Reflecting on why and how to analyze Iran.


Narratives shape our reality. Discourses are often inspired by the narratives surrounding them. When conveyed through efficient means, narratives have the potential to shape and often change the ongoing discourse. The power of an idea is inextricably linked to the means one employs to convey it, a notion the Digital Humanities Internship comprehensively embodies. Using digitized, visual means to creatively convey a thoroughly researched idea, I am certain, will expose me to the skill set required to create an informed narrative, which in my case will be about Iranian politics vis a vis the United States.

At this crucial juncture in middle eastern politics, the two great civilizations, West and Persia, have managed to re establish diplomatic ties, a development that made Iran the subject of a number of conversations I had with my fellow students. In my personal experience of discussing Iran with the general public at Lafayette, there seems to be as much misinformed paranoia about Iran and Iranians as there is ill founded pity. My project will aim at surfacing, through an interactive timeline, the lesser known nuances of Iranian political history, her actions, domestic and foreign, that proved especially crucial with respect to the United States.  

As an avid admirer of Persian poetry and a student of middle eastern politics it aches me to see the rampant misinformation about a civilization as crucial as Iran. Iranians and their way of life are misunderstood by many, an unfortunate occurring to an incredibly endearing civilization. The birthplace of wine making that once boasted the most exquisite collection of Shirazi wines, home to the most enticing, invigorating tradition of poetry, Iran or Persia, enjoyed the rightly attributed reputation of a land devoted to mysticism, an image that underwent serious change after the Iranian revolution of 1979. From being famous for her exciting, accommodating customs, Iran is now assumed to be an ambassador of fanaticism, almost as if the world has forgotten her applaudable Persian character.  The current Iranian, Islamic regime, a mere thirty three year old creation, through its theocratic and isolationist nature seems to have overshadowed the seven thousand year history of the Persian people, a tragedy that any global citizen would mourn, and fight against.

This project is an attempt at fighting against the popular misconception about Iran and Iranian politics. The misinformation about Iranian politics and people continues to fuel faulty discourses. My project aims at addressing this gap between the two populations, Iranians and Americans that is, by demystifying the Iranian political structure and by making sense of the political developments through the Iranian lens.  Hopefully this project will make a worthy contribution in reshaping the currently bigoted discourse about Iran.

Having established the underlying agenda and the overarching expectations of the  project, a little must be said about its sensitivity.  Acknowledging the sensitivity of a humanities project helps one to address them effectively.  I envision to address the sensitive aspect of my project by creating an analytical model that is as robust as it is flexible. Given the sensitive nature of my particular project (the sensitivities of Iranians and Americans are inextricably linked to it), I must strike a decent balance that accommodates the sensitivity of the subject without compromising academic rigor. For achieving this objective I see peer review to be of utmost importance.

The budding academic as well as the global citizen in me is looking forward to contributing to and benefiting from this priceless venture.

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