MESA: Whither the Iranian Diaspora? Methodological Questions for Activists and Scholars

When:  Sunday, November 21, 1:30-3:30pm
Where: Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego, CA
Middle East Studies Association (MESA) Annual Convention. With presentations by: Mehdi Bozorgmehr (City University of New York); Babak Elahi (Rochester Institute of Technology); Persis Karim (San Jose State University); Amy Malek (UCLA); Nasrin Rahimieh (UC Irvine)

This thematic conversation offers an opportunity for scholars and activists to meet and address the question of an Iranian “diaspora”–the term used increasingly by the Iranian-American community today to refer to itself both publicly and privately. We will address questions such as: How does “diaspora” bring together disparate communities of Iran-identified individuals living outside of Iran, and what are the consequences of conceiving of oneself as part of an “Iranian diaspora”? What cache does the idea of diaspora have in Iranian immigrant communities outside of the US? Does this term operate primarily in a political (or cultural) sense? What role has diaspora scholarship within the subfield of Iranian and/or Middle East Studies played in helping to cement a stronger sense of political unity and/or visibility among Iranians living in host cultures (and vice-versa)? Have recent events in Iran–the June 2009 elections and the development of the Green Movement–also renewed interest in the idea of a diasporic connection between Iranians in the host and home countries?

This is the first meeting of what will be an ongoing thematic conversation at the next two MESA conventions (the 2011 convention will be held in Washington, D.C.). It is free and open to the public–no registration is required to attend this session. We warmly welcome participation from the Iranian-American community as well as from local scholars and individuals interested in these questions.

For more information, please contact Amy Motlagh (amotlagh@aucegypt.edu).

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