EUME Berliner Seminar
Mi 19 Jun 2024 | 17:00–18:30

Allegories of the Nation During Social Upheavals: From a Dead Motherland to the Rise of National Daughters

Mina Khanlarzadeh (EUME Fellow 2023/24), Chair: Fatemeh Shams (University of Pennsylvania / EUME-CNMS Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation 2021-24)

Forum Transregionale Studien, Wallotstr. 14, 14193 Berlin

This presentation explores the allegorical representation of Iran as a deceased female figure in cultural texts and resistance narratives across pivotal periods of social upheaval, from the early twentieth century to the present. Building on existing scholarship on the gendering of the nation in Iranian nationalist discourses, this research analyzes how the nation is depicted as both a geobody and an imagined community during key historical moments, including the Constitutional Revolution, the 1953 coup, the 1979 Revolution, the post-Reform era (beginning in 1997), and the Women, Life, Freedom Movement. By tracing the shifting national narratives and their articulation of political urgencies, the study reveals how these representations dynamically deconstruct and rewrite stories of belonging and gender norms amidst changing social and political conditions. Ultimately, these cultural texts illustrate a shift from masculinist nationalist discourses towards a growing awareness of gender justice. The presentation will highlight the transformation of women’s roles within these narratives, from passive symbols of the motherland to active “national daughters” engaged in shaping the nation’s social fabric.

Mina Kanlarzadeh is a historian specializing in the contemporary Middle East. She earned her Ph.D. from Columbia University and is currently a EUME fellow. Previously, she was a postdoctoral scholar at Northwestern University’s School of Education and Social Policy, where she co-authored a forthcoming book with MIT University Press on the intersection of science, education, and politics. Her research spans gender and sexuality studies, critical theory, global political thought, literary studies, and Islamic studies. Her work has been published in journals such as Religions and Popular Music and Society, among others.

Fatemeh Shams is a Humboldt Foundation-EUME fellow and associate professor of Persian literature at University of Pennsylvania. She received her doctoral degree in Middle Eastern Studies from University of Oxford. Her work focuses on the intersection of literature, society, and politics. Her first monograph, A Revolution in Rhyme: Poetic Co-Option Under the Islamic Republic (Oxford University Press, 2021) is the first comprehensive study of the intersection of poetry and politics in post-revolutionary Iran. It charts the evolution of poetry and patronage in the Persian literary tradition with specific focus on the post-revolutionary Iran and the role of state-sponsored literary institutions and the ideological state apparatus in the formation of official literature. She is currently working on her next monograph which is the first comprehensive study of modern Persian poetry of exile.


Please note that the Berliner Seminar will take place on-site at the Forum Transregionale Studien. We kindly ask for prior registration via eume(at) Depending on approval by the speaker(s), the Berliner Seminar will be recorded. All audio recordings of the Berliner Seminar are available on SoundCloud.

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