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Warring Souls: Youth, Media, and Martyrdom in Post-Revolution Iranby Roxanne Varzi
Synopses & Reviews
With the first Fulbright grant for research in Iran to be awarded since the Iranian revolution in 1979, Roxanne Varzi returned to the country her family left before the Iran-Iraq war. Drawing on ethnographic research she conducted in Tehran between 1991 and 2000, she provides an eloquent account of the beliefs and experiences of young, middle-class, urban Iranians. As the first generation to have come of age entirely in the period since the founding of the Islamic Republic of Iran, twenty-something Iranians comprise a vital index of the success of the nation’s Islamic Revolution. Varzi describes how, since 1979, the Iranian state has attempted to produce and enforce an Islamic public sphere by governing behavior and by manipulating images—particularly images related to religious martyrdom and the bloody war with Iraq during the 1980s—through films, murals, and television shows. Yet many of the young Iranians Varzi studied quietly resist the government’s conflation of religious faith and political identity.
Highlighting trends that belie the government’s claim that Islamic values have taken hold—including rising rates of suicide, drug use, and sex outside of marriage—Varzi argues that by concentrating on images and the performance of proper behavior, the government’s campaign to produce model Islamic citizens has affected only the appearance of religious orthodoxy, and that the strictly religious public sphere is partly a mirage masking a profound crisis of faith among many Iranians. Warring Souls is a powerful account of contemporary Iran made more vivid by Varzi’s inclusion of excerpts from the diaries she maintained during her research and from journal entries written by Iranian university students with whom she formed a study group.
An ethnography of secular youth culture in Tehran and its resistance to post-Revolutionary Islamicist politics.
An eloquent ethnographic account of the beliefs and experiences of young, middle-class, urban Iranians who have grown up in the period since Iran?s 1979 Islamic revolution
Drawing on ethnographic research conducted by the author in Tehran between 1991 and 2000, this book provides an account of the beliefs and experiences of young, middle-class, urban Iranians.
About the Author
“Warring Souls is an outstanding and nuanced addition to the literature on contemporary Iranian culture, media, and society.”—Hamid Naficy, author of An Accented Cinema: Exilic and Diasporic Filmmaking
“A lovely piece of writing, Warring Souls is one of the first credible accounts of secular Iranians in their twenties, the post-Revolution generation.”—Michael M. J. Fischer, author of Mute Dreams, Blind Owls, and Dispersed Knowledges: Persian Poesis in the Transnational Circuitry
“Inside and outside the pulse of war in Iran, close up and far away, Roxanne Varzi weaves her spell; two parts anthropology, one part poetry and film theory, three parts a soaring imagination and a big heart. How could you not reach out for a book which situates itself at the intersection of religion, vision, and power, asking whether the individual ultimately has the power to turn the image off? A tour de force.”—Michael Taussig, Professor of Anthropology, Columbia University
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History and Social Science » Anthropology » Cultural Anthropology