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2022-2023 Colloquium Series

The Tourism Studies Working Group is pleased to present

Isfahan: A Narrative of Continuity in Rupture Moments of a Revolution

Elham Zadeh, PhD Candidate
Social Anthropology, York University, Toronto

Friday, January 27, 4PM-6PM PST

Hybrid Presentation
In Person: Gifford Room, 221 Anthropology and Art Practice Bldg.
University of California, Berkeley

Also hosted on Zoom: join here
*no password needed

My project examines the ways in which multiple conceptions of ‘Iranianness’ is brought to life through generative labor, discursive acts, and material forms in the city of Isfahan, a historic city known as one of the main tourist destinations in Iran.

In the context of a hegemonic modern, post-Revolutionary Iranian nation-building project whose culture, arguably, emphasizes Twelver Shi’a Islam, the Persian language, and an antipathy toward the West that has resulted in a type of bounded nationalism, I will ask how and to what extent conformist or alternative formulations of Iranian identities are emerging in the city of Isfahan?

In this presentation, I review discursive shifts in the narrative of nationalism and how Isfahan serve these discourses, embodies them, and in some episodes became a generative producer of alternative identities. My focus is on discursive shifts following the 1979 Revolution that last for a few years until diplomatic necessities during the Iran-Iraq war brought Pahlavi’s discourse back onto the stage and once again make Isfahan the subject of tourist consumption.

I am a Ph.D. candidate in social anthropology at York University in Toronto and a visiting scholar on department of Gender and Women’s Studies at UC Berkeley. My research interest focusses on the intersection of materiality, affect, and belonging. I am interrogating how art and material culture are incorporated in processes of subject making in contemporary Isfahan, Iran. I apply a post-colonial and feminist approach in my research to examine how multiple conception of ‘Iranianness’ is lived out in the historical site of Naqsh-e Jahan Square.

Over the last ten years, I have collaborated with different NGOs in Iran as a freelance researcher to write and record the oral history of volunteers and social entrepreneurs.

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