Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Behrooz Ghamari’

Windows on Iran 16

Fin Garden in Kashan, Iran (image courtesy of Afshin Deyhim www.iranian.com).

Fin Garden in Kashan, Iran (image courtesy of Afshin Deyhim http://www.iranian.com).

Dear All,

Greetings! And Happy New Year!

Time to open a new window on Iran. I hope you have had a wonderful holiday so far. Thank you so much for all your kind messages concerning window number 15.  A combination of end of the semester duties and holiday activities have prevented me from writing
individual thank you notes.  I am most appreciative of all your responses. Please note that all the recent requests to be added to the listserv will be taken care of in the coming week.

I would like to indulge in a little holiday self promotion with a good
news!  My latest book –  a study of contemporary Persian poetry – was
just named “an outstanding academic title for the year 2006” by the
ALA’s review journal for academic and research libraries known as the
Choice Magazine. A wonderful Christmas present! The list is a small
percentage of approximately 7,000 titles. Here is the full
bibliographic information on the book:

Fatemeh Keshavarz, Recite in the Name of the Red Rose: Poetic Sacred
Making in 20th Century Iran (University of South Carolina Press,
2006).

Visual Delight:

Before we get into the special report that I have for you about the
very important mid-term elections in Iran, I want to give you my
Christmas gift. This is a power point slide show of a 19th century
private house, the Tabatabai House and a 17th century Safavid garden
called the Fin Garden in the city of Kashan, a central city with a
population of about 300,000. The main portion of the slides were
circulated by my friend Bahar Bastani. In case you want to use this in
class, the show has about 30 slides with a six second transition time
between slides. Just click on here: Fin Garden and the Tabatabai House in the City of Kashan.

Tabatabai House in Kashan, Iran.

Tabatabai House in Kashan, Iran.

Current Issues:

Iranian mid-term elections

Two weeks ago, the Iranian electorate made a clear statement in the
mid term elections in which reformists received 40%, the moderate
conservatives 24%, and the supporters of President Ahmadinejad about 3%
of the vote. The rest of the seats went to independent candidates. Of
the 15 seat up for grab in the Expert Assembly, only one went to his
supporters. This despite the fact that the reformists have objected to
accuracy of the counting process and want a recount of 10 ballot boxes
in each city to demonstrate that the overall pattern of the results
was more in their favor.  Since the main stream American media gave
minimal coverage to this very significant event (although it happened
in a country they are too eager to call the most dangerous country in
the world) I would like to give you some important details:

Among the features of this mid-term election was the prominence of
women in urban as well as rural settings. In my home town Shiraz the
top candidate was a 27 year old female architecture student, Fatemeh
Houshmand . In some cities like Qazvin and Hamadan, the top candidate
as well as 50% of the total elected members were women.

In an editorial for the online political newsletter CounterPunch my
friend Behrooz Ghamari wrote:  “Had this election occurred in an
allied country of the United States, it would have been celebrated as
the highest achievement of American foreign policy.”

What is most unfortunately masked from the American general public is
the maturity and thoughtfulness of the Iranian voter who did not allow
outside pressures on Iran to get translated into an exaggerated
“patriotism” in favor of the current regime. Here are examples of what
some voters said:

– “There is no room to breathe freely, Iran’s international
credibility and respect is diminishing, and we hope that we are not on
a path to war, I voted to change this direction.”
– “I voted to prove that our true desire is to transform this system,
and to show that we don’t need American democracy.”
-“I want to know, in which other country in the world do they have
carnivals on the streets and the artists and celebrities go to
neighborhoods to encourage people to participate?”
– a  young voter from Shiraz called the election a “velvet revolution”
that will strengthen “local decision making and non-governmental
organizations.”

To read Behrooz’s full editorial, click on:
http://www.counterpunch.org/ghamari12182006.html

Iranian Diplomats Arrested in Iraq:

Last week the U.S. defense officials declared the arrest of four
Iranian diplomats in Iraq. Two were released right away. The captured
Iranians – who were not named – were supposed to be carrying all kinds
of sensitive lists and documents pertaining to shipments of weapons
into Iraq, organizational charts, telephone records and maps, among
other sensitive intelligence information. No evidence has been
provided by American officials who are apparently unhappy at the
release of the last two diplomats. The story itself seems somewhat
shaky as the “highly sensitive” information claimed to be carried by
these officials can easily be transmitted electronically – or by two
inconspicuous Iraqi citizens – with much less risk.

According to the Iranian version of the story, the arrested people
were diplomats visiting as guests of the Iraqi President – which
explains why he was agitated at the incident. They were arrested
attending a funeral in the house of Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, an Iraqi
Shiite leader. According to this version, these people were released
because none of the claimed documents were found on them.

Iranian Women conducting a 1,000,000 signature Campaign

To reform gender related legal codes in Iran, young Iranian women
activists have started a signature collection campaign. They go door
to door, speak to people about women’s rights, and collect signatures
in support of the reforms which they seek. The innovative nature of
the move and passionate persistence of these young and energetic
feminists have earned them support from the Iranian public and shocked
the opposition. Please publicize this movement to friends who can get
on line and support them. My friend, women’s studies scholar and
activist, Nayereh Tohidi has written about the 1,000,000 signature
campaign:  http://www.payvand.com/news/06/dec/1174.html

On this very bright note, I wish you all a very happy 2007,
and great week.

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

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Tehran International Book Fair (image courtesy of www.tehran.ir)

Tehran International Book Fair (image courtesy of http://www.tehran.ir).

Dear All,

Greetings! I hope you all had a very nice Thanksgiving. Mine was extended by the snow storm that followed the holidays. Many people in Missouri suffered extensive power outage late last week. My family were to get it back on Sunday. There were close to 200,000 people still without power as of this morning. On a much more exciting note, last week at Washington University we hosted Orhan Pamuk the talented Turkish writer who received the Nobel Prize in Literature this year. Later in the same week we hosted Shabana Azmi, the Indian actress/activist and her poet husband Javed Akhtar.

And now to Window number 14 on Iran. Please note that the current issues
are a few days older due to the delay in sending this window to you.

Current Issues:

* A concerned friend, sent me the T O D A Y ‘ S   N E W S

“Religious leaders in Iran have started a campaign to end all
university programs that educate men and women together, The
Guardian reported. The push follows the release of statistics
showing dramatic gains for women at Iranian universities, where
they now outnumber men in key programs. The Guardian quoted a
cleric as saying that universities were turning into “fashion
shows.” I called Iran, and had a long conversation with a trusted
university professor friend. There is no factual basis to the
above report.  From time to time, there are discussions in Iranian
papers about the disproportionately higher number of women in
Iranian universities (about 70% of the students). No official
comments have been made about an attempt to reduce the number of
women university students.

* Mostafa Tabatabainejad, an Iranian American student at UCLA, was
repeatedly stunned with a Taser by the campus police and then
taken into custody. He had been asked to leave the computer lab
after he failed to produce an ID during a check at around 11:30
p.m. Many terrified students videotaped the incident on their cell
phones. The videos show Tabatabainejad screaming in pain as he was
stunned several times with a Taser, each time for three to five
seconds. He was told repeatedly to stand up and stop fighting, and
that if he did not do so he would “get Tased again.” He is heard
screaming on the video “I’m not fighting you” and “I said I would
leave.” Carlos Zaragoza, a third year student of English who
witnessed the incident said Tabatabainejed was also stunned with
the Taser when already handcuffed. Zaragoza said. “(He was) no
possible danger to any of the police.” One troubling point is
that, according to eyewitnesses, Tabatabainejed was already
leaving when the police entered. The other that according to a
study published in the Lancet Medical Journal in 2001, a charge of
three to five seconds can result in immobilization for five to 15
minutes, which would mean that Tabatabainejad could have been
physically unable to stand when the officers demanded that he do so.

*According to Peter Eliasberg, managing attorney at the ACLU of
South California, “It is a real mistake to treat a Taser as some
benign thing that painlessly brings people under control.”
Eliasberg said: “The Taser can be incredibly violent and result in
death.”

Second Slide Show of Isfahan

* Time for nice, healing, beautiful images to look at! My good
friend Bahar Bastani has just sent out a gorgeous series of
pictures from the historical city of Yazd in central Iran. I will
turn them into a power point slide show and send them out in the
next window. Here is a sample:

Beautiful view of the city of Yazd at Sunset (courtesy of www.letsgoiran.com)

Beautiful view of the city of Yazd at Sunset (courtesy of http://www.letsgoiran.com)

* I do have another slide show for this window from the city of
Isfahan. This is my second slide show of Isfahan in these windows.
I have deliberately blended historical as well as modern scenery,
art work, etc. Click here: Isfahan slide show. Enjoy!

Iranian Annual Book Fair

* The Iranian Annual Book Fair is a major event that brings together
thousands of volumes published in various subjects. Thousands of
people travel to the capital to simply visit the book fair. This
year, the book fair attracted two million Iranians. My good friend
Behrooz Ghamari, who wrote a piece for Illinois International
Review after his recent trip to Iran, has a picture of the people
attending the book fair in June. While critiquing aspects of life
in present day Iran, Behrooz – a historian and sociologist who
takes special interest in Iranian current issues – presents an
overall positive and hopeful view of the country. Do take a look
http://www.ips.uiuc.edu:16080/io/iir.shtml. Click on fall 2006
issue, and go to page 2 and 3.

Another photo from the Tehran International Book Fair (image courtesy of www.flickr.com)

Another photo from the Tehran International Book Fair (image courtesy of http://www.flickr.com)

Iranian Cinema

Nikki Karimi, famous actress and director of A Few Days Later (image courtesy of www.ashreshteh.com)

Nikki Karimi, famous actress and director of "A Few Days Later" (image courtesy of http://www.ashreshteh.com)

* Iranian cinema continues to produce internationally acclaimed, often critical, films. A great feature of this cinema is the presence of women before or behind the camera. Nikki Karimi, the actress whose talent was, early in her career, overshadowed by her beauty  (http://www.payvand.com/news/06/oct/1083.html) is now making it big as a director.  Last month, Karimi presented her second long feature film “A Few Days Later,” in the Italian film festival at Rome.  Karimi has acted in some the sharpest feminist statements by the prominent woman director, Tahmineh Milani. “A Few Days Later” tells the story of a young  woman who has to make serious decisions about her life.
Have a great week,
Fatemeh
===================================
Fatemeh Keshavarz, Professor and Chair
Dept. of Asian and Near Eastern Languages and Literatures
Washington University in St. Louis
Tel: (314) 935-5156
Fax: (314) 935-4399
==================================

Read Full Post »

Woman voting in the Iranian elections of 2005. Contrary to statements made frequently in the mainstream U.S. media, women CAN vote in Iran starting at age sixteen.

A woman voting in the Iranian elections of 2005. Contrary to statements made frequently in the mainstream U.S. media, women CAN vote in Iran starting at the age sixteen.

Greetings to all.

Thanks again for your continued enthusiastic reception of these windows. Please feel free to forward to colleagues, friends, and students (or suggest names to be added to the list). Furthermore, I would be delighted with any suggestions you might have to make the material more useable in the classroom.

Two personal messages: first very special thanks to JoAnn Achelpohl whose effective management of the listserv enables me to keep it going
during the academic year. Second, if you did not get Window number 3 (or any in the sequence so far) it might be because your mail box was full
at the time that the message was sent. Please let me know and you will receive the window you missed. Now, to window number 4.

Current Issues:

* Mr. Ahmadinejad continues to be a media sensation here. While he
personally contributes to that, the exaggerations and inaccuracies
associated with him are quite remarkable. On Tuesday morning,
August 29, NPR 9 o’clock News played a part of what the audience
was to consider part of an Ahmadinejad heated speech in “defiance”
of the UN resolution. Here is what I heard the Iranian President
say in Persian: “They (I assume a general reference to the west)
say they would like to negotiate with us. Let them do so. We have
no problems with that at all!”  NPR needs a Persian speaker.
* CNN does not seem to have access to the Iranian constitution
either. Iranian women and men can vote from the age 16. Iranian
electoral participation in general elections is around 90% which
is very high compared to many other parts of the world. Now,
checkout the following cartoon posted on the CNN web site
(courtesy of Shadi Peterman who forwarded it to me):
http://www.cnn.com/POLITICS/analysis/toons/2006/09/01/mikula/index.html

Cultural Social

* Interesting statistics: last week, my historian/sociologist
colleague Behrooz Ghamari (U. of Illinois) wrote “last year alone
more than 2000 titles in philosophy were published in Iran. Out of
these titles, 1321 were translated volumes and 992 written in
Farsi. This is a six fold increase from ten years ago when only
350 books in philosophy were published.”  Behrooz adds he wanted
to send this information to Tom Friedman who wished a while ago
that “Muslims” would also read the works of western philosophers!
* In this part, I have a “Gift” for you. This is the title of a
beautiful short poem by Forough Farrokhzad (1935-1967) one of the
most influential poets of the twentieth century Iran. I will
devote a special “window on Iran” to her and her achievements in
the future. In the meantime, let me give you this poem now because
the gift she is talking about is a “window” by which I think she
means openings in the walls of our unquestioned perceptions. This
is what inspired me to call these updates “windows” on Iran. I
have attached the poem “Gift” as a word document (\”The Gift\” by Farrokhzad). Enjoy!

Suggested Reading: Bride of Acacias: Selected Poems of Forough
Farrokhzad
. Tr. Jascha Kessler with Amin Banani (New York: Caravan
Books, 1982). I am not aware of new editions, so the best way to get the
book should be borrowing it from major libraries. Kessler/Banani
translations are – for the most part – excellent.

Visual Delights:

* This week I have many visual delights for you. The first is a
brief tour of three historic Persian churches, two in Isfahan and
one in Qazvin.   http://www.farsinet.com/iranchurches/
* And four sets of art exhibits by one of the most renowned
painters in present day Iran Hannibal Alkhas (b.1930). Son of an
acclaimed Assyrian writer Rabi Adi Alkhas, Hannibal and his family
belong to an Iranian Christian community, one of the oldest in the
world: the Assyrians. He studied art and philosophy in Iran and
the U.S. and, after extended periods of living in either country,
returned to Iran where he has been teaching in the department of
fine arts in Azad University since 1992. Hannibal’s exhibits draw
large crowds in Iran and he teaches private classes. I personally
had the pleasure of hosting Mr. Alkhas in my “Introduction to
Islamic Civilization” in 1997 where he showed slides of his works
and spoke about the place of visual arts in Persian culture.
Contemporary Iranian writers form a central theme in the paintings
of Hannibal Alkhas. In June 1999, he devoted the following exhibit
to Nima Youshij, the father of modern Persian Poetry:
http://www.elahe.net/thumb.php?gallery=26 and a year later one to
Forough Farrokhzad http://www.elahe.net/thumb.php?gallery=25
Just to see the diversity of Hannibal’s work, visit his 2003
outdoor sculpture exhibit on the theme of birds:
http://www.elahe.net/thumb.php?gallery=27 and one of his latest
painting exhibits:   http://www.elahe.net/thumb.php?gallery=24

I hope you have enjoyed Window number 4.  Let me end with One More
Suggested Reading on contemporary Iranian history: Iran Between Two
Revolutions by Ervand Abrahamian
(Princeton U. Press).

Have a great weekend.

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

Read Full Post »