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Chronopolitical Assemblages: Race/ism, Desire, and Identification in Iranian Contexts


This research enumerates a contrapuntal relationship between race/ism, sexuality, and time in the discourse that overdetermines structures of relationality in contemporary Iranian contexts as they have been/are affected by encounters with European and American peoples and cultures. In Chapter 1, I examine how Euro-Enlightenment social and political constructions of time negotiate the making of Iran’s imagined community; in Chapters 2 and 3, I further intervene in self-narrativizations of Iranian gay and trans sexualities in Western media, specifically, in documentary film (Chapter 2) and reality television (Chapter 3), to elaborate how Iranians in the diaspora and Islamic Republic alike, as constitutive members of Iran’s imagined community, appropriate Euro-Enlightenment social and political constructions of time to make their same-sex attractions known as the mark of racial modernity. I suggest that their self-narrativizations betray a chronopolitical anxiety symptomatic of Iranian nationalism, which as a gharbzadeghi—a Weststruckness I elaborate as whitestruckness in Chapter 1—seeks to redress Iranians’ station (i.e., social and political coordinates) in Enlightenment Europe’s metaphysics of Man. Enlightenment metaphysics, authored by modern continental philosophers of history like Hume, Kant, and especially Hegel, abstract Man as a becoming-white figure who slowly stands upright, progressively moving through time to invariably arrive at what Foucault enumerates in The History of Sexuality, Vol. 1 (1976) as sexual identities and types. I argue that Iranians who participate in the making (if not the production) of Western media about their gay and trans sexualities—well-aware, I suspect, of how their testimonials will circulate in the West—intuit and further seek in their self-narrativizations to redress, even as they deny, their chronopolitical station in Europe’s metaphysical discourse. Their accounts, which spatialize sexual differences as Historical-cum-racial ones, are thoughtfully tailored; in them, Iranians manipulate a knowledge-power regime that authorizes white viewers to do the looking that interpellates brown and black Others in time, to curry recognition for their Iranian persons as modern/izing subjects.

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