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Windows on Iran 51

A beautiful shot of a frozen waterfall in the Khorasan province of Northeastern Iran.

A beautiful shot of a frozen waterfall in the Khorasan province of Northeastern Iran (see the link below for more pictures from this striking natural wonder).

Dear All,

I hope you are having a great summer. The St. Louis weather has been exceptionally cooperating — so far. For those of you who are experiencing a hot summer, I will start this window with a cooling visual delight from Iran:

Frozen Waterfall

* Last winter, in the province of Khorasan in North East of Iran, a huge waterfall froze. Behnaz Seyedi, a female Iranian photographer, took advantage of the natual art display and took the following photographs. Please click here: Frozen Waterfall of Khorasan. Enjoy!

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Iranian Women Inventors Shining in International Competition!

* Bagging 12 gold, five silver and six bronze medals, Iranian women inventors gained the first place among 25 countries participating at the international event, held in the South Korean capital of Seoul from May 8 to 10, 2008. Among their inventions: surgical equipments and electricity generators. In this prestigious international event, Iranian female inventors competed with participants from 25 countries including France, Switzerland, Japan, Romania, and Australia and got the first place. For the full article please visit: http://www.tehrantimes.com/index_View.asp?code=168969.

Iranian Maryam Eslami won the International Federation of Inventors Associations (IFIA) Award for the surgical tool she invented that is used to repair the olecranon.

Iranian Maryam Eslami won the International Federation of Inventors' Associations (IFIA) Award for the surgical tool she invented that is used to repair the olecranon.

* The above news contradicts the images often circulating on the internet depicting Iranian women in frightening conditions. Please don’t get me wrong, there are a few items on the Iranian constitution which I would like to see changed. However, much of the “information” circulating about Iranian women on the web and in the popular media is often grossly inaccurate because it is published without proper scrutiny and verification. Basically, negative news comes across as “most probably true” and therefore not necessary to be questioned. Let me give you an example, an excruciating image showing the process of burying a woman from waist down in the ground to be stoned to death circulated on the web. When the Iranian President visited Columbia University, the image was enlarged and carried by some protesters. It has now turned out to be a scene from a movie called “The Stone.”

A 1994 Dutch indie film entitled "The Stone." Director Mahnaz Tamizi, actress Smadar Monsinos and her photo is to the right.

This infamous picture is actually a frame from the 1994 Dutch indie film entitled "The Stone," directed by Mahnaz Tamizi. The woman in the ground is an actress named Smadar Monsinos and a real photo of her is to the right.

The actress Smadar Monsinos (above) is the woman featured in the frame (on the left) from the indie Dutch movie "The Stone." This particular frame from this movie is frequently used by critics of Iran as if it were a real image.

The actress Smadar Monsinos (above) is the woman featured in the frame (on the left) from the indie Dutch movie "The Stone." This particular frame from this movie is frequently used by critics of Iran as if it were a real historical image.

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Time out with Art work by Iranian Women

* Enjoying creativity of artists has a great healing quality. Let us move on from the fictional “stoning” image to actual art work by Iranian women, their creativity with clay. Here is an exhibit of amazing pottery work by Iranian women. Click on the link below…and enjoy: http://www.jadidonline.com/images/stories/flash_multimedia/Women_sofalgari_eng_test/sofalgari_high.html.

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Current Events

* The past ten days or so have been tense and rather worrisome with fiery statements and grim predictions of a possible military assault on Iran by the United States and/or Israel. Cooler heads seem to be at work to insert a note of sanity into the discussion.

* For those who think U.S. and Israel have no choice but attack Iran, I recommend a very insightful recent article written by Shlomo Ben-Ami, vice president of the Toledo International Center for Peace and former foreign minister of Israel and Trita Parsi president of the National Iranian American Council and author of Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran and the US. The article, published yesterday in the Christian Science Monitor is titled: “The alternative to an Israeli attack on Iran.” Here is the link:
http://www.csmonitor.com/2008/0702/p09s01-coop.html.

* Iranian top politicians sound more positive in the past couple of days as well. In an interview with the Associated Press, the Iranian Foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Iran was considering the package presented by the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Javier Solana on behalf of the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany. He praised as “very constructive” Solano’s response to Iran’s proposals on the subject. Mottaki said he saw “significant capacities” being explored in the latest round of talks that were not present earlier. Mr. Mottaki is in New York for talks at the United Nations. He hinted there has been diplomatic progress on easing tensions with the West at a time of heightened concern. To read the full interview, visit: http://www.campaigniran.org/casmii/index.php?q=node/5474.

* The truth is neither war nor sanctions solve problems. They both kill innocent individuals, and postpone processes of positive social change and evolution. It is time to realize that as a large, complex, and vibrant society, Iran has plenty to offer the region and the world. And that the country must be engaged in a serious and constructive manner.

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Women at Work in Iran

Despite what the mainstream U.S. media will often lead you to believe, women in Iran are very active in society and are well-represented in every major field of work. Above is a (female) doctor delivering a newborn in a Tehran hospital. Also included in the picture show (linked on the left) is Iranian women firefighters, computer technicians, factory workers, and artists.

Despite what the mainstream U.S. media will often lead you to believe, women in Iran are very active in society and are well-represented in every major field of work. Above is a (female) doctor delivering a newborn in a Tehran hospital. Also included in the picture show (linked on the left) is Iranian women firefighters, computer technicians, factory workers, and artists.

* Since we have been focused almost entirely on Iranian women in this issue, I would like to close this window with a slide show of very recent images of Iranian women at work in all segments of the society. Please click here: Women at Work in Iran.

Till the next window, have a wonderful summer and a great weekend!

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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Windows on Iran 47

Happy Nouruz Everyone!!! Persian families throughout the world right now are celebrating Nouruz (Nowrouz), the Persian New Year. Above is an example of the a "hafsin," which is a special table prepared for Nouruz (please see the link below for much more information about Nouruz).

Happy Nouruz Everyone!!! Persian families throughout the world right now are celebrating Nouruz (Nowrouz), the Persian New Year. Above is an example of a "haftsin," which is a special table prepared for the Nouruz celebration.

Dear All,

Greetings and a very Happy Spring to you! We are in the first week of Nouruz, the Persian New Year. How can I not come out of sabbatical to open a new window, even the ground hog is out. I’ll make this a pictorial essay as far as possible (Usually I attach one slide show only. Hope it wouldn’t be too hard on your computers).

Nouruz (Nowrouz)

* Persian speakers call the Near Year Nouruz (literally A New Day) to highlight the refreshing and life-giving nature of the season. Linked below is a power point show on how Nouruz is celebrated in Iran and other Persian speaking parts of the world. If you are a teacher, I hope it will help in the classroom. Please click here: The Nouruz (Nowrouz) Celebration.

Love

* Let me start with my favorite picture of the year taken by an Iranian youth last year (below). The picture won a photography contest in Japan. The young photographer called it “love.”

A young Iranian photographer took this award-winning and heart-warming photo, entitled "Love."

A young Iranian photographer took this award-winning and heart-warming photo, entitled "Love."

Recommended Reference Source

* If you like to look up information about Iran or Persian traditions, one of the best reference sources available in major libraries is Encyclopedia Iranica edited by a prominent Iranian scholar Ehsan Yarshater. To read about him and the encyclopedia visit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ehsan_Yarshater.

Distinguished Iranian scholar Ehsan Yarshater with Iranian Nobel Peace Laurette Shirin Ebadi and the prominent Iranian author and womens rights activist Mehrangiz Kar.

Distinguished Iranian scholar Ehsan Yarshater with Iranian Nobel Peace Laurette Shirin Ebadi (left) and the prominent Iranian author and women's rights activist Mehrangiz Kar (right).

Things are Looking Scary Again

* I had thought to leave any discussion of political conflict out of this particular window. After the NIE Report released in December, which demonstrated the Intelligence community’s confidence about lack of nuclear weapons in Iran, the chances of an American military confrontation with Iran seemed very slim. In recent weeks, particularly since the resignation of Admiral Fallon from the Central Command, rumors of a possible confrontation have been revived. A number of developments contribute to these rumors:

1. Vice President Cheney’s extended tour of the Middle East: here is an interesting essay by Micheal Klare, professor of peace and correspondent for The Nation: http://www.agenceglobal.com/article.asp?id=1515.

2. According to Japan Focus, an Asia Pacific Electronic Journal,  a unit within the US Treasury Department, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), issued a March 20th advisory to the world’s financial institutions about transactions with Iran. Apparently, this is an important economic move to further isolate Iran: http://japanfocus.org/products/details/2707.

3. So far President Bush had described Iran as a threat to its immediate neighbors. This seems rather unusual since four of Iran’s neighbors have substantial   U.S. military bases on their soil and two of them or are invaded by the U.S. It now appears that the French President Sarkozy has joined the heads of states who feel threatened by Iran. Speaking Friday in the northern French port of Cherbourg, President Sarkozy described Iran as a threat to Europe. In light of the fact that the U.S. army is sitting on three sides of Iran, not to mention the U.S. full presence in the Persian Gulf, most observers will find this claim exaggerated at best. However, the substance of this claim is less important than the hostile tone that the French president has adopted.

4. Finally, the most troubling recent development of all is the report by Egyptian sources that an American nuclear submarine has crossed the Suez Canal to join the US fleet stationed in the Persian Gulf: http://www.campaigniran.org/casmii/index.php?q=node/4439.

Could all of these be coincidences? One would disparately hope so…and no one can be sure. But – if you are among the people who feel you must work to prevent another disastrous war- this is the time.

A beautiful painting by the very talented Iranian painter Sepideh Farzam (please click the link to the right for more of her outstanding paintings).

A beautiful painting by the very talented Iranian painter Sepideh Farzam (please click the link below for more of her outstanding work).

Visual Delight

* If you are a regular reader of “Windows on Iran,” you know that we have a tradition of following unpleasant political events with art work from Iran. So, traditionally I close each window with a power point slide show of a recent painting exhibit in Iran. I hope it washes off the bitter taste of political conflict but also demonstrates the creativity and vibrancy of the current Persian culture. For this reason, I pick most of the paintings from the works of young artists and mostly women.

* Today’s artist is Sepideh Farzam, she was born in the city of Tabriz in north east of Iran.  Unlike most artists featured in these windows, she is not a graduate of and an art program. Sepideh, is an electric engineer by profession, an engineer who has followed her interest in painting quite seriously. She has had many group exhibits in various galleries in Iran. To See Ms. Farzam’s latest show, please click here: Sepideh Farzam Paintings. It is a fairly small exhibit. Enjoy.

Let us hope that the joy of this Nouruz will not be tarnished with the news of another war. Till our next window, have a great spring.

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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Some of the many different faces of Iranians/Iranian Americans. These particular faces are some Iranian American children from a summer camp that is dicussed in an article below (please scroll down to see many more faces of Iran!). (Image courtesy of www.iranalliances.org).

Some of the many different "faces" of Iranians/Iranian Americans. These particular "faces" are some young Iranian American children from a summer camp that is discussed in an article below (please scroll down to see many more 'faces of Iran'!). (Image courtesy of http://www.iranalliances.org).

Dear All,

Greetings from the beautiful Turkish island of Buyuk Ada on the sea of Marmara where there are no cars and plenty of lively seagulls. The summer had been so busy that when I got to the island, I gave everything a break including the Windows. But I just can’t resist sending you at least one message from this very peaceful and lovely place where the last thing you would like to do is following the news.  I must confess that it is refreshing not to have Iran in the headlines.

This will be a shorter window and I owe much of its content to Behrooz, Matt, Bahar, and Joy. Please forgive me if you have written and I have not responded yet, or if I am not acknowledging your contribution properly.

While I was here watching seagulls and a little piece that I wrote earlier called “Banishing the Ghosts of Iran,” appeared in the Chronicle of Higher Education. I hope this link gets you to it if you like to read the piece:
http://chronicle.com/weekly/v53/i45/45b00601.htm

And now to the Window 34:

Let’s hope more of this happens:

I want to start with the delightful story of the Israeli who made an accidental visit to Iran. One can only hope that more of this happens:
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/travel/2003696866_webisraeliran07.html

Iranian Jews Speak Up:

Maurice Motamed (or, Morris Motamed), who is the only Jewish MP in the Iranian Parliment, called the offers of large cash rewards for Jewish immigration from Iran to Israel insulting. The Jewish community in Iran is the largest in the Middle East outside of Israel and dates back to at least 700BCE.

Maurice Motamed (or, Morris Motamed), who is the only Jewish MP in the Iranian Parliment, called the offers of large cash rewards for Jewish immigration from Iran to Israel "insulting." The Jewish community in Iran is the largest in the Middle East outside of Israel and dates back to at least 700BCE.

Iranian Jews say their Iranian identity is not for sale:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/iran/story/0,,2125486,00.html

Current Issues:

An interesting piece for those who read about the Iranian government acting paranoid in relation the “regime change” issue: New Iran Regime Change Think Tank Opens in DC
http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/070607S.shtml
Another very interesting analytical essay about Iran:
http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature/2006/07/next_we_take_tehran.html?src=email&hed_20070716_ts1_nextwetaketehran

Iranian Women

As the news of the recent intensification of restrictions on women’s clothing – and demonstrations – get out of Iran, it is important to keep in mind that – despite these problems – Iranian women continue to maintain a lively presence in all spheres of life:

110 Iranian women bikers from 22 teams compete for national titles in Iran. I won’t make a slide show of this because it makes it harder on your computers. Just scroll down for pictures of the competitions (even if you can’t read the Persian captions):
http://www.baztab.ir/news/70794.php

Iranian women musicians were honored last week. Again, please scroll down for images. This time the article is in English:
http://www.payvand.com/news/07/jul/1066.html

Iranian womens group Saman-Buyan (director Elham Kazemi) performing at the Vahdat Hall in Tehran during the two day Womens Music Festival The Sound of Kindness in July 2007.

Iranian women's group Saman-Buyan (director Elham Kazemi) performing at the Vahdat Hall in Tehran during the two day Women's Music Festival "The Sound of Kindness" in July 2007.

Iranian Americans Get Together:

Young Iranian Americans got together in a summer camp for “fellowship,” “sharing” and learning about the Persian concept of ta’arof. Thank you Joy for sharing this fun piece about Iranians:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/06/AR2007070601974.html

A photo from the Around the Campfire summer camp for young Iranian Americans.

A photo from the "Around the Campfire" summer camp for young Iranian Americans (image courtesy of The Washington Post).

Faces of Iran

And a clip with literally hundreds of faces from Iran. It is under ten minutes and well worth seeing:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OjtGr1Qqhng

Hope to be sending you new Windows from St. Louis soon.

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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Windows on Iran 26

The Alborz Mountains of northern Iran, with Mt. Damavand (the tallest mountain in Iran) rising in the distance (see below for many more incredible photos of Irans natural beauty).

The Alborz Mountains of northern Iran, with Mt. Damavand (the tallest mountain in Iran) rising in the distance (see below for many more incredible photos of Iran's natural beauty).

Dear All,

Yes, we missed a window altogether! The semester is coming to an end with lots of activity including course preparations, visits by the last speakers of the academic year, departmental duties, etc. My friend Alice Bloch and I had a repeat performance of “The Watching Heart: A Journey in Peace,” our Dance/Reading for Peace, last Friday on Washington University campus. A wonderful audience gave us a great response.

A few of you approached me with e-mail addresses of friends to be added to this list. Anywhere I go now, someone has a kind word about the Windows on Iran. I cannot thank you enough for your enthusiastic support. If you handed me a friend’s address after our performance but they did not yet receive this window, I apologize. The safest way is to reply to this message and give me the addresses you want to add.

Let’s get to the first item on Window 26 without further delay. I am working on reducing visual attachments with links so as not to make it hard for your home computers.

Iranian Musician Nominated for the Grammy Award

Grammy-nominated musician Hussain Alizadeh.

Grammy-nominated Iranian musician Hussain Alizadeh.

* Here is a good way to open any window! Listen to Lisa Mullins of PRI, The World, talking with Hussain Alizadeh the Iranian musician who was nominated for a Grammy Award for the third time. The clip is about 8 minutes long and includes a discussion of music as well as actual playing. The clip was sent to me by my friend Fariba Azarpour:
http://www.theworld.org/?q=taxonomy_by_date/2/20070404

Noushin Ahmadi Khorasani protesting for womens rights in Iran.

Noushin Ahmadi Khorasani, winner of the "Best Research Book on Women" in Iran award, is an activist, journalist, and translator. She is an editor of the journals Jens-i Dovom and Fasl-i Zanan and helped establish both the Women's Cultural Center and the Feminist Tribune.

The Iranian Women’s Movement

* Despite pressure from the Iranian government, the feminist movement in Iran is alive and well. So are its chroniclers inside and outside Iran. My friend Nayereh Tohidi has just sent word on this year’s winner of “the Best Research Book on Women” in Iran. Thank you Nayereh Jan! The prize has gone to the Persian translation by Noushin Ahmadi Khorasani – herself a noted feminist – of the book The Women’s Rights Movement in Iran: Mutiny, Appeasement, and Repression by Eliz Sanasarian Professor of Political Science, USC College. Congratulations to the author, translator, and the tireless Iranian feminists working in Iran! I have an additional reason to be delighted. Years ago Eliz and I were highschool friends in Shiraz.


More Visual delight on Iran, on the occasion of Nowruz

* The Iranian New Year celeberations usually end on the 13th day of the first month in the Iranian calendar Farvardin (Farvardin 1st usually corresponds to March 21st). The 13th day of the New Year is called Sizdah Bedar. On that day, the entire country is out picnicing. Here, the Iranian American community holds onto the nostalgic feelings revived with Nowruz celeberations for some time. Slides and clips about Iran keep circulating. Here is a short video of scenes from Iran: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PpdkC0XuSaY

* Since our last window, Iran has released the 15 captured Britons. You
know all the news there is to know about this incident by now. So,
instead of news headlines, I give you an interesting analysis of the
situation written jointly by Vali Nasr, a professor at the Naval
Postgraduate School and author of The Shia Revival: How Conflicts
Within Islam Will Shape the Future
, and Ray Takeyh, a senior fellow
at the Council on Foreign Relations and author of Hidden Iran:
Paradox and Power in the Islamic Republic
. Both authors are very
familiar with the region and have impressive academic credentials.
They have called their essay “What We Can Learn From Britain About
Iran?” here is the link:
http://www.worldaffairsboard.com/iranian-question/38127-what-we-can-learn-britain-about-iran.html

More Visual Information about Iran

* A nice slide show of natural scenery distributed by my friend Bahar
Bastani: http://youtube.com/watch?v=oHEkSFPB9nk&mode=related&search=

A beautiful garden in Esfahan (Isfahan) (click on the youtube video above to see many more breath-taking photos from Iran, from the Persian Gulf to the Alborz Mountains).

A beautiful garden in Esfahan (Isfahan) (click on the youtube video above to see many more breath-taking photos from Iran, from the Persian Gulf to the Alborz Mountains).

* A clip on an exhibition in the British Museum about the ancient
Persian empire. The film underlines cooperation between Iranians and
Britons…perhaps a good antidote to the recent movie “300”. The clip
was sent by my friend Behfar Dianati:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9tBfD-d2fc&mode=related&search

The Cyrus Cylinder--the worlds first declaration of human rights.

The Cyrus Cylinder (539BCE)--the world's first declaration of human rights, which among other things allowed for religious freedom in the territories that he conquered.

* And a neat short film on paragliding by an Iranian pilot posted on
youtube from Tehran:
http://youtube.com/watch?v=co5Tg6Utyd8&mode=related&search=

More on Current Issues:

* My friend Nadir Sadeqi – of CASMII – continues to disseminate
information in an effort to stop sanction and/or military action
against Iran. Here is a list he has put together on recent attempts by
the British and the U.S. to conduct covert operations in Iran (of
particular interest to those who migh have wondered why the Iranians
might have felt defensive about the British in Iranian waters):
http://www.campaigniran.org/casmii/index.php?q=node/1810
* On a different note, the US seems to be working to build a
relationship with Iranians:
http://usinfo.state.gov/xarchives/display.html?p=washfile-english&y=2007&m=March&x=20070330105645ndyblehs0.7631647&id=nl20070404

* Can the release of the Britons help us understand the political moves
of the current Iranian government?
http://www1.wsvn.com/news/articles/world/MI43786/

Last Visual Delight:

A Painting by Nargis Chalak (click on the link below for more of her work).

A Painting by Nargis Chalak (click on the link below for more of her work).

* I said there will be fewer attachments. But we can’t close this window without the time honored tradition of visiting a young Iranian painter. Click here for some beautiful works by Nargis Chalak: Nargis Chalak Art Show.  I wish you all a very nice 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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Windows on Iran 23

The historical Persian King Xerxes(above), who bares no resemblence to the offensive depiction of him in the Hollywood movie 300. See below for more on this movie and its historically inaccurate portrayal of King Xerxes and the Persian Empire.

The real historical Persian King Xerxes (above), who, notice, bares absolutely no resemblance to the bizarre and, ultimately, offensive depiction of him in the Hollywood movie '300.' See below for more on this movie and its grossly historically inaccurate portrayal of Xerxes and the Persian Empire in general.

Dear Friends,

It is a pleasure to open another window, one that greets the Spring. Iranians everywhere in the world are now busy preparing for Nowrouz, the Persian New Year, 1386! For my Nowrouz gift to you, click here: Nowrouz (the Iranian New Year celebration). I hope it gives you a fun visual tool for teaching about Nowrouz. Happy Nowrouz/spring to you All.
I receive daily requests to subscribe to this list. Thank you for your interest. Please allow us a day or two before getting your first window.  If you have been added to the list by mistake, please write us a short message and we will take you off.
Hollywood’s Nowrouz Gift to Iranians

A scene from the movie 300. Far from being a harmless Hollywood thriller, this movie is a blatant piece of propaganda that contains numerous historic inaccuracies that all conveniently serve to demonize the Persians and glorify Sparta (the symbol of the Western, free world). Please click on the link to Dr. Touraj Daryaees critique for comprehensive analysis.

A scene from the movie "300," with a utterly bizarre and distinctly 'othering' depiction of the Persian King Xerxes (right) and King Leonidas (left). Far from being a harmless Hollywood thriller, this movie is a blatant propaganda piece that contains numerous historical inaccuracies which all conveniently serve to simultaneously demonize the Persians and glorify the Spartans (the symbol of the Western, free world). Please click on the link below to read Dr. Touraj Daryaee's superb critique of '300.'

* If you are an Iranian, you will have a hard time deciding which misrepresentation of yourself to expose! This year it has been made easy for Iranians. They get their New Year’s gift in the form an ominous movie called “300” that portrays Persians / Iranians as “inarticulate monsters, raging towards the West, trying to rob its people of their basic values.” The movie “demeans the population of Iran and anesthetizes the American population to war in the Middle East” in the words of Touraj Daryaee, Professor of Ancient History (Californian State U., Fullerton). In a review essay called: “Go tell Spartans How “300” misrepresents Persians in history,” Prof. Daryaee critiques the movie eloquently. For example, in the movie, the historical quote “We are the mothers of men,” is addressed to a Persian brute (obviously blind to gender issues). According to Daryaee, this sentence had nothing to do with Persians, but rather was part of a completely Greek debate on the position of women, regarding the fact that Athenian women were forced to stay in the andron (inner sanctum of the house) so that their reputations would not be tarnished. Spartan women were different than the Athenian women, but Persian women of this period had more freedoms than either the Spartans or Athenians and not only participated in politics, but also joined the army, owned property, and ran businesses.

1-21).

A more historically faithful depiction of the Persian King Xerxes (or, also a times referred to as 'Ahasuerus' ) with his Jewish wife Esther (of the 'Book of Esther' in the Hebrew Scriptures fame, see Esther I: 1-21).

As a New Year’s gift to the Iranian Community, please share Prof. Daryaee’s excellent critique of the movie with students, friends, and relatives. It might feel as if we are trying to carve a tunnel in a huge mountain with a plastic spoon. But every single person counts. My thanks to Zari Taheri for sharing this valuable link:
http://www.iranian.com/Daryaee/2007/March/300/index.html

A Threat to All of us!

Perhaps influenced by movies of the above kind, a couple of days ago Senator Obama gave his Nowrouz gift to the Iranians by calling Iran “a threat to all of us.” An astonishingly vague, and dangerous, assertion. Please note that in the past fifty years or so, American politicians have worked to persuade the public that: Korea, Vietnam, Cuba, Chile, Panama, Nicaragua, Libya, Afghanistan, and Iraq were all threats to American and world security. Magically, Saudi Arabia, which produced the majority of the 9/11 hijackers, sponsors Wahhabism, and prevents its own women from driving on the streets, appears not to be a threat.

Chaharshanbe Suri

We need a break. How about watching a ‘dangerous’ Iranian family
celebrating a pre-Nowrouz event in their neighborhood? It is done on
the last Wednesday of the year by jumping over fire while asking for
its symbolic “color and warmth.” Click here: Chaharshanbeh Suri.

Nowrouz (the Iranian New Year celebration) Haftsin (click on the Nowrouz link above for more details).

A Nowrouz (the Iranian New Year celebration) Haftsin (click on the Nowrouz link above for more details).

Regime Change

* I know this is supposed to be a New Year Window. Still, Iranians are
celebrating it with talk of regime change in the background. The
concept is familiar. The people of Chile experienced it. In fact, they
had their own September 11 tragedy with an almost similar number of
casualties (3,000). On September 11, 1973  a CIA sponsored General
Augusto Pinochet conducted a coup, seized total power, and established
a military dictatorship which lasted until 1990. At the time of his
death in 2006, around 300 criminal charges in Chile were still pending
against Pinochet for human rights abuses and embezzlement during his
rule.

* I want to share an Iranian regime change with you that took place in
early 1950s. A democratically elected Iranian prime minister Mohammad
Mosaddeq (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mossadegh)  worked to nationalize
the Iranian oil industry that had been under the control of a British
company. The contracts gave Iranians next to nothing while the British
were laughing all the way to the bank. Mosaddeq was overthrown in a
joint British-American coup. Here is what the American people read on
August 6, 1954 in a New York Times’ editorial: “Underdeveloped
countries with rich resources now have an object lesson in the heavy
cost that must be paid by one of their number [Iran] which goes
berserk with fanatical nationalism.” There is another lesson in the
overthrow of Mosaddeq, one that the New York times editorial does not
mention. Be skeptical when people are presented to you as “fanatical.”
They may simply be trying to take control of their own resources. Here
is a suggested reading on this regime change if you like to see a
detailed analysis:

Mark J. Gasiorowski and Malcolm Byrne, Mohammad Mosaddeq and the 1953
Coup in Iran: A Joint U.S.-British Regime Change Operation in 1953
that Holds Lessons for Today
(Syracuse University Press, 2004).
http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB126/index.htm

Iranian Americans on Stage

* You have not been really integrated into a culture unless people can
laugh at you! Iranian American standing comedians are working on that.
Here is a clip from Maz Jobrani sent by my friend Hayrettin Yocesoy.
Thanks Hayrettin, this is culturally interesting, and funny too:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ADU1lhEb1X0&mode=related&search

* Iranian Americans are getting themselves on another kind of stage too,
that of American politics. Beverly Hills eyes Jimmy Delshad, an
Iranian American, for mayor. Here is the report, if you like to read
more: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=7770255&ft=1&f=1003

Headlines in Iran

Iran has been ready to suspend uranium enrichment, although, not as a
pre-condition to negotiations. The former Iranian president Mohammad
Khatami urged Iran to compromise on the nuclear issue to avoid further
crisis: http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20070312/wl_afp/irannuclearpolitics_070312113740

Visual Delight

A painting by Nilufar Baghaei (click on the link to the left for more!).

A painting by Nilufar Baghaei (click on the link to the left for more!).

Let’s see if we can revive the spirit of Nowrouz through meeting another delightful visual artist. This is a young Iranian painter and graphic artist, Nilufar Baghaei (b. 1969). Nilufar’s work is heavily inspired by children’s drawings the themes of which she explores creatively and colorfully. There you are, three themes most relevant to Nowrouz: children, creativity, and color.  To Watch Nilufar Baghaei’s art show, click here Nilufar Baghaei Art, enjoy!

Have a great spring, and see you next 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
==================================

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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
==================================

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The cropped (Left) and real (Right) picture from the front cover of Azar Nafisis Reading Lolita in Tehran.

The cropped (Left) and real (Right) picture from the front cover of Azar Nafisi's "Reading Lolita in Tehran" (see below for further explanation).

Dear Friends, Greetings,

First:
We have grown too large for a group email list! This is wonderful news
but has a practical implication: I must turn the “Window on Iran” into a
listserv. My colleagues at the university computing services will kindly
assist me in doing so. I am happy with the change because in a listserv
your names and addresses will be safer from possible spam users and you
can unsubscribe at will. I will soon send you the initial message of the
listserv. IF YOU DO NOT RECEIVE THAT MESSAGE NEXT WEEK, PLEASE E-MAIL ME
TO MAKE SURE THAT YOUR ADDRESS HAS NOT BEEN DELETED IN THE TRANSITION.

Second:
Apparently, my link to Professor Inhorn’s excellent article on Iran in
which she observes:  “The Iran I encountered is far from the medieval
theocracy often portrayed in American media” did not work. If you did
not get my “correction” message, here is the link again:
http://www.sph.umich.edu/news_events/pdf/inhorn%20iran.pdf

And now to this week’s Window on Iran:

Current issues

* Iranian chief nuclear negotiator’s statement that Iran reserves
the right to continue its nuclear program “only under UN
inspection” was presented in American and British papers as
“Iran’s defiance of the UN resolution.”
* 15 day visas of about 40 American educated Iranian scientists
arriving in the U.S. last week to participate in a university
reunion in Northern California were revoked last minute without
explanation. Some were held overnight in what one described to a
friend in a brief phone call as “jail conditions” before being
sent  back to Iran.

Science

* Iranian scientists in a Tehran fertility clinic cloned a sheep
successfully. Although the sheep died soon after birth, this first
cloning in the Middle East was hailed by the world media as a
great breakthrough. Iranian scientists described with excitement
the history of their cloning experiments on mice and cow:
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/1874227.cms It may
come as a surprise to you that Iran’s cloning program, like its
work on embryonic stem cell research, has the blessing of the
country’s religious authorities.

Social/Cultural

* This week I would like to introduce you to one of the most
prominent poets of twentieth-century Iran: Simin Behbahani. Known
as the “Lioness of Iran,” Behbahani has remained an ardent
defender of human rights, free speech, and women’s rights. She
spoke against war and violence even as the Iran-Iraq war raged in
the 1980s. Currently President of The Iranian Writers’
Association, Behbahani has published 12 collections of poems and
has stayed in the public eye before, during, and after the 1979
revolution defying all forms of totalitarianism. Behbahani was
nominated for the Nobel Prize in literature in 1997. For a short
biography of Simin Behbahni, please click on the first link below.
And go to the second link to view the “Lioness” in action, and her
pronounced fashion statements!
o http://www.iranchamber.com/literature/sbehbahani/simin_behbahani.php
o http://www.payvand.com/news/05/aug/1105.html

* Most of you have read, or heard of, the book that vilified
most Iranian men and victimized the majority of Iranian women, the
bestseller Reading Lolita in Tehran. The cover of the book depicts
two young Iranian girls with downcast eyes hinting at the
unlikelihood of an active intellectual life. The picture, above
this post, is actually of two girls active in the
Iranian general elections (notice Khatami’s poster in the
background) reading a newspaper.

Have a great weekend!
Fatemeh Keshavarz
========================
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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