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Archive for August 7th, 2008

Arian Band. One of the most popular pop/rock bands in Iran.

The Arian Band. One of the most popular pop/rock bands in Iran. Scroll down to learn more about them and other contemporary musicians in Iran.

Hi Everyone!

I hope you have all had a very good weekend. It looks like Monday nights
is going to be a more likely night to send out the windows. Many thanks
for all your words of encouragement and for placing interested friends,
relatives, and colleagues on the list. This is a drop in the sea as we
say in Persian, but I am sure there is saying in every language to the
effect that every drop counts. So, here we go again, Window number 7 is
waiting for you.

Current Issues:

* How could there be any other current issue when Mr. Ahmadinejad is
visiting the U.S.? During such visits, Iranians usually hold their
breath for the next inflammatory remark he will make. If you are
among those who get really irritated — and I don’t blame you at
all — just remember that President Bush included Iran in “The
Axis of Evil” when President Khatami was in office and did his
best to start a “dialogue between civilizations.”  What the
American media carefully overlooks is that much of the world —
perhaps due to Mr. Ahmadinejad’s criticism of American foreign
policy — has shown him a fairly receptive attitude. 118 member
states of the Non-Aligned countries issued a statement in support
of Iranian nuclear technology at the end of their 14th summit last
week (September 18, 2006).

* Here is what Mr. Ahmadinejad said in a U.N. press conference
(September 21, 2006), answering the question “What can Iran do to
assure the international community that the country is not making
a nuclear bomb?” He responded:  “The IAEA has published many
reports. Numerous reports saying that they do not see any
violation of the treaty requirements of NPT by the Iranian
government. … I am at a loss, in understanding what else we need
to do, to provide guarantees. I have said to the dear gentleman
here. That there is no provision in the NPT that says. That we do
not have the right– that, perhaps it says– that we need the vote
or the confidence of the U.S. government to have peaceful nuclear
technology. There is no such provision. … Should Iran shut down
every technological development? In the biological field? And the
medical field? And the chemical field? Because, in any of these
fields, there’s a possibility of dual usage. Possibly a chemical
bomb. So when we speak of justice. We mean that everyone is equal.
When we act within the framework of international law and follow
the provisions of the NPT. … It’s very important to make these
nuclear facilities program a transparent one … there’s no need
to hide such development. …we’ve actually given information to
the IAEA. We’ve invited international world community to visit our
facilities. Now, we are told, by some, that, “You have to gain our
trust and confidence.” But we don’t have any criteria developed
for confidence-building, as such. It may take a hundred years or
more for you to gain confidence, in what we do. What are we
supposed to do given the context that in the past 27 years. You’ve
demonstrated so much hostility towards our nation. …” (Thank you
Amir Ali Companieh for forwarding the whole interview).

* Last week theatrical events at the U.N. were also interesting to
watch. Mr. Chavez (whose personal attack on Mr. Bush is – in my
opinion – unprofessional for a head of a state) received a
standing ovation. The American media showed little alarm at the
world’s anti-American sentiments and explained the support
for Chavez and for Ahmadinejad to be the result of these two
countries large oil reservoirs. This hypothesis is simplistic and
disrespectful of world opinion. And it can be tested. Next time
the Saudi Arabian representative speaks at the U.N., watch the
reception he gets. We need — in my opinion — to be concerned
with the fact that these two politicians (Chavez & Ahmadinejad)
get away with much simply because of their outspoken criticism of
U.S. foreign policy.

Science

* Fortunately, the Iranian President returned home, and we can now
attend to more interesting matters. A very young Iranian American
scientist Nima Arkani Hamed has been in the news lately (I heard
about him thanks to my friend Behfar Dianati). Nima Arkani Hamed,
currently a professor of physics at Harvard is a leading scientist
in particle physics and string theory.  For a short biography and
reference to his work click on:
http://www.anvari.org/iran/Famous_Iranians/Nima_Arkani-Hamed.html
(It looks like I should keep a regular section on Iranian
Americans).

Art/Culture

* How about a cookbook for a starter? I would recommend any cookbook
by Batmanglij, particularly Persian Cooking for a Healthy Kitchen

http://www.amazon.com/gp/explorer/0934211671/2/ref=pd_lpo_ase/102-6161793-5949765
Do scroll down and look at two other titles: New Food for Life and
— particularly if you are vegetarian like me — Silk Road
Cooking: A Vegetarian Journey by the same author. You will not be
disappointed.

* No, I am not resorting to cookbooks because I have run out of
subjects. Just trying to keep this exchange healthy and wholesome.
Since we are on a touristic subjects, let me tell you that Iran is
trying hard to tell the world that it is visitable. Beautiful
hotels are being built around the country. I have chosen one that
is not just beautiful but rather unusual. A traditional building
in a mountainous location in the North Eastern province of
Azerbaijan (close to the city of Tabriz) has been converted into a
hotel. Click here (Mountain Hotel–Tabriz) to see!

* The category we have not approached at all is Persian music.
Most people are not sure if musical activity has continued in
Iran after the ascendancy of the Islamic Republic in 1979.  Well,
attempts were made by extremist groups to curtail music and other
performing arts in the early 1980s. However, it did not get very
far. If anything, it made music a hot topic. Most music classes
keep long wait lists. Persian traditional music remains very
popular. I will at some point introduce you to some contemporary
master musicians of classical Persian music. In this window,
however, I would like to concentrate on the two kinds of music
that most of you would not expect to find in Iran. First, the
Iranian Symphony Orchestra is alive and well and performs
regularly. Last August, it performed in Germany (amid speculation
in the western media that the Islamic republic will not allow the
musicians to perform in the west):
<>http://www.payvand.com/news/06/aug/1331.html

* Even more surprising for non-Iranians is to hear about: modern
Iranian Rock and Pop bands. To read a report on that, click on:
http://www.flyglobalmusic.com/fly/archives/africamiddle_east_features/the_young_iran.html
be sure to scroll down to get to web addresses of individual
groups. Arian is among the most popular Iranian Pop groups and has
two women in the band. Last May, when I was in Iran, I saw at
least 8 or 9 CDs by them in music stores. Here is their web page.
Do click on English for more pictures: http://www.arianmusic.com/

Visual Delight

* And we will follow our tradition of visiting some contemporary
Iranian painters’ studios before closing Window number 7.  Here
are three delightful Iranian women painters and samples of their
works:

First, Nadimeh Abdollahi (b. 1980)
http://www.caroun.com/Painting/IranPainting/NadimehAbdollahi/NadimehAbdollahi.html

The second artist is Sahar Seyedi (b.1972)
http://www.caroun.com/Painting/IranPainting/SaharSeyedi/SaharSeyedi.html

And finally, Miranda Ansari (b. 1971)
http://www.caroun.com/Painting/IranPainting-01/MirandaAnsari/MirandaAnsari.html

I wish you all a very a good week.
========================
Fatemeh Keshavarz, Professor and Chair
Dept. of Asian and Near Eastern Languages and Literatuares
Washington University in St. Louis
Tel: (314) 935-5156
Fax: (314) 935-4399
========================

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Shah Cheragh in Shiraz, Iran (see below for a link to many more beautiful pictures of gardens and palaces in Shiraz).

Shah Cheragh in Shiraz, Iran (see below for a link to many more beautiful pictures of gardens and palaces in Shiraz).

Greetings to All!

Alright, I am a day late. It has been a very busy weekend. Now you know why, despite all your kind encouragement, I cannot turn this into a blog. There are simply not enough hours in the day! Anyway, here comes window number 6.

I continue to be delighted that you find these windows useful. A quick clarification. Some of you have suggested that I send out the Persian text when I attach a short poem such as the one by Farrokhzad which I sent out about two weeks ago. I have not done so because it can cause problems for those recipients who do not have the Persian software installed in their computer.

Again, please let me know if you have any missing windows. And now to our window number 6:

Current Issues:

* I wanted to start with a report related to Iran’s nuclear
technology, but something more current is the first item: reaction
to Pope’s comments. Yes, there were reactions in Iran. No, they
did not involve burning anything. Yesterday, a group of Iranian
students marched to the Vatican Embassy in Tehran carrying flowers
and a large banner that read: “We respond to the Pope’s violent
words with love.” They stood there in silence, then threw their
flowers at the building and returned. There are pictures at
Baztabs site (courtesy of my friend Mohammad Companieh)
http://www.baztab.ir/news/48459.php Scroll down to see the banner
which reads as I translated.

* The reaction of the Iranian Spiritual leader Khamenei was: “We
don’t expect much from President Bush, but such assertions from a
figure as revered as the Pope are suprising and regrettable.” He
warned, however, that the Pope’s “mistaken” judgments should not
lead to animosity between Muslims and Christians.

* And now to the issue of Iranian nuclear technology. PLEASE
publicize this recent — and important — development particularly
to those who find the news about Iran’s nuclear technology
frightening. Last week, U.N. inspectors investigating Iran’s
nuclear program angrily complained to the Bush administration and
to a Republican congressman about a recent House committee report
on Iran’s capabilities, calling parts of the document “outrageous
and dishonest” and offering evidence to refute its central claims.
Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Intelligence
Committee, which had issued the report about Iran’s nuclear
capabilities, said his intent was “to help increase the American
public’s understanding of Iran as a threat.”  Privately, several
intelligence officials told the Washington Post that ” the
committee report included at least a dozen claims that were either
demonstrably wrong or impossible to substantiate.”
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/13/AR2006091302052.html?referrer=email

* On a much happier note, an Iranian American Anousheh Ansari
Co-founder and Chair Person of Prodea Systems, will be the first
Iranian-born and the first female Muslim in space. Anousheh was
born in Mashhad, Iran in 1966. She immigrated to the U.S. in 1984.
She has a masters degree in electrical engineering from George
Washington University. If you wish to read more about her, please
click on:  http://www.payvand.com/news/06/sep/1167.html

Art and Culture: A Major Contemporary Poet and Painter

* Last week I promised not to focus on women’s achievements only.
Allow me to introduce you to a master poet and painter from 20th
century Iran: Sohrab Sepehri. Celebrated as a poet of peace and a
nature mystic, Sepehri has continued to be a major influence over
the past few decades. His works have formed a popular topic for
Persian scholarly studies while staying on the best-selling list.
Take a look at his short biography and scroll down to see some
paintings:
http://www.iranchamber.com/literature/ssepehri/sohrab_sepehri.php
And visit this site to see more paintings; you will find a
delightful self-portrait:
http://www.caroun.com/Literature/Iran/Poets/SohrabSepehri/SohrabSepehriContents.html

Suggested Reading: I wrote an article in 1997 which made extensive use
of Sepehri’s writing in the journal Religion & Literature with the title
The Call to Prayer from the Cypress Tree: Modernity and Redefining the
Spiritual in Persian Poetry
.”  The essay’s title is from a well-known
long poem by Sepehri, “The Footsteps of Water.”

* And now back to women! Nazila Fathi reported in New York Times in
2005 “The number of women who have published novels has reached
370… That is 13 times as many as a decade ago, the research
showed, and is about equal to the number for men today.” No
kidding.  I would like to introduce you to one of these great
writing talents Moniru Ravanipur.  Ravanipour is imaginative,
prolific, and outspoken. Her candid writing, interviews, and
public appearances draw large groups of men and women. A native of
southern Iran, Ravanipur lived in my hometown Shiraz for a long
time. Indeed our undergraduate studies coincided in Shiraz
University; she majored in Psychology and I in literature. Click here (Moniru Ravanipur) to get a picture and a short biography of Moniru Ravanipur.

Suggested Reading: Stories from Iran: a Chicago Anthology. For
bibliographical details and a list of authors included in the book,
please visit: http://www.mage.com/authors/anthology_biography.html

Visual Delight

* Since we are closing with my hometown Shiraz, let me invite you to
a slide show of a few of the gardens that the city is famous for
and their reflection in art and architecture. Just as buildings in
Isfahan are known for their blue tile work, in Shiraz wall
decorations consist of fine mirror work (literally hundreds of
fine mirror pieces covering the interior walls to reflect the
light). Click here (Shiraz Pictures) to see.  Enjoy!

Have a good week!
Fatemeh
========================
Fatemeh Keshavarz, Professor and Chair
Dept. of Asian and Near Eastern Languages and Literatuares
Washington University in St. Louis
Tel: (314) 935-5156
Fax: (314) 935-4399
========================

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Traditional Iranian Tea House in Shiraz

Traditional Iranian Tea House in Shiraz

Greetings again!

Many thanks for all your kind messages and for forwarding to friends.
Within minutes of sending out a new “Window,” I receive thank you
messages from a wide range of places in the world! I feel amply rewarded
for the work I put into each window. Sometimes, you write with a
specific query about a book or a film you want to use in class. Given my
current teaching and departmental responsibilities, please allow
approximately two weeks for a response.

I number the windows so we have a simple way to keep track. Please let
me know if there are missing numbers in the windows you have received,
JoAnn or I will forward them to you.

Current Issues

* Since you are likely to read this message tomorrow, I would like
to share with you a beautiful and moving piece of music written by
the Iranian musician Kourosh Taqavi for the traditional Persian
instrument setar, dedicated to the victims of 9/11 tragedy. Setar
is a small long-necked lute, an intimate instrument known for its
ability to express emotion. You will see a picture of it.  Please
be sure to listen to the whole excerpt (5 minutes):
http://www.iranian.com/Music/2001/September/Kourosh/index.html
* Last week I criticized NPR for misrepresenting a speech in
persian. This week I must commend the station for the very
informative program “Speaking of Faith” on Islam (touching on Iran
as well) aired this morning, 9:00-10:00. The panorama of voices
and views was refreshing. Among the Iranian American scholars
interviewed were Omid Safi (UNC), and Seyyid Hossein Nasr (George
Washington).

Suggested Reading: in relation to discussions surrounding the
anniversary of September 11, I would like to recommend a volume edited
by Professor Safi,  good for personal as well as classroom use:
Progressive Muslims: on Justice, Gender, and Pluralism (Oxford:
Oneworld, 2003).

* Iran continued to be in the papers.  LETTER FROM IRAN: A
Different Face of Iran
(Steven Knipp) in last Sunday’s Washington
Post is notable. Knipp observes: “what astonished me the most
about Iran were its women. I met and spoke with scores of them
from all parts of the country. And everywhere they were
wonderful: vivid, bold, articulate in several languages,
politically astute and audaciously outward-looking. While some men
demurred, the women weren’t afraid to voice opinions about
anything under the sun.” Not surprisingly, Knipp feels the need to
explain: ” In fact, women in Iran can work and drive and vote, own
property or businesses, run for political office and seek a
divorce. The majority of Iran’s university graduates are women.”
Sadly, the negative language that usually characterizes all media
reports on Iran surfaces in this well-intentioned letter as well
when the author expresses hope that:  “this once noble nation will
one day return to its tolerant roots.”  Similarly, the subtitle
for the letter reads: “An American finds hope in the Forbidden
Land.” Why forbidden land? What is forbidden? It is not clear. The
reader might assume (wrongly) that getting in and out of Iran is
not possible.

* Last week, Iran was in the news for a specific reason: a visit by
the former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami. He was here to
deliver the keynote address during the three-day annual event that
brought together approximately 40,000 Muslims: Islamic Society of
North America convention in Rosemont. The U.S. Deputy Secretary of
Defense Gordon England, Ingrid Matteson, the Society’s first
female president, and Robert Fisk, the celebrated British
journalist were among the speakers. Khatami’s address titled,
“Achieving Balance in a Troubled World,” focused on the complexity
of human identity and the need for American Muslims to acknowledge
the American as well as the Muslim component of their identity.
Chicago Sun-Times had a report on the convention if you like to
read more:
http://www.suntimes.com/output/religion/cst-nws-islamic01.html

* In a news conference held at the National Cathedral, Khatami
condemned committing violence in the name of any religion as a
double crime — one against humanity, and one against religions
which are “based on faith and love.”

Art/Culture

* Let us use the subject we are on to transition from politics into
art! In Iran, Khatami is best known for his support of arts,
particularly performing arts. Last year, the young Iranian super
star, actress Pegah Ahangarani
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pegah_Ahangarani

staged a show about Khatami in December 2005 to mark the ending of
his presidency. The show called ” A Night with the Man with a
Chocolate Robe” drew a large crowd and many reviews in the Iranian
media. Khatami joined the ladies on stage and spoke about the
significance of supporting and furthering his legacy of reform:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohammad_Khatami

* I know, I know my “windows” have often focused on women. It isn’t
my fault, as Knipp observed, there are many bright articulate
Iranian ladies making their artistic/intellectual statements. I
promise more attention to male contributions soon! For now, I
would like you to meet one more of my favorite Ladies of current
Iranian Cinema: internationally acclaimed writer and director,
Tahmineh Milani. Last time I went to see one of her films “Two
Women” in Iran, the wait in line for the ticket was one hour.
Milani has addressed many social issues, most of all those related
to women, family and gender. For a short bio and list of her
films, visit:
http://www.iranchamber.com/cinema/tmilani/tahmineh_milani.php

* And one more lady from Iranian cinema: Niki Karimi. Karimi started
with acting, worked closely with Milani, and moved into script
writing, documentary making and most recently directing. She has
won national fame, and many awards, for all of them. You may read
more about her and her films in:
http://www.nikikarimi.ir/biography.htm

Suggested Reading: Since we focused mostly on cinema, let me suggest a
good reading on the history of Iranian cinema and its recent
developments: The New Iranian Cinema: Politics, Representation and
Identity. The volume is edited by Richard Tapper and has contributions
from various scholars of Iranian cinema including Hamid Naficy.

Visual Delight

* It has turned into a tradition to close the window after a stroll
in a painting exhibit. Let us visit a 2006 exhibit by Neda Chaychi
born in 1971. In addition to her training as an artist, Neda has a
degree in clinical psychology. She has had many exhibits in the
last few years in Iran. As you see, women images are prominent in
her work:  http://www.elahe.net/thumb.php?gallery=317

Until Next Window!
Fatemeh

========================
Fatemeh Keshavarz, Professor and Chair
Dept. of Asian and Near Eastern Languages and Literatuares
Washington University in St. Louis
Tel: (314) 935-5156
Fax: (314) 935-4399
========================

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