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Iranian Job Talk - Seema Golestaneh

Tue, Feb 18, 6:00 pm
Walnut Room, IMU

Seema Golestaneh

Open Sounds, Hidden Spaces: Listening, Wandering, and Spatial Formation in Sufi Iran

Central Eurasian Studies Talk

Tuesday, February 18th, 6:00-7:00 pm

Walnut Room, IMU

As the Iranian authorities continue to frown upon public gatherings, Sufi Orders have sought alternative methods of convening while still complying with city regulations. One informal Sufi group in Isfahan does so by meeting in private homes and rotating locations each week. Rather than circulate the specific address of a meeting place, however, the mystics instead instruct the others to meet at a nearby intersection, and then broadcast the music from a courtyard or house to alert the members to the exact location. This in turn allows them to locate the site by listening for and ultimately “following” the sounds. It is in this way that the Sufis utilize the practice of intentional listening (sama) and mystical ideals of wandering to navigate the politics of Iranian urban space. This talk will examine the utilization of mystical epistemologies to lead to the emergence of an alternative Islamic space in post-revolutionary Iran.

Seema Golestaneh is a Ph.D. Candidate in Anthropology at Columbia University.  Her dissertation title is:  “The Social Life of Gnosis:  Sufism in Post-Revolutionary Iran.”  Her current research interests include:  Anthropology of Religion in Iran; Politics of Cultural Heritage in Iran; Knowledge Production and the Everyday; Anthropological and Aesthetic Theory; and Intersections of Literary Criticism and Cultural Theory.