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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Zar, Cinema and Iran's Forgotten History of Blackness

  • Author(s): Vaziri, Parisa
  • Advisor(s): Terada, Rei
  • et al.
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This dissertation engages the history of Indian Ocean world slavery in Iran and the Persian Gulf through cinematic artifacts. Blackness in Iranian films describes a demand for historical reckoning that repositions Iranian cinema as a site of transmission and relation to the submerged past, complicating traditional narratives of transition to Iranian modernity. Through mediating ancient performance traditions and rituals, the films I read in this dissertation articulate a temporal complexity that is heightened by the qualities of film medium. From scenes of sīyāh bāzī in Farukh Ghafārī’s feature films, to Nasir Taqvāī’s experimental documentation of African spirit healing rituals such as zar, and African influences on Shi’a ritual, cinematic blackness grapples with a kind of history that must take into account the difficult transcription of experience into shared knowledge, and the ethical problems posed by abstraction in the process of this transcription.

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This item is under embargo until June 26, 2024.