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Windows on Iran 52

A painting by Iranian painter Iman Maleki of a group of Iranian men enjoying some setar, tar, oud, and ney music. Please see the link at the end of this 'Window' for more of his fantastic paintings.

A painting by world-famous Iranian painter Iman Maleki, depicting a group of Iranian men relaxing and enjoying some traditional Persian music being played on the setar, tar, oud, and ney. Please see the link at the end of this 'Window' for more of his works.

Dear All,

Greetings. I hope you are continuing to enjoy the summer. My summer has turned out to be as lively as the academic year usually is. Let me briefly report.

* Last week I got together with my undergraduate classmates in a Shiraz University reunion held in San Diego! San Diego and Shiraz are both beautiful cities, in different ways. We had a panel organized on Rumi’s poetry. Besides that, I read poetry to music.

* Another exciting piece of news is that I have accepted to be the honorary Co-Chair of a vibrant emerging organization called “Iranians For Peace” (IFP). Our Board consist of five very able and dedicated women of Iranian heritage (more to be added). The main goal of this non-partisan group is to prevent war through promoting peaceful cultural education on Iran. On some level, this is what I have been engaged in for a sometime. These windows are an example of that. I hope you get a chance to visit our website, stay abreast of the activities, and provide us with your support: http://www.iraniansforpeace.net.

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* On the subject of my summer activities, let me give the links to two articles which I have recently published. On July 16, I had an editorial in the St. Louis Post Dispatch, the link is: “A 21st-century warning from a 13th-century poet.”

* And on August 2nd, I had a piece published in the online newsletter Counterpunch: http://www.counterpunch.org/keshavarz08022008.html.  I hope you find them useful!

Who Are Iranian Americans?

* Enough of my activities. Many Americans are working hard to bring about an understanding of the diversity of Iranians in Iran and in the US. Watch this fascinating clip which was sent to me by my friend, and a board member of the IFP, Leila Zand: http://www.searchles.com/channels/show/4563 (or view below!).
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Arsalan Kazemi (above) is the first Iranian to receive a NCAA basketball scholarship (image courtesy of www.sportsillustrated.cnn.com)

Arsalan Kazemi (above) is the first Iranian to receive a NCAA basketball scholarship (image courtesy of http://www.sportsillustrated.cnn.com)

What do Do Iran and America Exchange?

* Sometimes it appears that Iran and the U.S. only trade harsh political attacks. The truth is more interesting exchanges take place as well, but somehow do not qualify as news. Once I reported in these windows that the American women softball team was in Iran for a match with their Iranian counterparts. A lot of you were surprised. Well, here is another fun headline which does not make it to your evening news: An Isfahani young man, Arsalan Kazemi, the first Iranian to get an NCAA scholarship to play basketball in the US. Take a look at him in action. Thanks to my friend Omid Safi who has shared this interesting piece of news: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/writers/luke_winn/07/15/kazemi/index.html

* Before I put the finishing touches to this window, I recieved a great clip from another friend Ladan Foroughi-Hedayati related to the subject of Iranian basketball. It is an MSNBC report on the recent visit of the Iranian Basketball team to the U.S. The report is great in showing a side of Iran that we rarely see in our media here. However, sadly, the report follows the general tradition of connecting all Iran related news to the American hostages. We even listen to President Bush declaring Iran to be a member of the axis of evil before we see a few minutes of the game. The formula prevents one from seeing the humanity or normality of Iran because we are first told about all the possible differences, disagreements, and political conflicts. Still, I hope you enjoy the basketball part: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/25796284#25796284.

Current Issues

* Speaking of political conflict, despite the apparent calm, the predictions concerning the Iran/US relations are not hopeful. What you hear in the mainstream media is that Iran is about to turn down the EU package of incentives and there should be more UN sanctions. However, the view from the other side is different. Take a look at this article discussing the views of Francis Boyle, the influential intentional lawyer, to get a different perspective on the situation: http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2008/07/29/10672/.

* There is an interesting clip, that my friend Bahar Bastani sent this week. It highlights a part of the famous interview that Mr. Mike Wallace conducted with President Ahmadinejad which has not been included in the official broadcast of the interview. Since Mr. Ahmadinejad ‘s words are often used as justification for sanctions or possible attacks on Iran, it is important to know exactly what he has said regardless of our personal interpretations of it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=onNzrNEFs1E (or view it below!).

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* And there is yet more grim news from Mr. Seymour Hersh. This is his latest reference to a strong tendency among certain members of the current U.S. administration to create a clash that would lead to a war with Iran. Matt Miller has kindly shared this piece with me. Thanks Matt! http://www.truthout.org/article/hersh-cheney-plan-creating-false-flag-attack
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A painting of two young Iranian women reading on the roof of a city building. Please see the link to the left for much more of his art work.

A painting by Iman Maleki of two young Iranian women reading on the roof of a city building. Please see the link to the left for much more of his art work.

The Amazing Paintings of Iman Maleki

* If you are familiar with Persian culture, or have been following these windows regularly, you know that painting is among the most popular art forms in Iran. I have usually been sending you paintings of Iranian women, in part because it counters the myth that they are subjugated, inactive, or unable to express their creative talents. In this window, however, I want to introduce the works of young man, an amazing master painter whose works have been getting him international fame in the recent years, Iman Maleki (1976-). Maleki has experimented with a variety of styles but he is mostly a realist whose works have a strong cultural flavor. Click here to see a slide show of some of his tremendous work: Iman Maleki Paintings. Enjoy!

I hope you enjoy this window.

Until the next one,
I Wish you all the Best,
Fatemeh
===================================
Fatemeh Keshavarz, Professor and Chair
Dept. of Asian and Near Eastern Languages and Literatures
Washington University in St. Louis
Honorary Co-Chair, Iranians For Peace
Tel: (314) 935-5156
Fax: (314) 935-4399
==================================

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A painting by the Iranian artist Mansoureh Panahgar. All of her paintings are so vivid and strikingly beautiful that it was hard decide which one to include. Please see the link at the end of this 'Windows on Iran' for more of her works.

A painting by the Iranian artist Mansoureh Panahgar. All of her paintings are so vivid and strikingly beautiful that it was hard decide which one to include. Please see the link at the end of this 'Windows on Iran' for more of her works.

Dear All,

Greetings! I hope you are all well. Many of you have asked for my comments on Mr. Ahmadinejad’s presentations/interview at Columbia. I promise to do that after I have had a few days to gather a summary of important points. This is likely to be the next window.

The current window is number 40 and that is a fact worth celebration. Number 40 is a significant number in Persian culture. First, people are supposed to mature at age 40 and the 40th day after many events is remembered or celebrated. Second, I am proud of being able to keep up with preparing these windows in the evenings. When I started them, I was not sure how long will I be able to continue them.

Third, a respected colleague has asked me to teach a course on the basis of these windows. I am really excited about this and thinking about the best ways to bring the material to the classroom.

Finally and most importantly, as I sent out these windows during the past year, the number of subscribers tripled! And these are only the direct recipients. Many of you share these windows with others.  To celebrate the 40th Window on Iran, let us focus on good things.

Iranian American Presence in the U.S.

Iranian American Omid Kordestani

Iranian American Omid Kordestani is currently the senior vice president for global sales and business development at Google. He recently gave the commencement address at San Jose State University (click the link on the left to see his address) (image courtesy of http://www.fogcityjournal.com).

Let us open this window celebrating Iranian Americans as a vibrant immigrant community who continue to turn the opportunities available to them here into stunning success for themselves and the community at large. Watch a few minutes of this year’s commencement address at SJSU by Omid Kordestani, 42, the senior vice president for global sales and business development at Google sent by cousin Abe:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJer30-Lj2s

Iranian and Israeli Artists Collaborate to Avert War

A great friend I have made through these windows, Joy, usually sends wonderful Iran-related links for the windows. Recently, she sent me the link to a web site that describes a collaborative play by an Israeli and an Iranian playwrite, Motti Learner and Mahmoud Karimi-Hakkak among others. In the play which is called Benedictus, a Jew and a Muslim work to avert a war on Iran. What Joy does not know is that only yesterday, we hosted Motti Learner, the Israeli playwrite, on our campus here at Washington University. He gave an absolutely wonderful talk about the ways in which drama can serve peace. Do visit the site to read about the collaborative work. And see Motti Learner’s plays if you can. I know I’d be lining up for the tickets if his work is staged anywhere I can go: http://www.goldenthread.org/0708/benedictus.htm (also, please click the video below to hear from the writers and learn more about the play).

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This Friendliest of Countries!

Yes, it is about Iran. Who says it? Lonely Planet World Guide! Thanks
Rostam for sharing this rave review:  “Axis of evil’? Most visitors,
after experiencing this friendliest of countries, couldn’t agree less.
For culture seekers, Iran has magnificent ruins of ancient cities,
glorious mosques and mausoleums, and museums so interesting they’re
bound to leave your feet sore.”  Here is the link to the web site of
one of the world’s most popular travel guide publishers:
http://www.lonelyplanet.com/worldguide/destinations/middle-east/iran

Music

* In Iran, women musicians were honored in Talare Vahdat in Tehran last
July. For pictures of various group and individual performers visit
this site: http://www.payvand.com/news/07/jul/1066.html.

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World famous guitarist Lily Ashfar.

World famous guitarist Lily Afshar.

* On a related note, the first woman in the world to earn a Doctorate of Music in guitar performance, an Iranian American, Lily Afshar is going to perform in St. Louis in January. Her program will include music from her native country Iran performed on the Persian traditional instrument Seh-tar.  For more information on this great artist, visit her website at: http://www.lilyafshar.com/ (thanks to Sara for the website).

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Mahan Esfahani

Mahan Esfahani

* Iranian Americans are playing an increasingly significant role in the non-Iranian musical scene in the U.S. The harpsichord player Mahan Isfahani wins international acclaim: http://www.payvand.com/news/07/sep/1261.html

Politics

* Not entirely possible to avoid politics, I’m afraid. My husband, Ahmet Karamustafa, who is always on the lookout for positive news with relation to Iran, has supplied a great short article on the dreaded question of war on Iran by a very prominent scholar, Immanuel Wallerstein. You’d be happy to know that he ends the article with the statement: “in my view the likelihood of such ‘desperate’ action to prevail is quite low, if not entirely impossible.”! http://www.agenceglobal.com/Article.asp?Id=1361

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* Another step away from a war on Iran came last week from a very
important military figure, the former U.S. Commander John Abizaid. He
suggested that a nuclear-armed Iran may not be such a threat. “Iran is
not a suicide nation,” said the General “I mean, they may have some
people in charge that don’t appear to be rational, but I doubt that
the Iranians intend to attack us with a nuclear weapon.” While I hope
we move in the direction of demilitarization of the region including
nuclear weapons, it is reassuring to know that important military
figures such as General Abizaid opt for the more middle of the road
approach: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/mochila.php?articleId=9037252&channelId=73&buyerId=talkingpointsmemo_com400732&buid=.

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Iranian artist Mansoureh Panahgar.

Iranian artist Mansoureh Panahgar (image courtesy of http://www.elahe.net).

Visual Delight

For our visual delight, this week I introduce the work of a young woman painter Mansoureh Panahgar. Panahgar was born in Tehran in 1976. As you will see, her work is very different from the paintings of other young artists whom I have introduced here. She combines realistic and abstract art. The theme of antique objects is particularly prominent in her work. The objects themselves appear with realistic clarity against abstract backdrops of softer colors. Please click here: Mansoureh Panahgar Painting Show. Enjoy!

With that, I think it is time to close the window for this week. Have a great week!

Best,
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
==================================

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Iranian American Dr. Lily Afshar is considered to be one of the worlds best female guitar players. She has also recently began playing the setar.

Iranian-American Dr. Lily Afshar is considered to be one of the worlds best female guitar players. More recently, she has also began playing the Persian instrument setar (see below for more information).

Greetings everyone,

I hope you have all had a great weekend. Many thanks for all your kind notes and for joining the listserv. I received enthusiastic comments about the calligraphy exhibit that I sent in window number 9. I am glad you enjoyed them and will keep an eye open from more calligraphic works I can send.

As usual, please give me about two weeks to get back to you if you have any questions. If you send me a kind note of support or ideas for future windows, I might not be able to respond simply because of the volume of correspondence. Please forgive me. I do read all your e-mails with great interest. If you signed on during the past two days, you will get this window (and the previous windows, if you asked for them) with a day or two delay. Again, that is because it usually takes JoAnn and I a couple of days to process new requests.

Current Issues:

* I did not find Iran in the headlines (itself amazing news).
Instead, I attach an informative interview with Dr. Trita Parsi
the US-based scholar on Iran (and the current President of NIAC).
He talks about the position of Iranian politicians, the executive
powers of the Iranian President, and possibilities of diplomatic
solutions to the nuclear standoff, among other things:
http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1543504,00.html

Iranian Americans:

* The prominent Iranian American I would like to introduce to you
this week is again a musician. This is, in fact, one of the top
female classical guitar players in the world, Dr. Lily Afshar.
Born and raised in Iran, Lily Afshar completed her graduate work
in music at the Boston Conservatory. She has been teaching in
University of Memphis since 1989 and, at the same time, has been
performing internationally. More recently, she has started the
Persian instrument setar. To see a picture of Lily Afshar and read
about her achievements, click on:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lily_Afshar
Isfahan Slide Show:

* As you can see I have not forgotten the slide show I promised last
week on the historic city of Isfahan. After I sent my slide show
on Shiraz, a friend wrote that he included the topic of Shiraz in
one of his lectures so he could share the slides with his
students. I hope you find the slides of Isfahan equally beautiful
and usable in the classroom. Just click here: Beautiful and Historic City of Isfahan, Iran.

Naqshe Jahan Square in the historic city of Isfahan.

Naqsh-e Jahan Square in the historic city of Isfahan.

A Major Contemporary Persian Ghazal Writer:

*Reference to Persian poetry usually evokes thought of classical figures such as Omar Khayyam, Hafez and Rumi. From time to time, the modern verse of Forough Farrokhzad, Ahmad Shamlu and others of their generation becomes available in English. Twentieth century Iranian poets are known almost exclusively for their reformist tendencies that transformed classical genres into what Iranians now call ‘shi’re now,’ literally “new poetry.” In this poetry, figures such as Farrokhzad introduced wonderfully fresh ideas which were not considered fit for poetry before. In the poem “From darkness,” for example, Farrokhzad wrote:
I  called you
my whole being held in my hands
like a bowl of milk
the moon glanced blue on the panes

The fact that is almost entirely unknown outside Iran — because
very little translation has been done — is that twentieth century
Iran has great ghazal writers some comparable to Sa’di and Hafiz
only writing their ghazals in a new poetic language. Houshang
Ebtehaj with pen name Sayeh (b. 1927) is one such master poet. For
a recent photo of Ebtehaj during a poetry reading click on
http://saamhouse.co.uk/gallery/archives/000029.php#000029 . Despite
the imposing look, and his reputation as a poet with political and
social comittment, Ebtehaj has a vast quantity of gentle lyric
poetry in ghazal form (as well as many in modern poetry). To my
knowledge, there are no English translations of these ghazals. If
you read Persian click on
http://www.easypersian.com/houshang_ebtehaj/sineh_sardan.htm to
see a couple of the ghazals in Persian (and a short and basic
biography in English).

* On the topic of classical persian poetry, if you are interested in
reading stories from Firdowsi’s classical epic Shahnameh/The Book
of Kings
as comic books, click on:
http://www.hyperwerks.com/series/rostam_chara1.html (courtesy of
Ladan Foroughi).

Iranian Cinema:

* Iranian women’s most recent international achievements have
included the movie “Friday Evening,” Mona Zandi’s directional
debut, which won the special jury prize in Cologne film Festival
last week: http://www.payvand.com/news/06/oct/1170.html.  In fact,
the festival dedicated an entire section to Iranian women film
makers. On the topic of cinema, another Iranian (this time male)
director Azizollah Hamidnejad won the Tegernsee Award for his film
“Tears of Cold” in the Mountain Film Festival held in Germany,
Oct. 18-22.

Visual Delight:

* I leave you with two oil paintings by the young painter Adel
Younesi. The theme of both is street side peddlers. I find them
both delightful: http://www.elahe.net/photo.php?picid=3474 and
another one on the same theme
http://www.elahe.net/photo.php?picid=3473

Have a great 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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