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Posts Tagged ‘Zannegar’

Dear All,

Greetings and best wishes for a restful weekend! St. Louis has been rainy for the past few days its magnificent trees bursting into a beautiful summery green. I am in awe of the trees around me after 25 years of living here (exactly as long as I lived in my hometown Shiraz in south west of Iran). Did I say Shiraz? Okay, let me give a few visual samples. Let’s start with seasonal change. In Shiraz, you can see the arrival of the spring in a matter of days:

The Eram garden, built in mid 19th cent. in Northern Shiraz, welcomes the spring!

While we are on short tour of Shiraz, you should definitely see another 19th century building, Nasir al-Molk school and mosque:

Nasir al-Molk’s stain glass windows are quite famous though perhaps not quite as well known as the blue tiles used in the Safavid mosques of Isfahan. May be we’ll look at buildings in Isfahan in another window.

The inner halls of mosques are cool and serene. Sometimes people just sit there to pray or meditate.

The name of this school is for me associated with the stories my father told us about his youth. He lived in the vicinity of the school and passed through this courtyard often.

The city of Shiraz now has a population of over two million, many sprawling urban areas, as well as pockets of old historical neighborhoods. Every time a new highrise goes up, I pray that it is not at the cost of a beautiful old building. Fortunately, Shiraz municipality has been good at preserving historic sites.

Politics: Nuclear Negotiations

There is every indication that this round of nuclear negotiations between Iran and the 5+1 (representatives of six countries – the United States, Russia, China, Germany, France and Britain) will be very different. The headlines I was reading in the Iranian newspapers last week sounded clear conciliatory notes, an indication that the public opinion in Iran is being prepared for compromises on the nuclear front.  The same readiness to overcome differences can be sensed in the comments made by the 5+1 team (though Western politicians continue to use a threatening language). Even the appearances and facial expressions look different on all sides. Sa’id Jalili, the Iranian chief negotiator arrived in Istanbul empowered as the special envoy of the Supreme Leader relaxed and smiling:

The Iranian chief nuclear negotiator who was viewed as uncompromising is rapidly reinventing himself as a smiling and skilled negotiator

To read more on what has happened in the very first round of the negotiations, read this Guardian article. For a real in-depth analysis of the political conflict between Iran and the United States, see this piece by Professor Juan Cole of Michigan University here.  The Huffington Post also has good piece on the Istanbul nuclear negotiations, here. Okay, let me now give you an overview of my observations about what is going on. What is different about this round of negotiations? First, the American side. I believe that President Obama is  very willing to go the extra mile to make the negotiations work this time because allowing for the oil embargo to come into full effect means another serious hike in the price of oil and a kind of gas price that no president would like to deal with during an election year. On the Iranian side, the sanctions have begun to hurt in a deeper way. Shortage of many things – including drugs – are being felt by a large segment of the population. Nonetheless, in my opinion, the Iranian change of approach to these negotiations is more the result of the new internal political dynamics which have consolidated the power of the Supreme Leader, Mr. Ali Khamenei, and left Mr. Ahmadinejad fairly week after the parliamentary elections in early March. There is every indication that Mr. Khamenei would like to solve – or at least reduce – the political tension between the two countries whereby revealing his superior diplomatic wisdom to that of Mr. Ahmadinejad’s uncompromising ways. With most reformist figures languishing in jail, and Ahmadinejad’s camp in disarray, the credit for any success in finding a diplomatic solution to the Iran/US conflict will clearly go to the Supreme Leader. This explains why Mr. Sa’id Jalili has been given the added title of the Supreme Leader’s special envoy.

Seymour Hersh’s Recent Report on Iran

Journalist Seymour Hersh has come forth again with recent revelations concerning American military secretly training an Iranian opposition group, which is on the State Department’s list of foreign terrorists, to carry out acts of sabotage inside Iran. Hersh reports the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command trained operatives from Mujahideen-e-Khalq, or MEK, at a secret site in Nevada beginning in 2005. Watch his interview with Amy Goodman of Democracy now, here.

An Auspicious Life Saving Coincidence

I have not seen this reported in the American media yet but Iranian media is reporting that an airplane belonging to an unspecified airline flying to the Arab Emirate had to make an emergency landing in Tehran airport because one of the passengers, an unnamed 52 year old American, going through a major heart condition needed immediate attention. According to the report, the passenger’s life was saved by the Iranian medics who rushed to the plane. He is currently under care in a Tehran cardiac hospital. Is this a lucky coincidence? Or, what?

The Third Issue of Zannegar is out!

The third issue of Zannegar, the electronic journal for women's studies scholars and activists is out.

Not so long ago I told you of the publication of Zannegar whose first issue focused on the intersection between gender and sexuality with science and technology, and  the second examined the women’s movement in its global context. The third issue published on April 7 focuses on Art and Culture from a feminist perspective. Do check out the latest issue of Zannegar here and share the news with interested friends, colleagues, students…

Musical Delight

I’d like to leave you with a beautiful duet sang by two of the greatest  living masters of classical Persian music, the vocalist Parisa and Master Hossein Omoumi, the composer, nay player and professor of music at UCI

Have a wonderful weekend,

Fatemeh

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Dear All,

Greetings from Washington University in St. Louis. It looks like we are in for a nice warm early spring in many parts of the country. I hope you are all well and your spring is arriving in a timely fashion wherever you are.

There is another celebration we have just left behind – the wonderful and festive March 8. So, a belated Happy Women’s Day to you all! The Iranian women sociologists celebrated the day with a speaking event in Tehran, here. Iranian Azari women activists celebrated the women’s day with a day of hiking, among other things! Here.

Iranian Azari Women celebrated women's day by organizing a hiking which included discussion of women's rights in the broader political context

Here, in the U.S., my totally amazing friend Safoura Nourbakhsh and a team of writers, translators and scholars just celebrated the Women’s Day with the publication of the second issue of their online publication Zannegar Journal. The journal is a great resource for academics and activists specializing in women’s studies who read Persian and work with that language. Congratulations to Safoura and friends. We look forward to future editions. In the mean time, do check out the first two issues here and don’t forget to share  the link with your Persian speaking friends.

Simin Daneshvar Dies on Women’s Day

In a rare coincidence, Simin Daneshvar, one of the greatest fiction writers of modern Iran, and one of the most articulate defenders of women’s rights, died at her home in Tehran in late hours on March 8th. Born on April 28, 1921 in the historic city of Shiraz (my own hometown), Daneshvar studied Persian literature with Dr. Sayyah (a woman Professor) and the great Iranian Rumi scholar Badi’uzzaman Forouzanfar and received her PhD in 1948 from Tehran University with a thesis focused on the treatment of beauty in Persian literature. Even though Daneshvar had started writing her own prose years earlier, her marriage in 1950 to Jalal Al-e Ahmad , the highly acclaimed and somewhat controversial, Iranian short story writer and social critic, at first appeared as a possibility of keeping her in the shadow of her well-known husband.

Daneshvar's marriage in 1950 to the acclaimed writer and social critic Jalal Al-e Ahmad could have kept her in the shadow of his accomplishments

In 1952, Daneshvar traveled to Stanford as a Fulbright fellow and studied creative writing with the American novelist and Pulitzer prize winner, Wallace Stegner. Later, Stegner who visited Daneshvar and Al-e Ahmad in Tehran, spoke of her in most moving terms. Below, I post a short video that Iranian students made in 2004 about Daneshvar’s visit in 1952 to Stanford. If you don’t speak Persian fast-forward to minute 4:55 where Stegner’s letter about Daneshvar is read in English:

Indeed the tragic death of Al-e Ahmad in 1969 (the same year in which Daneshvar published her major novel Savushun) could have overshadowed her literary achievement completely. In reality, with Savushun, which sold about half a million copies, Daneshvar established herself as one of the most articulate literary voices of the 20th century Iran.

In Savushun, which has been translated into 16 languages,Daneshvar tells the story of Iran during the second world war and Zari, a young woman who over comes her fears and finds her voice

For the English translations of Savushun and her other works, visit Payvand News, here. Daneshvar’s funeral was held in Tehran this afternoon. She was laid to rest in the segment of Behesht-e Zahra cemetery where many other Iranian writers, and artists are buried. For more pictures and a full report on the event, go here.

Hundreds of people walked to the Behesht-e Zahra cemetery where Daneshvar's body was laid to rest next to other Iranian writers and artists

To honor Simin Daneshvar and her legacy of freedom and dignity for all human beings, and to celebrate the recently passed Women’s Day, I would like to introduce to you a woman who is very much alive though sentenced to 11 years in jail for being an advocate for reform, women’s rights and human’s rights: Narges Mohammadi. A graduate in the field of physics and engineering, and an advocate for reform and human rights in Iran, Mohammadi was sentenced to eleven years in jail last September. Over forty women activists like her are in jail in Iran, as we celebrate Women’s Day this year. All highly educated and intelligent, none convicted of any crime other than their dedication to human dignity and freedom which is viewed as a security risk, and equated with spying for the enemy, at present. Read more about Narges Mohammadi, here.

Mohammadi's position as Deputy Chairperson for the Defenders of the Human Rights Center (DHRC) and her dedication to reform have been counted as ‘security crimes’ against her

A Brief Touch on Iran/Israel War Politic

I would really like to keep war politics out of this window. Somehow it should be dedicated totally to women. But I have come across a piece of exciting news which I would like to share with you. It is the kind that our media seem to always miss: nations’ reluctance to go to war.  In a poll conducted this month by Professor Shibley Telhami of the University of Maryland and Israel’s Dahaf Institute, only 19 percent of Israelis said they would support an Israeli unilateral military action against Iran. The poll would have likely made headlines if it were 60 or 70 percent in favor of such a military action. Let us hope the two nations leaders learn from their respective people. Read more about the poll here.

Visual Delight

Time for our visual delight before closing this window. I leave you with two beautiful painting of an Iranian woman artist Jamileh Vafakish. Have a great week,

Fatemeh

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