PODCAST: Women’s culture Iran

Women News Network – WNN Interviews

Iranian women throw their hijabs in air.
Iranian women throw their hijabs (headscarves) up in the air as a show of defiance against the restrictive dress code laws against women inside Iran. Image: آزادی های یواشکی زنان در ایران

Esra’a Al Shafei, founder of Mideast Youth, interviews Negar Mottahedeh about her 2008 Syracuse University Press book release, “Representing the Unpresentable.” Their discussion highlights women and the visual history and reform in Iran from the 19th century to the present. What are the historic and the contemporary images that affect Iranian women today? Are today’s vs yesterday’s images complementary or insulting? Why? And how have some of these images of Iran’s women become “unpresentable” to the world? What can historians do to chronicle the history of  Iran’s women without seeming “un-Islamic”? How does a larger global society sort through the issues of Islamic dress for women? How will history play this? These and other issues are discussed in this interesting 18 min podcast.


Mideast Youth Podcasts – MEYcast

Producer: Esra’a Al Shafei, Mideast Youth

Guest: Negar Mottahedeh

Date: 17 April, 2010

Length: 18:0 min

Background: Born in Iran, Negar Mottahedeh was 7 years old when her family moved to Norway. “My parents were growing anxious about the changes that would soon sweep the country,” said Mottahedeh. “They had a concept of themselves as citizens of the world and settled, happily, in Norway.” Later Negar would come to the United States to study international relations at Mt. Holyoke College and comparative literature at University of Minnesota, where she received her doctorate. Working on a synthesis in understanding the connection between film, text and culture Negar brings insight and revelation to our understanding.

“Iranian cinema constantly plays with past, present and future. And with the division between fiction and reality,” she says. “We are somewhere, but we are also nowhere. We are in the present, but we also live in no-time.”

As Associate Professor of Literature and Women’s Studies at Duke University Mottahedeh gives her students a look at cultural history through a depth of wisdom that enables them to step out of their own environment.  In 2008, Duke University Press published her book on Post-Revolutionary Iranian Cinema entitled: “Displaced Allegories.” Her first book “Representing the Unpresentable” on visual history and reform in Iran from the 19th Century to the present was published in 2008 by Syracuse University Press. She is currently working on her third book.


Humanitarian cyber-activist, Esra’a Al Shafei, is the Bahraini founder and director of MideastYouth.com, an innovative digital network that aims to encourage conversation across the borders of religion, ethnicity and nation as they give freedom of speech to everyone, especially to the youth of the Middle East and the North African regions.


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