Comparative Approaches to Modern Iran and Turkey

This panel was compiled by the Conference Program Team from independently submitted paper proposals


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In Dramas of Nationhood Lila Abu-Lughod offers an ethnographic account of the way in which the producers of Egyptian Television series and the Egyptian audience partake in an intriguingly complex form of nation building through the production and reception of these dramas. Purnima Mankekar’s Screening Culture, Viewing Politics: An Ethnography of Television, Womanhood, and Nation in Postcolonial India, shows the significant role of television series in India in shaping women’s place in family, community and the nation. Anthropologists have discussed soap operas, television series, and media in general, affecting particular notions of citizenry, kinship, ethical landscapes, … in other parts of the globe (Pertierra &Turner, Larkin, Hirschkind, and others).

But what does it mean for the Iranians to be so enamored with the Turkish television series so much so that they even plan their daily routines around them, or for the series to be referenced in political satires in some newspapers or appear in television programs in the form of comic shows or satirical episodes? Whose dreams of nationhood they generate in Iran? How do Iranians negotiate their own national cultural formations in relation to these series? What desires, sentiments, and imageries are they engendering or invoking among different social sectors? What possible nostalgia or fetishistic dreams of nationhood, religiosity, and citizenry they steer up or reveal in the Iranian current sociopolitical landscape?

A common travel destination, for many Iranians Turkey has come to offer a sense of being at once in a familiar and yet a foreign land, a Europe in the neighborhood. For others it is where dichotomies come to coexist, where the East meets the West, where religion and the so-called secularism hold hands. Are they any relationship between these sentiments and the popularity of these series? What inhibitions and uncanny vestiges do these series invoke among those Iranians who find them so desirable? What dreams and ideals they articulate?

Aside from the work of cultural translation, the dubbing adds a fascinating dimension to the convergence and negotiation of different trans-national ideals. What kind of translation does occur? What happens, for instance, when an Iranian popular song enters into these series, as if sung by a Turkish actress? This paper explores these questions to contemplate the role of language and translation, in narrow and broad sense of these terms, and the translations of dramas and dreams of nationhood in relation to the popular Turkish dramas in Iran.

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The beginning of the 1970s marked the fading away of the spirit of the student movements and the flourishing of militant revolutionary activism in both Iran and Turkey. Convinced that their governments were collaborating with the United States and a comprador bourgeoisie was ruling over their country, beginning in the 1970s numerous left-leaning men and women from Turkey and Iran adopted armed struggle as the only way to get rid of those regimes and eventually establish an egalitarian, independent, and prosperous society. Inspired by the victories of guerrilla struggles in Latin America and the Cultural Revolution in China, they embraced an eclectic mix of Maoist ideals and urban guerrilla warfare. In these unique conditions, the women among them had such extraordinary experiences that challenged not only traditional gender relations in their societies but also the growing sexual emancipation trajectory of the global sixties.

There is still a significant gap in our understanding of the history of women in revolutionary movements in particular and women’s experiences in social movements in general in Iran and Turkey due to lack of sources and negligence. In this respect, a comparative study of women’s activism—especially their motivations, perceptions and experiences—in radical leftist movements in these countries will be an important contribution. This study aims exactly at making this contribution through an oral history of the women who were involved in radical leftist activism in the 1970s in Iran and Turkey. Oral histories of these extraordinary women, with a particular focus on everyday life, provide us with invaluable information regarding the consequences of global and local politics on women’s lives, experiences and the ways in which gender relations were shaped in these revolutionary movements.

In this paper, I examine what sorts of challenges and opportunities women were presented with while pursuing radical leftist activism, especially in the safe houses of their revolutionary organizations. Through the oral history interviews I have conducted with various former revolutionary women, I focus on their everyday lives, which revolved around organizational activities, daily chores, and responsibilities for disguising the house, analyzing the characteristics of gender roles and relations between men and women. With a comparison of Iranian and Turkish cases, this paper questions if we can talk about a common gendered experience for women in underground revolutionary movements in different countries.

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ترجمه از زبان ترکی عثمانی به فارسی در دورة ناصری
مطالعة موردی: ترجمه¬های محمدعارف اسپناقچی پاشازاده

نصرالله صالحی
ترجمه از زبانهای مختلف به فارسی از اوایل دورة قاجار به صورت جدی شکل گرفت. گسترش ارتباط ایران با دولتهای همجوار و نیز اروپایی یکی از عوامل شکل¬گیری جریان ترجمه در این دوره بود. با آغاز دوره ناصری(1264-1313/1848-1895) و به-ویژه با تشکیل دارالفنون مسئلة ترجمه به صورت جدی در کانون توجه قرار گرفت. از این رو، نهاد مهمی به نام «دارالترجمة خاصة همایونی» به ریاست میرزا محمدحسن¬خان اعتمادالسلطنه به وجود آمد و مترجمان متعددی که هریک به چند زبان مسلط بودند، جذب شدند. یکی از زبانهایی که برای ترجمه مورد توجه قرار گرفت، زبان ترکی عثمانی بود. شخص ناصرالدین شاه علاقه و توجه خاصی به آگاهی از گذشته و حال امپراتوری عثمانی داشت. علاقه و کنجکاوی او به شناخت پیشینة عثمانی تا جایی بود که گاه خود شخصاً دستور ترجمة کتابی خاص دربارة عثمانی را صادر می¬کرد. از این رو «وزیر انطباعات و رئیس دارالترجمة خاصة همایونی» یعنی اعتمادالسلطنه اقدام به جذب مترجمان شایسته¬ای از زبان ترکی عثمانی به فارسی کرد. یکی از این مترجمان که به عنوان کارمند رسمی دربار قاجار در خدمت وزیر انطباعات قرار گرفت، محمدعارف اسپناقچی پاشا¬زاده بود. محمدعارف، در اصل از ترکان عثمانی بود که درست معلوم نیست چه زمانی به ایران مهاجرت کرده است. وی به عنوان منشی و مترجم ترکی دارالترجمه در عهد ناصری آثار متعددی از ترکی به فارسی ترجمه کرد. او را می¬توان یکی از پرکارترین مترجمان و مؤلفان دهة پایانی سلطنت ناصرالدین شاه به¬شمار آورد. تعداد و حجم آثار باقی مانده از محمدعارف حاکی از تلاش و تکاپوی او در عرصة قلم و فرهنگ عصر ناصرالدین شاه است. از برخی اشاره¬هایی که در مقدمة آثار خود آورده، به خوبی پیداست که او به امر ترجمه و تألیف به عنوان یک وظیفة اداری و تکلیف کاری نگاه نمی¬کرده، بلکه تألیف و ترجمه را یک کار ارزشمند علمی که ماندگار خواهد بود می¬دانسته است. برخی از ترجمه¬های او تصحیح و منتشر شده و برخی هم به صورت خطی باقی مانده است. ترجمه¬های او از جهات گوناگون شایسته معرفی و بررسی است، کاری که هنوز صورت نگرفته است. در مقالة حاضر بعد از مروری بر جریان ترجمه از ترکی عثمانی به فارسی در دورة ناصری، به صورت موردی به معرفی محمدعارف و ترجمه¬های او پرداخته شده است.

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Peaceful on the surface, conflictive inside: Reclaiming the neighborhood in Tehran and Istanbul
(Case studies: Derbent, Istanbul and Ekbatan, Tehran)

Since 2002 and gain of the power by Justice and Development Party (JDP) in Turkey, the neo-liberal urban policies have gained a new momentum. Privatization and changing the laws to materialize these strategies, constructing mega projects, erecting shopping malls and five star hotels instead of historic monuments as well as building tens of gated communities are of the urban policies of the ruling party. Urban transformation plans specifically target the low income groups in the squatted neighborhoods of Istanbul. Although in the first years of rule of JDP the bulldozers of neo-liberalism were leveling the poor neighborhoods of Istanbul, now they are facing an increasing resistance.
In Tehran, the pseudo neo-liberal policies of the Government of Reconstruction has been pursued by Tehran Municipality ever since. Selling the building density, unleashing the private developers as well as destroying the historic buildings have been of these policies. Shrinking the green spaces, cutting the trees and constructing more roads have provoked a wide opposition. Despite that, Tehran Municipality has not been heeding the objections of professionals, academicians, activists and other groups of citizens. Currently and for the first time in years, a group of citizens are resisting these policies.
This article draws on two case studies in Istanbul and Tehran. The case in Istanbul is a working class neighborhood under the threat of eviction since 2012. Organized in a neighborhood cooperative the people have sued the municipality of Istanbul two times so far. In both cases the courts in Ankara have ruled in favor of the residents.
The case in Tehran (Ekbatan) is a middle class neighborhood in which the urban activists working within the neighborhood council have mobilized the people against the Municipality of Tehran selling their public land to private sector to build a shopping mall and erecting a religious center in a green public area. Recently and following a lawsuit, the Iranian Administrative Court of Justice has ruled against the construction of the mosque.
This article suggests that these struggles in cities of Istanbul and Tehran in which the direct confrontation with the system might be too costly need a special attention. Although these struggles take a ‘peaceful’ path following a ‘legal’ trail, they have a conflictive nature. In other words, they are peaceful on surface but conflictive inside.