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Persian Studies Hosts “Cultures of the Iranian Diaspora”


Media Contact:
Persis Karim, Director of Persian Studies, Persis.karim@sjsu.edu, 408-924-4476

Persian Studies Program Hosts First-Ever “Cultures of the Iranian Diaspora Conference”

Various scholars, acclaimed artists and filmmakers from across the country will present at this conference.

SAN JOSE, Calif.- The Persian Studies Program at San Jose State, with support from the Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute and the College of Humanities and the Arts, will hold the first-ever “Cultures of the Iranian Diaspora” conference on Friday, April 11, and Saturday, April 12, at SJSU.

This conference brings together visual artists, writers, filmmakers and cultural activists who have been making art and representing the experiences, perspectives and sentiments of a diverse community of Iranians in the United Since over the past three decades.

Panels and discussions will convene in the Dr. Martin Luther King  Jr. Library, rooms 225/229 and 255 , on Friday morning. Registration for the conference for both days including lunch is $60 for the general public and $50 for students. Advanced registration is required. 

Various scholars, acclaimed artists and filmmakers from across the country will present at this conference while representing institutions including the University of Southern California, Boston University, California College of Arts, UCLA, California Institute of Integral Studies and UC Irvine. Participants will provide a multi-dimensional exploration of how art has helped shape a conversation about Iran, migration to the West and the unique culture of Iranian Americans and the Iranian diaspora.

Iranian American Life

“As we read daily headlines about the tension between Iran and the United States, it is important to recognize the significant presence of Iranian-Americans and the ways that their experiences and contributions are often overshadowed,” said Dr. Persis Karim, director of Persian Studies at SJSU. “This conference is an occasion to reflect on and share the arts and humanity of Iran and its diaspora communities in the context of North America.”

Persian Studies Program Hosts First-Ever “Cultures of the Iranian Diaspora Conference”

The play “Inja o Oonja: Stories from Iranian American Life,” featuring Kyle Swany, Mehrzad Karimabadi and Sara Mashayekh, will premiere at the “Cultures of the Iranian Diaspora” conference (photo courtesy of Persis Karim).

The conference also features a play titled, “Inja o Oonja—Here and There: Stories from Iranian American Life,” adapted by SJSU Theater Arts Professor Dr. Matthew Spangler from three short stories by Iranian American writers on Friday, April 11, at 7 p.m. at the Le Petit Trianon Theatre (72 N. Fifth St., San Jose).

To conclude the conference events, a film-screening and discussion of two films by SJSU Professor Babak Sarrafan (Radio, Television, Film and Theater) and San Jose native Mo Gorjestani will be held on Saturday, April 12, in the Student Union Ballroom at 7 p.m. Both of these evening events are free and open to the public.

SJSU’s Persian Studies Program was established in March 2011 with funding from a grant from PARSA Community Foundation and received a generous three-year grant from the Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute  to continue the work of educating the SJSU community about the rich culture, history and heritage of the Persianate world, including the Iranian diaspora.

Evolution of a Community

Since 2011, Persian Studies at SJSU has offered courses in beginning Persian through the World Languages department and has hosted numerous lectures with scholars, film-screenings, musical events and book readings. This year’s events commenced with lectures “Jews of Iran” featuring Dr. Jaleh Pirnazar of UC Berkeley as well as “Days of the Revolution” presented by Dr. Mary Hegland of Santa Clara University. Celebration of Norouz, the Persian New Year and the spring equinox, has also become a tradition of the Persian Studies Program with the third annual concert of classical and folk Persian music on March 9.

“We hope people will see how art can help shape a different conversation about a people, their heritage and the evolution of that community right here in the United States,” said Karim. “We’re grateful that the Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute is making that conversation possible in the heart of one of the largest populations of Iranian Americans in this country.”

More information for this conference, play and film-screening can be found at SJSU’s Persian Studies Program website.

Also, like Persian Studies at SJSU on Facebook for event news and updates.