Looking for Ethnicity in Iran

A lecture by Rasmus Christian Elling, Copenhagen University

The question of ethnic and national identity constitutes a highly complex and controversial topic in Iran, and only recently have scholars questioned Persian-centrist, majoritarian or nationalist bias in Iranian historiography and research. One example of this critique is in Rasmus Christian Elling's recent book "Minorities in Iran: Nationalism and Ethnicity after Khomeini" (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013). A key finding from this book is that while it can be more or less easy to identify particular ethnic or religious minorities, it is not altogether easy to identify a particular majority in Iran: indeed, who are the Persians? How do Iranian scholars challenge Western frameworks for studying ethnicity? And why are many Iranians opposed to the use of certain terminology such as "minority"? In this talk, Elling will discuss theoretical and practical aspects of studying ethnicity in Iran today and in history.

Rasmus Christian Elling is Assistant Professor at the Institute for Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies (TORS) at Copenhagen University, Denmark. He holds a PhD in Iranian Studies and has studied and lived in Iran, Istanbul and New York. His PhD has been published as 'Minorities in Iran: Nationalism and Ethnicity after Khomeini' (Palgrave Macmillan 2013), and he has published several articles on ethnicity, nationalism and identity politics in post-revolutionary Iran. In 2011-2012, he worked as a Research Associate at The School for Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London, and he is associated with the Anglo-German research project 'Urban Violence in the Middle East'. His current research focus is on the urban history of Abadan, a topic on which he is writing a book. Rasmus Christian Elling teaches Middle Eastern and Iranian history, politics and sociology at Copenhagen University, and is fluent in Persian.

Co-sponsored by UCLA Program of Iranian Studies, Samuel Jordan Center for Persian Studies and Culture of UCI, With the Support of the Jahangir and Eleanor Amuzegar Chair in Iranian Studies

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Duration: 34:14


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Published: Tuesday, July 15, 2014