historically and draws attention to the forms of caregiving that are especially important to the traders’ intimate lives and self-understandings. The article also highlights the significance of complex notions of trust both to the traders’ articulation of conceptions of manliness and to their everyday modes of securing a livelihood.

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Migration and Redefining Self

Negotiating Religious Identity among Hazara Women in Germany

Saideh Saidi

Abstract

This article explores how Afghan (Hazara) women negotiate and sift their religious understandings and identities over time after migrating to Germany. Migration experiences and exposure to German society has impacted their self-narration and conceptualisation of cultural change in their own identity. This ethnographic research illustrates the notion of acceptance or rejection to change among Hazara immigrant women in their lived religion in diaspora. Based on my fieldwork, three different trajectories along religious lines occur in the Afghan diaspora: a group of immigrants, enhancing Islamic values, whose relationship to and involvement in religion intensified and increased; the second group largely consider themselves secular Muslims trying to fully indulge into the new society; the third group has an elastic religious identity, blending Islamic values with Western-inspired lifestyles.

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Reports

Publications and Conferences

Joel W. Abdelmoez, Lucia Volk, and Marcia C. Inhorn

Publications

Korangy, A., Al-Samman, H. and Beard, M. (eds), The Beloved in Middle Eastern Literatures: The Culture of Love and Languishing (London: I.B. Tauris, 2018).

Conferences

‘(Un)Settling Middle Eastern Refugees’ (Yale University, September 2019)

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Rooftop Recipes for Relating

Ecologies of Humans, Animals and Life

Noha Fikry

Abstract

The article explores the particularly lively rooftops of Cairo through which interspecies intimacies unfold. On these rooftops, various animals (such as chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, goats and rabbits) are raised to be later eaten and consumed for sustenance. I expose the various patterned modalities, terms and codes bringing these different species together in their sustained long-term relationships. I follow these interspecies relations as they narrate wonders of life and death, collaborations, various instantiations of home, social gift exchanges, marital rituals and grieving patterns. Rooftop recipes for relating slowly cook these human-non-human relations as uniquely embedded in a socioecological intricate awareness of surrounding environments of neighbours and families, but also of trees, waste, changing seasons, aging species and growing parents.

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Between Conflicting Systems

An Ordinary Tragedy in Now-Capitalist Albania

Matthew Rosen

Abstract

‘Business as usual’ in contemporary Albania takes place between different and conflicting systems of meaning and value. Drawing from ethnographic material collected in Tirana, Albania, this article examines the complexities of social and economic life in a city where distinct moral economies routinely clash with the capitalist principle of profit. Starting from the ethnographic impulse to learn how two local booksellers made sense of the contradictory systems of meaning operating in their everyday lives, the analysis shows how a grinding of discordant value systems produced the more general paradox of an ‘ordinary tragedy’.

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Liesa Rühlmann and Sarah McMonagle

Abstract

This article highlights issues of Othering and linguicism and identifies the challenges of undoing taboos of race and racism in popular and academic discourses in Germany. We discuss the prospect of introducing critical race theory to expose these issues that we see as especially urgent, as Germany remains host to very large numbers of international migrants. A monolingual and monocultural idea of Germany does not befit this country of immigration in the twenty-first century.