Writing Against the Center: Azeri Turkish Narratives of Iran

Mar 22, 2023, 12:15 pm1:15 pm
Robertson Hall-001
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Event Description
Writing Against the Center


The idea of monolingualism as a prerequisite for a unified nation-state was initially introduced in Iran by Berlin-based Iranian intellectuals in the 1920s. The Iranian intellectuals had, in turn, received the notion from the German intellectuals and appropriated it for the case of their own country. It soon became one of the main state projects of the Pahlavis in their attempt to create a homogenous Aryan nation. There was no room for pluralism in the unified nation-state with centralized power, not even in the linguistic or literary domains. All the different languages coexisting within the geographical expanse of Iran were to be substituted with Persian. The institutionalized bias has been maintained even to this date. The study introduces prose narratives in Azeri Turkish and discusses their engagements with the questions of monolingualism, institutionalized assimilation policies, and center-periphery relations. It further reveals the dissident nature of minority literature to the centralized homogeneity.


Leila Rahimi Bahmany is currently a Visitor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. She completed her doctorate in comparative literature at the Free University of Berlin. Her book, Mirrors of Entrapment and Emancipation: Forugh Farrokhzad and Sylvia Plath (Leiden University Press, 2015), was the recipient of a 2016 Latifeh Yarshater Award. In addition, she has authored several book chapters and encyclopedia articles on Persian literature, Sufism, and Azerii intellectuals.