This panel was compiled by the Conference Program Team from independently submitted paper proposals.
Population shifts from rural to urban have affected the human geography of Iran as have the growth of some former villages into large enough population, commercial and communications hubs to transform them into towns. Yet, in our contemporary highly urbanized world, nostalgia for village life, seen as a pattern of social interconnection, is embodied in areas as diverse as child rearing philosophies, digital games and living a simpler life.
For Iran’s Assyrian diaspora community this nostalgia enters poetry and music with formal associations built on village-of-origin ties. Nearly all Assyrians of Iran have origins in the over 100 Assyrian villages located in the Urmiah/Salmas area now comprising West Azarbaijan. As self-help associations, members engaged in support for recent immigrants, but also as funders for village renovation and construction. Gradually as urbanization in Iran itself created a generation of educated men and women who were products of cross marriage among villagers, the memory of the village transformed into an imagined generic space redolent of extended loving family ties, slow but predictable life patterns and especially an idyllic agrarian lifestyle.
Nowhere is this Assyrian nostalgia for a lost way of life better expressed than in a selection of poetry and paintings by the leading Assyrian Iranian painter and poet of the late 20th century, Hannibal Alkhas (1930-2010). Through images music and poetry recited by the late poet himself I will explore this longing for a simple village family life fit into his career built primarily on the abstract art for which he is best known in Iranian circles.