This article aims to analyse the evolution of âshurâ Shi’ite rituals in an Iranian village, in light of the socio-economic transformations of the last thirty years. Studying these rites as a fait social total, we show that they reflect many aspects of local life. Thus, the increasing dependence of the village on the urban regional centre, the reorganisation of the ties between neighbouring but antagonistic localities, the decreasing status of the great landowners and the increasing social homogenisation, the development of rural exodus and recent national history (the Iran-Iraq war, the establishment of the Islamic Republic and the development of religious reformism) – all have had an influence on the organisation of âshurâ ceremonies. The many functions of this ritual appear then more clearly, manifesting the manner of regional integration, reaffirming internal hierarchies and communal identity, and showing the ever-increasing dependence on the urban world.
Révélateur privilégié d'un monde rural en mutation
An African-Iranian Healing Dance Ritual
William O. Beeman
This article explores the structure and meaning of the Zār ceremony as carried out throughout the Persian Gulf. This ceremony is mirrored by similar ones throughout North and East Africa, suggesting that the Zār may have resulted from cultural diffusion along historical trade routes. The Zār practitioners, the bābā and the māmā, must cultivate extensive skills in musical performance, movement and coordination in order to affect a palliative relief for persons affected by spirit ‘winds’ that inhabit them, causing physical and emotional distress. The Zār ceremony is an important method of non-allopathic treatment for emotional disorders that might elsewhere be treated through psychiatry in clinical settings. Practitioners see it as compatible with Islam, though not a strictly Islamic practice.
Interventions into, and the Tenacity of, Romantic Travel Writing in Southwest Persia
This article concerns the written life of Dr Elizabeth Ness Macbean Ross (1878–1915). Ross's posthumously published memoir about this time, A Lady Doctor in Bakhtiari Land (1921), challenges the masculine, monomythic stance of her travel-writing forebears Sir Henry Layard and Sir Richard Burton and anticipates contemporary texts in which the encounter between “traveling“ self and “native” other destabilizes, rather than reaffirms, the traveler's sense of identity and authority. The article also briefly examines a set of stories the Times ran on Dr Ross, which attempted to appropriate her for a dominant narrative of the Middle East reliant on a languid orientalism, on the one hand, and tales of derring-do, on the other; a narrative which persists to the present day, and which the forgotten A Lady Doctor in Bakhtiari Land works hard to resist.
Popular Religious Practices and Perceptions in the Middle East and Central Asia
Mary Elaine Hegland
People at the popular level often hold religious perceptions and engage in religious practices that make sense to them within their own existential situations, even if they fall outside orthodoxy. Although political leaders and religious authorities may attempt to mould people’s religious perceptions and practices according to their own ideas and interpretations of religion, people frequently find ways to evade or ignore such pressures, to rationalise their deviations or to continue to live and think according to their own self-generated religious frameworks. The authors of the articles in this special issue provide examples of how people’s actual practices and religious beliefs arise out of their own personal situations and histories though at odds with the pronouncements of religious specialists.
Lalita Pandit Hogan
This article discusses filmic emotion by focusing on how the dominant color (blue in Gabbeh and Meenaxi; red in Mirch Masala) is used to elicit emotion. Through alienation effect, the viewer is distanced from the aims and goals of characters, and is less likely to experience the sorts of emotions that result from identification. The first two films use multiple frames of narration leading to character(s) in the outer frame becoming like spectators, invested in, for instance, fortune of others emotions that are central to the enjoyment of movies. In Mirch Masala, narration focuses on class struggle; there is minimal engagement with characters' individual aims, goals, and desires. While the red film foregrounds social anger, the blue films foreground consciousness. The three films together ask questions about what makes war and what makes peace, and how human action and human consciousness, represented through colors, figures in all this.
Babak Rezvani, Sophie Accolas, Mary Elaine Hegland and Clemence Scalbert Yucel
Steppe Magazine: A Central Asian Panorama (Nettlebed, Oxfordshire: Steppe International), £10/$20.
Omidvari, Mohammad Mehdi (2006), La plainte des bateaux enchaînés, Iran, vidéo, couleur, 38 minutes.
‘Kinship in Iran and Neighbouring Countries’, 20–22 June 2008, Tehran, Iran
Mary Elaine Hegland
Zahra Tizro, Domestic Violence in Iran: Women, Marriage and Islam (New York: Routledge, 2012)
Films and Conferences
Soheila Shahshahani and Mary Elaine Hegland
First Film Exhibition of Tehran’s Quarters, 30 October–2 November 2006.
Sixth Biennial of Iranian Studies Conference, 3–5 August 2006, London, U.K.
Rhinoplasty and Identity in Tehran
Tehran currently hosts one of the largest rhinoplasty markets in the world, and rhinoplasty is the most sought after cosmetic surgery in the country. This article examines whether the rhinoplasty trend reflects a shift in Iranians' attitudes towards their ethnic and cultural identity. It is argued that fashion and beauty norms in Tehran are certainly informed by globalised images, but these are mediated by Iranian moralities of prestige, image consciousness and class awareness. Thus, while many of the persons interviewed described 'Iranian noses' as aesthetically inferior to 'European noses', their statements were not necessarily coupled with a desire to negate Iranian identity.
Kamyar Abdi, Sophie Accolas and Rémi Berthon
Berman, Ilan (2005), Tehran Rising: Iran’s Challenge to the United States (Lanham, MD: Rowan & Littlefield). xx + 218 pp. ISBN 0-7425-4904-6. $24.95.
Friedmann, Daniel (2005), Que sont les immigrants devenus ? France, vidéo couleur, 49 minutes, CNRS Images.
‘Anthropozoology and Archaeozoology in the Ancient World’, 9th ASWA International Conference, 16–20 November 2008, Al-’Ain, United Arab Emirates