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Art Women Artists

Women, Art, and Literature in the Iranian Diaspora

by (author) Mehraneh Ebrahimi

Syracuse University Press
Initial publish date
May 2019
Women Artists, Middle Eastern, Feminist
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    May 2019
    List Price

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Does the study of aesthetics have tangible effects in the real world? Does examining the work of diaspora writers and artists change our view of “the Other?? In this thoughtful book, Ebrahimi argues that an education in the humanities is as essential as one in politics and ethics, critically training the imagination toward greater empathy. Despite the surge in Iranian memoirs, their contributions to debunking an abstract idea of terror and their role in encouraging democratic thinking remain understudied. In examining creative work by women of Iranian descent, Ebrahimi argues that Shirin Neshat, Marjane Satrapi, and Parsua Bashi make the Other familiar and break a cycle of reactionary xenophobia. These authors, instead of relying on indignation, build imaginative bridges in their work that make it impossible to blame one evil, external enemy. Ebrahimi explores both classic and hybrid art forms, including graphic novels and photo-poetry, to advocate for the importance of aesthetics to inform and influence a global community. Drawing on the theories of Rancière, Butler, Arendt, and Levinas, Ebrahimi identifies the ways in which these works give a human face to the Other, creating the space and language to imagine a new political and ethical landscape.

About the author

Contributor Notes

Mehraneh Ebrahimi is assistant professor of English at York University where she teaches courses in diaspora and world literature. Her research focus is on Middle Eastern literature in light of the ongoing "war on terror".

Editorial Reviews

Ebrahimi’s compelling analysis of graphic novels, photography, and film by diasporic Iranian women offers a refreshing perspective on how artistic expression disrupts the vilification and dehumanization of Iranians. At the intersection of the aesthetic, political, and ethical she locates new means of bonding across a seemingly unbridgeable divide.

Nasrin Rahimieh, author of Iranian Culture: Representation and Identity

This is an ambitious, sharply political argument about the urgent stakes of representation that maintains a laser-sharp focus on detail when discussing the individual works in both their textual and visual registers.

Iranian Studies

Ebrahimi’s book adds to expanding the field of Iranian diaspora studies, as it tackles the relationship between aesthetics and politics through a liberatory lens. Given our current political moment, works such as Ebrahimi’s are a welcome addition to thinking through the subversive potential of cultural representation in the Iranian diaspora.

International Journal of Middle East Studies

This book makes an important contribution to cultural studies in that it steers us away from only making a paranoid critique of our world and instead reaches to the possibility of ethical democracy.

Dina Georgis, author of The Better Story: Queer Affects from the Middle East