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Elisabeth Yarbakhsh

Derrida’s hostipitalité formulation provides a framework through which we might begin to explore the relationship between Iranian citizen-hosts and Afghan refugee-guests in the city of Shiraz and the surrounding province. Notions of Iranian hospitality thread through multiple and diverse constructions of Iranian selfhood. Religion, poetry and history speak to what it means to be Iranian, marking out categories of Self and Other and, in doing so, exposing the limits of hospitality in the very spaces that the nation is most acutely felt.

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Paradoxes of transnational space and local activism

Iranians organizing across borders

Halleh Ghorashi and Nayereh Tavakoli

The Iranian revolution of 1979 promised to bring freedom and equality, but as soon as one group gained power, it turned out to be oppressive of both its political opposition and women. This resulted in the formation of a large Iranian diaspora bound together by its hatred for the Iranian regime. Years of suppression in the 1980s in Iran resulted in a deep gap between Iranians living inside and outside Iran. During the 1990s, however, cross-border relationships started to change as a result of two major factors: transnational activities and the influence of cyberspace. This paper focuses on the paradoxes of transnational connections in local protest with a focus on the women’s movement. We show both how transnational links have empowered women activists in Iran and how they have led to new dangers at the local level. We also reveal how support from the Iranian diaspora can be patronizing as well as supportive.

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Methods Applied

Political Transformation and Recent Ethnographic Fieldwork in Iran

Mary Elaine Hegland and Erika Friedl

In the 1970s social cultural anthropology in Iran was beginning to flourish. However, with the Iranian Revolution of 1979 and the subsequent Islamic Republic of Iran, fieldwork in Iran became extremely problematic. Foreign anthropologists faced formidable obstacles to obtaining visas and permits. Anthropologists working inside Iran were also discouraged from anthropological participant observation. As a result, during the post revolutionary period, few anthropologists have been conducting fieldwork in Iran. Recently, some hopeful signs for a possible reestablishment of anthropology can be noted, among them the return of young Iranian anthropologists, from countries where they have grown up and gained an education, to their homeland for dissertation research. This article discusses the influences on fieldwork of politics—international, national and local—and projects, problems and strategies of some anthropologists who have conducted recent ethnographic fieldwork in Iran.

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Agnes G. Loeffler

This article offers an analysis of two medical case histories presented by an Iranian allopathic physician to illustrate the power of diet in the management of disease. Uncovering underlying cultural assumptions about health and health maintenance strategies leads to the following insights: (1) Galenic medical ideas have not been replaced by allopathic theories in the world view of Iranian physicians; (2) allopathic medical treatment options (pharmaceuticals) are applied to indigenous disease categories; (3) there is deep-seated scepticism about etiologic theories of allopathic medicine and its ability to treat certain conditions; (4) the authority of allopathic medicine is not unquestioned in Iran.

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Erika Friedl and Reinhold Loeffler

This article is an ethnographic dissection of ideas pertaining to eschatology in a Shi’a Muslim tribal area in Iran that reveals the syncretistic possibilities in lived Islam, the generosity of the local culture regarding matters of religion, and individuals’ motivations for selecting certain possibilities to think about death and the afterlife. A common theme is for people to look at religious tenets as they pertain to this-worldly relations and can be approached with empirical experiences, all within the general frame of a regulated universe created by a merciful, understanding God. Research for this discussion stretched across 50 years in Iran.

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Satoshi Abe

In addressing mounting environmental problems in recent years, many Iranian environmentalists have increasingly adapted discourses and implemented programs that are modeled on scientific ecology. Does this mean the verbatim transfer of Western scientific modernity in Iran? My analyses suggest otherwise. This article explores the unique ways in which a burgeoning environmental awareness unfolds in Iranian contexts by investigating how conceptions of "nature" shape the environmentalists' discourses and practices. It appears that an ecological scientific conception of nature is becoming an important frame of reference among such environmentalists. However, another conception of nature-one framed in relation to Iranian nationhood-makes a key contribution to environmentalism in Iran. Drawing on fieldwork conducted in 2009-2011 in Tehran, this study demonstrates how "Iranian nature" is delineated and practiced through the environmentalists' (re)engagements with certain objects-maps, posters, and photographs-in relation to which local ways of conceptualizing nature are elaborated.

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Claiming Space

Documenting Second-generation Iranian Americans in Los Angeles

Amy Malek

In 2009–2010 I collaborated with four Iranian documentary photographers to document everyday lives of the second-generation Iranian-American community in Los Angeles (LA). This article offers an overview of that project and exhibition, along with a selection of images, and presents interview data that suggests several impacts of place and of representations of Iranians on second generation Iranian-American identity. Youth experiences of geopolitical, community and familial struggles have motivated many in this generation to re-mould the image of ‘LA Persians’ by claiming space in diaspora for themselves and their children, the growing third generation.

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Reinhold Loeffler

The case of a remote tribal village in southwest Iran demonstrates the circumstances conducive to positive rural development. My research suggests that since the founding of this village around 1880, its people - led by a progressive, literate young chief - successfully defended their realm against incorporation into the neighbouring chiefs' reigns of lawlessness and warfare; introduced and modernised irrigation agriculture and fruit cultivation then unique in the whole region; and embraced formal education. Discussing such adaptive strategies, I argue that a strong ethos of progress and achievement, including civic awareness, motivated local people from the beginning to pursue new ways to improve their livelihood.

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Facing the Future

The Artistic and Diasporic Afterlife of the Iran-Iraq War

Roxanne Varzi

How do the cultural and emotional after-effects of the Iran-Iraq War influence artistic production among Iranian artists living outside of Iran? How do Iranian diaspora self-portraits act as socio-political memoirs? This article addresses these questions by looking at some examples of diaspora artists who through their art somehow remain political 'subjects' of contemporary Iran, even as they grapple with the complexities of 'being away' - if that is ever really possible.

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Every Dog Has Its Day

New Patterns in Pet Keeping in Iran

Ahahita Grisoni and Marjan Mashkour

In the perspective of human–animal relationships, considered a social change marker, pet dogs in modern Iranian society constitute a form of acculturation that started under the former regime and perpetuates, if not intensifies, nowadays. At first glance, this acculturation form seems to be directly borrowed from Western patterns, but this article shows the peculiarities of the adaptation models to the Iranian context. This work, based on individual, semistructured interviews with dog owners aims to study the subjective representations of pet dogs and the acquisition and cohabitation material conditions with this animal, within the context of a changing contemporary Iranian society.