Transcultural Interplay through Art and Social Life: Iranian Diaspora in Europe and beyond

Країна: Германія

Місто: Paderborn

Тези до: 22.12.2018

Дати: 25.06.19 — 27.06.19

Е-мейл Оргкомітету:

Організатори: Paderborn University


The ‘Iranian Diaspora’ is extremely varied. Like Iran itself, which is a very diverse country, the worldwide phenomenon of the ‘Iranian Diaspora’ is a very heterogeneous and complex reality that in certain cases can and, of course, should be seen in relation to, on the one hand, the heading of ‘exile’ and, on the other, the heading of ‘Islam’, but which cannot be reduced or equated to these headings. It is rather the expression of a very dense and multiform phenomenon involving multiple generations, the members of which experience ‚exile’, ‚Islam’, and ‚Iran’ differently.

The main concern and quest of the conference will be to depict and reflect whether, how and where the phenomenon ‘Iranian Diaspora’ becomes visible, audible, comprehensible and thinkable within the arts of the countries where this diaspora is to be found and also through these arts within the social life of these countries. In the same way it might be of interest to compare the outputs of the different ‘Iranian Diasporic Arts’ and to examine the extent to which these outputs may be connected through the Diaspora itself.

Paramount for this conference will be the analysis of artistic productions that – as far as they work with language – are produced in the language of the respective country where they are being or have been generated. So the conference will not be about works produced in Farsi or any other language spoken in Iran or about works produced in Iran itself. However, the investigations can of course take into consideration works that are, for instance, bilingually produced in the sphere or space of the Diaspora.[1] In order to get noticed and also be able to discuss and exchange with the society of the country where the respective Diaspora is situated, the use of the native language or languages that are spoken in the particular country is a prerequisite. Transcultural facets are of course also expressed in works produced in Farsi in the Diaspora (and in order to reveal these facets, translations can of course be used!), but the conference will, as outlined, be in particular dedicated to those endeavours which do not use Farsi (or any other language spoken in Iran). The focus will be upon artistic productions which can be received both on the diasporic side and from the point of view of the primarily addressed ‘host’ country.

Particular attention shall be paid to those aspects which ‘narrate’ the ‘Transitive’: the interrelations of cultural affiliation or ‘belonging’ and therefore the permeability and hybridity of cultural spaces as well as exchange-creating mobility and its psychodynamics which are etiologically inherent to the idea of human ‘culture’ and ‘identity’ as well as of life-as-movement. The aim will be the questioning, scrutinising and uncovering involved in rendering visible and audible the commingling of self(hood) and other(hood), of attributions and ascriptions and their acceptance or refusal. 

The main focus is deliberately placed upon the Iranian Diaspora in Europe, especially in relation to the transcultural interplay in European societies. It is placed upon the diversity and heterogeneity of the artistic output of this diaspora, but also upon what this diaspora might – as the case may be – artistically hold as a common peculiarity, feature or even idiosyncrasy across country, genre and language borders, within Europe and beyond. In this regard, one central question is the following: How does this diaspora (artistically) ‘negotiate’ its ‘own/foreign (foreign to itself) identity’ and accordingly what role do the arts assume in the process?

Research into similar topics is already more prevalent in the extra-European English-speaking world, especially in the USA and Australia. At the same time, in the non-European English-speaking worlds, this research always strongly or even exclusively keeps the focus upon artistic works of the Iranian Diaspora produced in English (only). We hope, then, to bring together researchers from all over Europe and beyond in order to stimulate a vivid exchange. Another goal of the conference is to foster interconnectedness of those who work in these or similar fields of research. Thanks to the multilingual and multicultural European reality, a coming together of scientists from across Europe promises numerous new insights, findings and discoveries. But we are of course, as already said, also very much interested in contributions from or about the Iranian Diaspora in other countries and parts of the world.

The heart of the conference’s ambition is to deepen the notion of the Transcultural in relation to ‘Iranian’ artistic matters – in this sense, the conference is meant to act as a trigger to long-term activity in this field. Emphasis is put on investigations into the richness and complexity of artistic expression and the reciprocal effects and correlations that can be observed between the arts and in social life generally.

The objects and fields of research with their respective methods which might be of particular importance are therefore kept deliberately wide.

For this reason, the following objects and/or areas of investigation are proposed:

Artists and artistic works from the fields of Literature, Theatre, Music, Dance, Performance, Film, Painting, Drawing, Illustration, Installation as well as ways of thinking from the fields of Literature, Theatre, Performance, Media and Culture Studies, History of Art,  Sociology and Sociology as well as Pedagogy of Religion, Anthropology/Ethnology, Philosophy and Psychology, Political Studies which examine the correlations of art, civil society, history and politics, Gender Studies, Geo-Humanities, Sociolinguistics and Exile and Migration Studies.

Further ideas

The following directions, fields and problematics may also be examined throughout the conference:

  • The dynamics (alterations and changes) inherent in all ‘cultural’ happenings: these dynamics are always transculturally at work and therefore infiltrate and undermine all ‘absolute’ or ‘definite’ border markings.
  • How does Iranian Diaspora Art influence the cultural dynamics of the individual countries in which artists are active? And conversely: how does the culture in-situ, within which the creations take place, influence the ‘Iranian’ moment of a (specific) work or of works? How real is fiction here and how fictional is reality? Or rather what is the relation between these two terms? Especially the questioning of the autobiographical may be of particular interest here.
  • In this context, what happens to a notion like ‘home’ or ‘homeland’, what does it become? In this regard, is the relation to Iran activated (on purpose) or instead not? How does it come into effect? How do transcultural interactions find expression in the arts (and through the arts in social life)? And what, besides, are the subject matters that are dealt with in the art works? And by what kinds of procedure, for instance, by what kind of marking of the multi-layer and multi-faceted nature of things are subjects tackled? And can the examined art works be seen, read or heard as ‘identity givers’, and if so, for whom and to what extent is this the case and of what kind is the given identity?

These considerations lead us to the following points and questions:

  • To the unsolvable contradiction of cultures as identity givers[2] and cultures as phenomena of mixture and mingling which continually influence and change identities.
  • To transcultural interactions: the question of self-awareness and the description, depiction and image of self and other. How Iranian is the Iranian Diaspora and how is the Iranian Diaspora shown through the mirror of the arts? Who draws these comparisons or conclusions and how is it done? What of the ambient Non-Iranian culture is echoed? How do artists who can be or are counted among the Iranian Diaspora (or who count themselves among it or who refuse to be counted among it, or who get counted among it by others) – how do (these) artists use cultural realities in order to realise and/or render the Iranian or their dissociation from it? Finally, these topics may in particular be ones which might not be realises or rendered in Iran itself.
  • Mutual intercultural influences and enrichments are of particular interest here, in their coming to be, their specificities and also questions such as the following: to what extent does the ‘Non-Iranian’ of the societies in situ become a carrier of the ‘Iranian (Diaspora)’?
  • What does Diaspora actually mean, especially with regard to Iran?
  • Which aesthetic approaches are used in the various art works in order to express transcultural circumstances and/or raise them for discussion? In what relation are, for instance, aesthetics and ethics held here? How political is art in these cases, and is this intentionally or unintentionally so?
  • In the present case of the Iranian Diaspora, it can be assumed that at the conference the questioning of the relations between art, culture and politics will now and again come up. To what extent are Iranian politics mirrored in the respective artistic works and/or to what extent do these works deal with political conditions in Iran?
  • Is – for the diasporic art works of our Studies – the application of postcolonial theories and methods of thinking possible, appropriate and meaningful and if so, in what way and to what extent?

These suggested areas of investigation only sketch possible perspectives and fields of reflection and are not of course exhaustive.

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