Tuesday 12 March 2013
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Racist Against Ourselves: The Negative Impact of Ethnic Jokes

Posted by cameron On 12 - March - 2013

Today’s post comes from the IAAB Blog. Please click here to read the original post by Danyal Lotfi.

Racist Against Ourselves: The Negative Impact of Ethnic Jokes

By: Danyal Lotfi

* Danyal Lotfi is a university student in Washington State. He has participated in IAAB’s Summer Leadership Institutes as both a student and as a counselor.

I’m sure most of you have heard of the typical Iranian jokes that are exchanged at family gatherings, between friends and neighbors. Have you ever paid attention to the content of these jokes? Who are they referring to? To us, Iranians. But they are always targeting a certain ethnic minority. These jokes usually entail stories of how Turks/Azeris are dumb, Gilaks have no honor, Lurs are stupid, and so on.

Sattar Khan

What most people don’t realize when they share such jokes is how brutally they are hurting the identity of their brothers and sisters from all across Iran. No, Turks/Azeris are not dumb. Have you ever heard of a man named Sattar Khan? He was Azeri and one of the key players in the Iranian Constitutional Revolution in early twentieth century, who with the help of Bagher Khan became the leader of the Constitutional rebels in Tabriz and later on in most of Iran.

You think Gilaks have no “honor”? Well, let me introduce you to Mirza Kuchik Khan, who was another leader during the Constitutional Revolution and who fought for quite a few years against the outside forces (Russian and British) who were controlling the capital at the time. Let’s not forget about Karim Khan Zand, a Lur, who in the 18th century, saved Iran from the chaos of the civil war. The list doesn’t end there. It goes on and on, giving us reasons to be respectful towards minorities within Iran and celebrate these minorities and what each of us bring to the table.

Mirza Kuchik Khan

Today, there is much talk about racism against Iranians across the globe. However, when I sit at an Iranian gathering, whether it’s with family or friends, and I hear such offensive jokes, whether it’s targeting my own ethnicity or my friend’s ethnicity as a Turk, a Gilak, a Lur, or any other minority, I’m suddenly less worried about racism against Iranians from the outside world and much more concerned about racism within our own Iranian community.

Most people never really think about the impact of these jokes when they share them. To them, it’s “just a joke, and no one should take it personally.” But think about what we’re asking others when we say such a thing and make ethnic jokes. We are directly humiliating them and part of their identity. How do we expect others not to be offended when we deliberately hurt them and part of who they are?

In order to fight against racism against Iranians across the world, we must first look to ourselves and our community and see what kind of a message we’re sending to outsiders. When we can’t even respect human beings with diverse ethnic backgrounds within our own community, how do we, as Iranians, expect other nationalities to respect us?

When I was growing up, I was always the source of jokes in my family. It almost became a tradition in our family, where every time we had a family gathering everyone would be asking me for the “newest jokes in the market.” And I was always ready to give them the funniest and newest ethnic jokes I had heard. It wasn’t until about a year ago that I began to realize the true impact of these jokes. The ethnic stereotypes mentioned above had been repeated in my head so many times that my brain was starting to believe them. When I had that awakening about the impact of these jokes, I began thinking about why such jokes are so popular in our culture. Dr. Kaveh Farrokh, a history professor at the University of British Columbia’s Continuing Studies Division, says the following regarding the origin of ethnic jokes in the early twentieth century in Iran:

“The Russians (and British) were very concerned with a cultural dynamic in Iran that could lead to the rise of a modern and progressive state. The Russians and English were especially concerned with the leadership role that northern Iranians (e.g. Azeris, Rashtis, etc.) had played in Iran’s democratic movement of the early 1900s. It would appear that the united nature of the constitutional movement in which Azeri, Bakhtiari, Mazandarnai, Mashahdi, etc. fought side by side in the name of a democratic, progressive and modern Iran was not palatable to the distinguished policy makers in Moscow and London. A means had to be found to divide the Iranians and dissolve their historical bonds.

It was in here where the Russian secret police had the distinction of inventing the first anti-Iranian cultural weapons. They even outdid the British, who themselves had been working to undermine Iran’s unity since the 19thcentury (see Part VI, item 10).

The cultural weapons are the so-called venomous “jokes” targeted against Iran’s Azeri population and the north in general (esp. Rasht). This is not surprising as it was always these regions that would put up the first fight against any Russian invasion. The Bakhtiaris and Lurs were also targeted, partly due to fears of their martial abilities.”

We must understand the origin of these jokes in order to fully realize their true purpose and impact. We have such a diverse community in Iran and that’s what makes our culture beautiful. Every ethnicity within Iran is an essential organ in the body of the Iranian culture and we shouldn’t have any reason to damage it.

In an article that was recently published by Beeta Baghoolizadeh, “The Afro-Iranian Community: Beyond Haji Firuz Blackface, the Slave Trade, & Bandari Music,” she brings up a similar topic. Her article is about the Afro-Iranian community of southern Iran, one of the many ethnic minorities within Iran. Baghoolizadeh discusses the status of Afro-Iranians in Iran, and the fact that to many Iranians “they simply do not exist.”  Baghoolizadeh states:

“When talking about the diversity of Iran, most people will recall the various ethno-linguistic groups that are equally native to the Iranian plateau, like Persians, Azeris, Gilakis, Baluchis, and others who have migrated to the region through the centuries. In these discussions, however, Afro-Iranians and those of African descent are often ignored. Perhaps this stems from their limited exposure in mainstream Iranian culture. Or maybe it is because the legacy of African slavery in Iran contradicts the ever-so-pervasive Aryan myth of perfection and civilization. Regardless, most Iranians forget the Afro-Iranians and their rich traditions, despite their prominent cultural influence that persists today.”

The issue of harming ethnic minorities within Iran does not only come from ethnic jokes. This issue must be looked at from a much broader point of view. We must find all the ways through which we are damaging ethnic minorities in Iran, such as ethnic jokes, ignorance, etc. and work together to eliminate these disrespectful practices.

Reliefs at Persepolis showing delegates of different regions of Persia coming to Persepolis during Norouz celebrations

We, as Iranians, have always been proud of our past and brag on a regular basis about the great Persian Empire that we believe promoted freedom of speech and religion, whether it actually was the case or not. By looking at the stone carvings at Persepolis in Iran, we can see how delegates of various races from different parts of the Persian Empire would gather together in peace during Norouz celebrations at Persepolis. While it is great for us to be proud of our past and what we believe our ancestors have accomplished, it unfortunately sometimes prevents us from seeing the problems that we face today. Are we as inclusive today as we can and should be? Are we able to gather in harmony with friends and family members from other ethnic backgrounds without making part of their identity the subject of ridicule? We must learn to move on from, but not forget, our past and focus on a brighter future. Ask yourself, aren’t you as a human being offended when someone’s topic of laughter is your ethnicity, sexuality, culture, or other parts of your identity? Are you doing anything to stop discrimination within our Iranian community? Please, take a moment and think about the extremely negative impact of these jokes. For as long as we continue making these ethnically offensive jokes, we are making it harder for ourselves to come together in unity with our brothers and sisters from various parts of Iran. Instead of sharing these disrespectful jokes against ethnic minorities in Iran, let’s encourage ourselves and others to celebrate this diversity within Iran’s borders and learn about how we can enrich our culture and society by doing so.


Farrokh, Kaveh. “Introdcution: Pan-Turanianism Takes Aim At Azerbaijan; A Geopolitical Agenda  | CAIS©.” Introdcution: Pan-Turanianism Takes Aim At Azerbaijan; A Geopolitical Agenda . The Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies, 2005. Web. 02 Aug. 2012. <http://www.cais-soas.com/CAIS/Iran/pan_turkism_takes_aim_at_azarbaijan/introduction.htm>.

Baghoolizadeh, Beeta. “The Afro-Iranian Community: Beyond Haji Firuz Blackface, the Slave Trade, & Bandari Music.” Ajam Media Collective. Ajam Media Collective, 20 June 2012. Web. 25 July 2012. <http://ajammc.wordpress.com/2012/06/20/the-afro-iranian-community-beyond-haji-firuz-blackface-slavery-bandari-music/>.

Documenting the Sociopolitical Upheavals in the Middle East

Posted by cameron On 4 - December - 2012

Today’s post comes from Sophie Kazan via Reorient.

Abbas - 'Rioters Burn a Portrait of the Shah as a Sign of Protest Against his Regime. Tehran, December 1978'

Abbas – ‘Rioters Burn a Portrait of the Shah as a Sign of Protest Against his Regime. Tehran, December 1978′

Images courtesy the Art Fund Collection of Middle Eastern Photography at the V&A and the British Museum

London has been undergoing its own Arab Spring of sorts in the past months, as a steady flow of exhibitions and cultural events focusing on the Middle East have been flourishing around the capital in rapid succession.

In the summer of 2011, Shubbak, London’s first festival of contemporary Arab arts & culture was launched by mayor Boris Johnson, and was quickly followed by the city’s second Nour Festival of Arts in October of that year. In January, just a few months later, the British Museum launched its Hajj exhibition, and in almost no time, an assortment of similarly themed exhibitions blossomed around London.


This is part II of a series originally posted at Ajam Media Collective. The article was written by Afsheen Sharifzadeh.

Interior of Vank Cathedral, New Julfa, Isfahan

Part II of a guest post written by Afsheen Sharifzadeh, a student at Tufts University focusing on Iran and the Caucasus. Check out Part I, “The Bridge to New Julfa: A Historical Look at the Armenian-Iranian Community of Isfahan”, here

The Safavids left an appreciable Caucasian imprint on Iranian society by interweaving Armenian, Georgian, and Circassian elements into the socio-political fiber of the empire. Promising young Caucasian men were trained to become politically-influential ghulâms, or royal pages, and Shahs, governors, and commanders alike were born of Caucasian mothers. In fact, the sepâh-sâlâr (Commander-in-Chief) of the Persian armies in Afghanistan and appointed Governor of Kandahar in the early 18th century was none other than the former King Giorgi XI of Georgia, under the Persian allonym “Gorgīn Khan”.

But Shah Abbas I had a unique vision for a certain group of Armenians, and among his greatest achievements was his creation of a semi-autonomous Armenian merchant oligarchy in his new capital, Isfahan. In this exclusive, custom-built suburb called New Julfa, the Armenians were permitted if not outwardly encouraged to preserve their distinct cultural, linguistic and religious identity, while melding harmoniously with the sovereign Persian socio-political infrastructure. Indeed, the Armenian merchant community of New Julfa became the crown jewel of the Safavid economy in the 17th century.

Few people realize that some common words in English are vestiges of the Iranian silk imports to Europe. For example, the word “seersucker” comes from the Persian shīr-u-shakar, which means “cream and sugar” and denotes a thread color. The more familiar “pajamas” are from the word pâ-jâmah, the contemporary word denoting trousers in Persian. Many other terms relating to textiles and clothing came from Persian into European languages as a result of New Julfan trade interactions.

The merchants of New Julfa were among the wealthiest merchants in the Old World by the end of the 17th century. Contemporary French traveler Jean Chardin wrote that, in 1673– just two generations after the Julfan Armenians were exiled from the Caucasus to Iran– Agha Piri, the head of the Armenian Community of Isfahan and one of its richest merchants, owned a fortune greater than 2,000,000 livres tournois (the equivalent of 1,500 kg of gold). Contrast with the textile merchants Beauvais and Amiens (the wealthiest merchants in France in the same period), the wealth of these two inventoried at their deaths amounted to 60,000 and 163,000 livres tournois respectively—a figure then considered astronomical. Yet these two figures combined amounted to barely a tenth of Agha Piri’s fortune.

St. Thaddeus Monastery (Pers: Qarakelisâ, Arm: Sourp T’adeos Vank), Maku, Iran

The Safavids were determined to please the New Julfans while simultaneously transforming their exclusive suburb into a strategic center of religious and mercantile activity for Armenians around the world. Indeed this royally-backed centrism effort is reflected in the official Armenian title for the provost of the suburb, Hayots T’ak’avor (“King of Armenians”). Shah Abbas I even issued a farmân in 1615 to dismantle the holiest church to the Armenian Orthodoxy, the Echmiadzin Church in the Caucasus, and have the stones transported to New Julfa and reassembled to form a new mother church for the Armenian people according to the architectural taste of the Armenian clergy in Isfahan. The New Julfan merchant council however staunchly opposed this act, and eventually settled for the removal of just a few foundation stones for the construction of the superficially mosque-like Vank Cathedral (Sourp Amenaprgich Vank). The Catholicos of Echmiadzin approved the creation of a new “Diocese of New Julfa” in Isfahan, which became known as the “Diocese of Persia and India” (Parska-Hndkastani T’em) headed by the “Archbishop of New Julfa”, and had jurisdiction over all Armenian communities in Persia, India, and Java.

Dzordzor Chapel (Armenian: Sourp Astvatsatsin), Northern Iran

It is only logical that the relationship between the New Julfans and the Safavid royal family was incredibly warm and politically-loaded, for these merchants were the wealthiest lot in the realm behind the Shah himself. A notably prosperous and powerful early provost of the suburb, Khoja Nazar of the Shafraz family, is even called “Shah Nazar” in Persian mercantile documents–a faculty that was unthinkable for any of his Muslim contemporaries.

The Shah allowed the New Julfans to wear their distinctive Armenian garbs and headgear, and ruled unconditionally in their favor in disputes with Muslims. At the request of the New Julfans, the Shah issued a farmân forbidding European evangelists such as Franciscans, Capuchins, Jesuits, and Carmelites from proselytizing in New Julfa. Most notably, he stopped the schemes of a certain Portuguese Augustinian monk in Isfahan named Diego who sought to align New Julfa with the Roman Catholic Church and bring the Armenians into communion with the Papacy.

Prominent New Julfan families even made a regular tradition of inviting the Shah to their mansions to celebrate Christmas festivities and “Epiphany”, wherein children born up to two months before Christmas were baptized in the Zâyandeh Rûd in the Shah’s presence. Tavernier gives a splendid account of Christmas meals, wherein the Shah’s gold tableware would be transported from the palace to the host’s house along with food from the royal kitchen. After the meal, the Armenians would offer magnificent gifts including large amounts of silver, gold, and valuable gifts of European origin to the Shah in gold basins. But this was nothing much compared to the principle gift that went to the Shah’s mother on Christmas Day.

Si-o-Se Pol (previously Allahverdi Khan bridge) spanning the Zayandeh Rud

The Armenians of New Julfa served as brokers on behalf of Persia in both commercial and political contexts due to their common faith with Christian Europe and their familiarity with the languages and the traditions of the peoples of both East and the West. The provost (kalântar) of New Julfa was chosen to hold official receptions of foreign embassies to Isfahan on the Allahverdi Khan bridge (later renamed Si-o-Se Pol), and the Armenians acted as a welcoming committee often introducing foreign visitors to the court. Hovhannes Vardapet, a native of New Julfa, introduced the first printing press into Persia from Italy, and the first book printed in Iran was the Armenian Saghmos (Psalms) in 1638. It was also the Armenians of New Julfa who reportedly supplied the Shah with 200 modern European firearms—the first of their kind in Iran—during the fall of Isfahan to the invading Ghilzai Afghans in 1722.

Children in traditional Armenian costume, New Julfa, Isfahan (1993)

The Armenian vernacular of Isfahan developed a highly distinct character from other Eastern varieties of the language marked by sound shifts under influence from Persian, retention of Armenian lexical and phonemic archaisms (most notably the alveolar pronunciation of “Ր” as <ɹ> that is highly distinctive of modern-day Isfahani Armenians), and the vast number of Persian loanwords, phrases, and calques (i.e. coll.P tamūm shod o raft → JA verchatsav gnats) that made their way into everyday speech. Among these lexical borrowings was “akhtibar” (from Persian <Arabic e’tebâr, although Armenian pativ and Persian nâmûs also appear in New Julfan documents) to denote the concept of “trust/reputation/credibility”, which served as an honor ranking system that distinguished merchants from their peers and dictated their livelihoods in commercial affairs. Like other mercantile communities, the New Julfans relied on an ethos of trust through kinship ties and marriage in order to carry out business transactions, and thus this system of social trust played a critical role in guaranteeing collective and individual benefits within the network. The New Julfans even created their own calendar, the Azaria Calendar, which began with the year 1615 as year One on the day of the Persian New Year, March 21st, and was used for all New Julfan commercial documents and merchant accounts throughout the world.

Anterior porch of Chehel Sotoun Pavilion, Isfahan

But just a few generations after the foundation of this semi-autonomous Armenian merchant republic, the ethno-religious climate began to darken in Isfahan. A court intrigue-turned-deadly resulted in the murder of the Grand Vizier Saru Taqi on account of embezzlement from the Queen Mother, Anna Khanum (the mother of the still juvenile Shah Abbas II), herself a Circassian convert. The result was the appointment of a religiously intolerant Grand Vizier named Khalifeh Sultan whose sporadic policies of persecution and forced-conversions targeting Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians all but killed these religious minorities and nullified many of the social and economic privileges granted specifically to the merchants of New Julfa by previous Shahs.

In the aftermath of this upheaval in 1671, the majority of the wealthiest merchants permanently left Iran to seek hospice in India, the Ottoman Empire, Poland, Russia, and Italy—where they had strong commercial ties and even owned property. The “kingly” Shafraz family emigrated to Russia, while the Shahrimanian family was granted freedom of customs at Ancona and immediate citizenship in Rome, and were even ennobled as “Counts of the Holy Roman Empire” under titles such as “Conte Marcar” and “Conte Stefano”. The gated, exclusive suburb of New Julfa first transformed into an Armenian quarter and then into something of a Christian ghetto interspersed with Muslim and Zoroastrian families by the end of the 19th century, but Armenians continued to live there under loyalty to the Shah.

Petros di Sargis Gilanentz, a member of one of the twenty prominent Armenian families ruling the civic affairs of the suburb with strong ties to Russia and Venice, reports that during the Afghan invasion of 1722 the invaders forced the New Julfans to supply tens of thousands of satin coats to their army, and they later abducted 62 Armenian girls. After this most grievous blow coupled with the new coercive taxation policies of Nader Shah Afshar in 1747, a few hundred remaining families fled Iran, never to return, and while a number of Armenian merchant families continued to live there, the unique cultural heritage and economic significance of the suburb slowly vanished. Inspired by the wealth of New Julfa, Nader Shah nostalgically attempted to create an Armenian suburb in his new capital Mashhad called Nor Nakhchevan (“New Nakhchivan”), but alas his efforts were in vain.

Clocktower and Statue of Bishop Khachatur, New Julfa, Isfahan

While most of the finest mansions of New Julfa have been pillaged or destroyed since the 17th century beginning with the Afghan invasion in 1722, we can still marvel at the remains of the Sukas House and the House of Khoja Petros in the modern district of New Julfa in Isfahan that combine elements of Persian, Armenian, and Western European architecture and mosaic. Thirteen of the twenty-four churches of New Julfa still remain standing today, most notably Vank Cathedral in the center of the suburb.

Khâne-ye Keshish (Priest’s House) or House of Karapet Giragosian, New Julfa, Isfahan (built early 20th century)

And of course four centuries later, Christmas among the Armenians of Iran is a far more humble but nonetheless delightful celebration. While the story of New Julfa is a gem in the history of Iran and Iranian Armenians, which also includes periods of persecution and forced conversion and migration, it’s a pleasant reminder–a reminder of the diversity and multi-faceted nature of the Iranian identity, the struggles it has toiled with and painstakingly overcome, and the enduring hope of its constituents to rebuild their nation stone by stone on the same platform of universalism and dignity upon which it so elegantly once stood.


From the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean: Circulation and the Global Trade Networks of Armenian Merchants from New Julfa/Isfahan, 1605-1747 — Sebouh D. Aslanian

Slaves of the Shah: New Elites of Safavid Iran – Kathryn Babayan, Sussan Babaie, Ina McCabe, & Massumeh Farhad

“Merchant Capital and Knowledge: The Financing of Early Printing Presses by the Eurasian Silk Trade of New Julfa.” by Ina Baghdiantz-McCabe. In Treasures in Heaven: Armenian Art, Religion, and Society — Pierpont Morgan Library

The Shah’s Silk for Europe’s Silver: The Eurasian Trade of the Julfa Armenians in Safavid Iran and India (1530-1750) – Ina Baghdiantz-McCabe

“Princely Suburb, Armenian Quarter or Christian Ghetto? The Urban Setting of New Julfa in the Safavid Capital of Isfahan (1605-1722)” by Ina Baghdiantz-McCabe. In La Revue des Mondes Musulmans et de la Méditerranée 110, 2005.

“A Seventeenth-Century Typological Cycle of Paintings in the Armenian Cathedral at Julfa” by T.S.R. Boase. In Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, vol. 13

“Julfa Safavid Period” — Vazken S. Ghougassian

The Emergence of the Armenian Diocese of New Julfa in the Seventeenth Century – Vazken S. Ghougassian

“Minorities of Isfahan: The Armenian Community of Isfahan 1587-1722″ by Vartan Gregorian. In Iranian Studies, 1974.

The History of the Revolutions of Persia — Tadeusz Jan Krusinski

“Georgia viii. Georgian communities in Persia” — Pierre Oberling

Observations Sur l’Architecture “Civile d’Ispahan” by Giuseppe Zander. In Iranian Studies, vol. 7: 1974

This article was originally posted at Ajam Media Collective. The article was written by Afsheen Sharifzadeh.

Winter in Isfahan, Safavid-era Bridge “Pol-e Khaju”

It’s January 6th. Yet another snowy winter afternoon in Isfahan, but somehow curiously unlike the rest. A blanket of white fluff cloaks the medieval metropolis and all of its timeless splendor, shielding the antique avenues, turquoise-dome rooftops, cypress tree colonnades, and magnificent bridge arcades from the yearning eyes of even the most impassioned beholder. The puffy white shrouds gather to form a crown atop the Zagros mountains in the distance, setting the scene of a glorious winter wonderland. At midday a few chariots prance through the plaza of the Meydân while the bazaar barons sit reclined, playfully puffing their waterpipes and sipping hot black tea over conversation.

Across the river, a crowd of cheerful, fur-clad folks gathers at the foot of a burgeoning cathedral, summoned there by the alluring sirens of church bells. One by one, amidst a sea of incessant kissing and well-wishing, families scurry in to take photos next to the lavishly decorated pine tree before lighting candles and reading prayers from the Bible. Perhaps some of the little ones are still sleepy from the late-night fireworks, or nostalgically thinking back to the gifts they had asked for atop Dzmer Pap’s (Santa Claus) lap weeks before. Surely nothing a holiday feast’s worth of harissa and mouth-watering Persian food alongside family can’t remedy. The priest breaks bread and pours homemade red wine for his parishioners, and soon the adults are off on the quest to create the perfect dinner party. This is a portrait of a typical Christmas Day among the Armenians of Isfahan, not far off from their brethren in Tehran, Tabriz, Fereydunshahr (P’eria), Urmia, Hamedan, and Los Angeles.

Christmas decorations in a neighborhood in New Julfa, Isfahan

Christmas Shopping in Tehran

The ~120,000 Armenians remaining in Iran today are designated two seats in the Iranian Parliament (Majles) and granted freedom of worship, as well as the right to a Christian, Armenian-language education in private secondary schools. And while the Armenians are certainly adored by their Iranian compatriots at large–with whom their kinship dates back at least nominally to the Aryan invasion of the Near East–they are often overlooked in spite of their centuries-long contributions to their homeland. After all, Armenians were paramount in opening up Persia to the West before the age of Imperialism, and they introduced a number of both Western and Eastern innovations to Iran including European firearms (1722) and the printing press (1636). It was Iranian Armenians who attracted Christian evangelists to open European language schools, including the forerunner to the French-language Jeanne d’Arc Academy in Tehran; who received and hosted European visitors to the capital throughout the Safavid period; and who recruited European instructors to teach at Persia’s first modern institute of higher learning, Dâr ol-Funûn (est. 1851).

Throughout the 19th century, Iranian Armenian tailors and jewelers introduced European fashions, and Armenian photographers and filmmakers were among the first in those professions. A hero from among their ranks, Yeprem Khan, played a pivotal role in the Iranian Constitutional Revolution of 1905, and young Armenians were “martyred” alongside their Muslim brothers during the Iran-Iraq War. Perhaps some of us are more familiar with the big Iranian Armenian names in the Persian music industry like Vigen, Andy, Helen, Martik, Serjik, Elcid, or sports luminaries such as footballer Andranik Teymourian and worldwide tennis idol Andre Agassi, or even Iran’s first female astronomer and physicist, Alenush Terian. It is in light of all of this that the people most aptly call themselves Parskahay (“Perso-Armenian”), as distinct, long-time actors in the dynamic but inclusive nation they call home.

New Years 2011 services at Vank Cathedral, New Julfa, Isfahan

Priest prepares for New Year’s services at Vank Cathedral, New Julfa, Isfahan

But perhaps the most fascinating historical narrative of Iranian Armenians takes us back four centuries, to the Safavid period. Shah Abbas I (ruled 1587-1629) is one of the most celebrated Safavid Kings, in part due to his vision of geopolitical centralization and his reconquest of lost peripheral provinces from the neighboring Ottomans and Uzbeks. But among his most unique contributions was the establishment of a world-class commercial district in his new capital city, Isfahan, wherefrom Iranian silk was exchanged for European silver. What’s more, this district was governed by a private land-owning merchant oligarchy comprised of an independent council and a Christian provost (kalântar) appointed by the Shah, whose vision it was to bypass the land route through the Ottoman Empire and redirect the silk trade through central Iran and the Persian Gulf. It was here in Isfahan that, not unlike the Sephardic Jews of the Ottoman Empire, a group of elite Armenian silk traders were brought to serve as the backbone of the Safavid economy and establish a sphere of commercial and financial transactions in over a hundred cities spanning from Burma, India, and China to Russia, the Ottoman Empire, Venice, Amsterdam, Sweden, and Mexico.

Exterior View of Vank Cathedral- Isfahan, Iran

The Safavids are known to have introduced a considerable number of Caucasian elements into the Persian society, and this phenomenon continued throughout the Qajar period. Ultimately the story of New Julfa represents an aberration from the mercilessness and hardship associated with earlier Caucasian campaigns under Shah Tahmasp I, who forcefully uprooted and oftentimes converted over 70,000 Armenian, Georgian, and Circassian families and resettled them in Gilan, Mazanderan, Fars, and within Isfahan and scattered villages in the city’s environs as part of his destructive scorched-earth policy against Ottoman advances in the Caucasus. Among the war prisoners of Caucasian campaigns, young men were trained as royal pages (ghulâmân-e khâssa or qapı qulları) and came to serve as important constituents of Safavid civil and military administration, while Caucasian women quickly became the favorite concubines of the Safavid harem. Georgian and Circassian Queen-Mothers formed factions and competed to promote their own sons to the throne throughout the Safavid period, and a certain politically-keen Circassian woman named Pari-Khan Khanum acted as a king-maker in two instances in the middle of the 16th century. Krusinski even insists that the influence of Georgian [and Circassian] harem women accounted for the Safavid tolerance of the empire’s Christian population. Of Shah Tahmasp II’s nine sons who reached adolescence, five were born of Caucasian mothers: four Georgians and one Circassian.

Shah Abbas I receiving Vali Muhammad Khan of Bukhara, Chehel Sotun, Isfahan (c.1657)

The narrative of New Julfa, however, is instead a story of planned population movement accompanied by at least outward religious tolerance on the part of the Safavid Porte. In 1605 the Shah issued a farmân, or royal decree, ordering the destruction a wealthy town of Armenian silk traders on the Araxes River called Julfa and forcing its inhabitants on a year-and-a-half exodus to a luxurious custom-designed suburb of the Safavid capital Isfahan. Once there, the deportees would join the empire’s elite and serve as an indispensable organ to the Safavid economy. But despite the exceptional provisions taken by Shah Abbas, the exodus of the Julfans was not an easy one—contemporary accounts such as that of the Armenian chronicler Arak’el of Tabriz detail the plight and suffering of the Julfan Armenians, hundreds of whom perished during the harsh winter they were forced to spend in Tabriz. Over half a century later in 1652, Shah Abbas II would again dispatch troops to the Caucasus with the sole purpose of destroying the ruins of Old Julfa a second time, perhaps to symbolize the finality of the Julfan Armenians’ residence in Isfahan and their indispensable value to the Safavid state.

Interior of Vank Cathedral, New Julfa, Isfahan

Shah Abbas I named this new suburb of Isfahan “New Julfa”, (Nor Jugha in Armenian), which was strategically located across from the Old city and the royal grounds via the iconic Si-o-Se Pol bridge built by the ghulâm Allahverdi Khan Undiladze, himself a Georgian convert and close confidant to the court. The architects of the suburb were ordered to build churches and mansions in the Islamic Persian style, but ultimately the suburb picked up a unique artistic heritage of its own that incorporated many Armenian and Western European elements. Many of the homes were palatial in structure, with formal reception areas, and echoed the lavishness of the Safavid palaces themselves. Indeed contemporary travelers such as Jean Thevénot and Jean-Baptiste Tavernier express awe in their accounts at the wealth and grandeur of this quasi-autonomous Armenian suburb. Gabriel de Chinon, a french traveler to the city, clearly states that apart from the Shah’s palace there was no place as beautiful as the house of the Shafraz family in New Julfa.

Artist’s Rendition of Safavid-era Isfahan, which is typically described as the pinnacle of garden cities interspersed with harmoniously-designed pavilions and spacious thoroughfares

It follows that as the suburb was surrounded by gates, only its intended inhabitants were permitted to live there. Isfahan had grown to be a remarkably cosmopolitan city as the capital of the Safavids, with sizeable communities of Armenians, Georgians, Circassians, Turks, Indians, Jews, Zoroastrians, and also Chinese, Indians, Dutchmen, Spaniards, Englishmen, Italians, Frenchmen, Germans and the like. In time, Isfahan became home to no less than 24 Armenian churches and the Armenian population of New Julfa and scattered villages in the city’s environs grew to include some 50,000 souls. However a vast constituent of Isfahan’s Armenian population in the early 17th century was in fact located across the bridge in the Old City center and had been settled there among Muslims in the aftermath of earlier Caucasian campaigns. These Armenians, who were low-income artisans and laborers, were forbidden from living among the silk merchants in New Julfa. By the mid-17th century, it is related that their “Christian habits” of ringing church bells and wine-drinking had thoroughly irked their Muslim neighbors, who eventually convinced Shah Abbas II to expel them from Isfahan entirely.

Fereydûnshahr (Arm: P’eria, Georgian: P’ereidani, Martqopi), home to a Safavid-era Armenian settlement as well as Iran’s last extant Georgian-speaking community, Isfahan province, Iran

New Julfa thus represents a unique episode of royal favoritism for an ethno-religious minority in Safavid Persia, even vis-à-vis other Armenians in the kingdom. The Shah was bent on maintaining the integrity of the New Julfan community so they would not succumb to the fate of other Caucasian deportees–namely disintegration, assimilation, and social and economic dissolution. By keeping the New Julfans unconditionally content, the Shah was overlooking royal and clerical biases against non-Muslims in order to guarantee economic prosperity for his realm. But while Shah Abbas I came to foster very warm personal relationships with the Armenian merchant families of Isfahan–and the New Julfans quickly reached heights of opulence beyond that imaginable for many of their Muslim counterparts–the future of this delicate diaspora in central Persia was all but certain.



From the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean: Circulation and the Global Trade Networks of Armenian Merchants from New Julfa/Isfahan, 1605-1747 — Sebouh D. Aslanian

Slaves of the Shah: New Elites of Safavid Iran – Kathryn Babayan, Sussan Babaie, Ina McCabe, & Massumeh Farhad

“Merchant Capital and Knowledge: The Financing of Early Printing Presses by the Eurasian Silk Trade of New Julfa.” by Ina Baghdiantz-McCabe. In Treasures in Heaven: Armenian Art, Religion, and Society — Pierpont Morgan Library

The Shah’s Silk for Europe’s Silver: The Eurasian Trade of the Julfa Armenians in Safavid Iran and India (1530-1750) – Ina Baghdiantz-McCabe

“Princely Suburb, Armenian Quarter or Christian Ghetto? The Urban Setting of New Julfa in the Safavid Capital of Isfahan (1605-1722)” by Ina Baghdiantz-McCabe. In La Revue des Mondes Musulmans et de la Méditerranée 110, 2005.

“A Seventeenth-Century Typological Cycle of Paintings in the Armenian Cathedral at Julfa” by T.S.R. Boase. In Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, vol. 13

“Julfa Safavid Period” — Vazken S. Ghougassian

The Emergence of the Armenian Diocese of New Julfa in the Seventeenth Century – Vazken S. Ghougassian

“Minorities of Isfahan: The Armenian Community of Isfahan 1587-1722″ by Vartan Gregorian. In Iranian Studies, 1974.

The History of the Revolutions of Persia — Tadeusz Jan Krusinski

“Georgia viii. Georgian communities in Persia” — Pierre Oberling

Observations Sur l’Architecture “Civile d’Ispahan” by Giuseppe Zander. In Iranian Studies, vol. 7: 1974

The following is a translation from a piece originally published in Mardom Salari and which can also be found on the Persian edition of Iranshahr.

by Masoud Loghman

Three Tajik tourists are making their way across Iran.

After 27 days of traveling on foot through Afghanistan and Eastern Iran, the three travelers have finally arrived in Tehran. From Iran, they will travel to Iraq, then to Saudi Arabia for a pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca, followed by Jordan, Syria, and Turkey. They will then pass through Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Dagestan, Russia, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan, after which they will finally return home.

The head of the group, a retired wrestler named Abdolaziz Rajabof, is known in his hometown of Hamadan, Tajikistan as “Haji Foot.” This is, in fact, his third time to make this journey on foot. His purpose: “To see the world,” he proclaims, and adds, “When, after all, has simply hearing about it ever been enough? We are like Nasir Khusraw on the path to Hajj; we have set off to see the world.”

In his pleasant Tajik accent, the 64-year-old Rajabof says, “When we were making our travel plans, we definitely felt as though we were going abroad, but when we entered Iran, we never felt that we were foreigners; we felt we were in our homeland. The only thing we lack as Tajiks is a remnant of the Soviet period: While our grandmothers and grandfathers spoke Persian with each other and read history books in Persian, Cyrillic suddenly took the place of the Persian script. Therefore, we’re unable to read and write Persian, but we’re hopeful that young Iranians will teach us.” Overjoyed to be in Iran, Haji Foot continues, “We’re very grateful for the hospitality of the Iranian people. In fact, the peoples of Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and the Samarkand and Bukhara regions of Uzbekistan come from a shared heritage in terms of language and culture, although they’ve been separated from one another.”

This freestyle wrestling coach, who says he once had an encounter with (legendary Olympic Gold Medal-winning Iranian wrestler) Gholamreza Takhti and was able to have a chat with him, is hoping to meet with the Iranian president to request assistance in the construction of a “Zurkhane” (or “house of strength,” a kind of gym with a unique athletic and artistic/cultural tradition dating back centuries) in the city of Hamadan, Tajikistan to strengthen relations between Iranian and Tajik athletes.

Rajabov concludes, “Tajikistan is a wellspring of tourist attractions and pleasant natural places. My city, Hamadan, is the resting place of the great Iranian mystic, Mir Seyyed Ali Hamadani. I sincerely hope our Iranian friends come and see it for themselves.

Abdolrahim Habibof, a storied 65-year-old athlete seeing Iran for the first time, speaks fondly of Iran’s streets and architecture. As he told Ghanoon Online, “Our Iranian brothers and sisters in language and culture received us so well; we would love to return the favor by hosting them in Tajikistan sometime.

Sangaki Abdolqader, the youngest of the three-member group, in response to being asked what his favorite place in Iran was, replied, “I’ve been reading about Omar Khayyam, Ferdowsi, Abdolrahman Jami, Fakhr al-Din al-Razi, Hafez, and Sa’di since I was a child. The greatest thing was the pilgrimage we made to the resting places of these great poets. Omar Khayyam puts it better than I ever could:

Should only one breath pass your lips
Let it not pass but in delight
But wary be, of this world’s abundances
Simply a life lived is one of substance

So as you pass the time, savor life, and take no breath for granted. Especially for me, a 20-year-old, this journey is the best way to have a chance to see so many places and speak with others. What more could one ask for? The Iranian people accepted us as friends, brothers, and countrymen. Not even once did I feel a stranger in Iran; I’m in my fatherland, and this place is like home to us. Truly every Tajik must see Iran, and every Iranian must see Tajikistan.”

Iranshahr is back!

Posted by cameron On 15 - October - 2012

Dorood bar shoma!

Hello and greetings to you, dear Iranshahr English readers. Iranshahr is back after a long vacation, and the main section (Persian) is in full swing. We here at the English section (and by “we” I mean “me”) will be linking to Iranian studies articles from across the web or, when possible, translating articles from our beloved colleagues at the Persian edition. Please check back here periodically as we will be bringing you interesting selections from the world of Iranian studies as often as possible!

Will writing in ancient Iran, part I

Posted by M. Jafroodi On 5 - December - 2011

Masoud Loghman- Sherwin Vakili is one of the distinguished young professors at the University of Tehran.

As an investigator, who has dedicated his life to his researches and analysis, his main concern has always been redefining the concept of Iranian Identity and Persian Self.

The following text is the first part of an interview with him, in which he expresses his points of view about will writing in ancient Iran.

It seems that even in the ancient times, there were some men wise enough to understand the concept of death and to accept it as their certain fate.

Yes. That’s true. In fact, that’s why the invention of writing systems and the emergence of civilization coincide with the appearance of some texts that reflect a certain kind of, what I call it, “death management”. Today, we mostly classify these texts as deeds of endowment or wills; however, this is exactly what should not be done, when it comes to the ancient sciences.

“Death management”; what a nice combination! Now, will you please tell us what similarities do you see between these texts that, according to you, have managed the death of their authors?

First of all, they are all personal texts. They all are pronounced by a specific person and they all reflect his or her personal hopes and desires. In other words, the personal and intimate wishes of the author of a so called will, as well as his or her final solicitudes and hopes, make these texts completely unique and especial.

Secondly, all these text are somehow connected to the concept of death. A will does not limit itself to simply orders and requests; it includes some kind of commands and petitions that are directly connected to the concept of death. A will manifests the hopes and the desires of a person who is facing death. That’s why all these texts resemble the elegance and formidableness of death, as well as its mysterious and tickling essence.

So, why do we normally classify these texts as religious ones?

Look, in a normal life, desires are the prisoners of time. Time is the thing that builds the life of people. To be more specific, life is the only context in which desires can come true. If someone asks for something which is placed outside of his or her dominated territory of life, this wish would be considered something unordinary and strange. This internal paradox can be the reason why many cultures classify wills as religious texts.

Let’s get back to the main subject of our discussion. As you know, Iran has a documented record of 5000 years. By the other hand, enjoying from 26 centuries of political unity, along with cultural and identical harmony, in comparision with its strong rivals, China and India, this nation is considered the oldest civilization of the world which has managed to survive constantly during all these time. Considering this, I imagine that within such context, we should expect ancient methods of will writing.

Yes, actually, that’s exactly the case here. In Iran, even before the emergence of Cyrus the Grate and the unification of the country, we do see some very interesting samples of wills.

The most ancient wills written in Iran probably belong to the oriental and occidental margins of its territory. Some ancient works from Sumer and Elam prove the existence of this tradition. Those scattered pieces that concern ordinary people are just simple inscriptions, which mostly reflect the pattern of wealth distribution among the heirs. These texts remain scattered until the middle ages of the second millennium. They also have a simple and shallow content. It seems that the person who is facing death limits all his desires and wishes to the simple task of determining the destiny of his or her wealth and thus, satisfying the basic needs of his or her heirs.

Even though, from the second half of the second millennium, which coincide with the rise of Hittites in Anatolia, Haniglabats in Mesopotamia and Kassites in Babylonia, a completely distinct method of will writing came to existence. The first Aryan governments in the region were formed in the same era. Also, this was the era in which the cultural, religious and lingual elements of what we today call it the Indo Iranian identity were established. The longest and the most interesting will which was written during this period is the one written by the powerful king of the Hittites, Hattusilis the first (1650- 1620 B.C.), the king who left his son a very united and powerful nation.

Can you tell us what is written in this will?

Of course! This is a political will written just like others. It addresses Hattusilis’s son as well as the nation. In this text the king humbly reads:

“Behold, Mursilis is now my son. In the place of the lion the god will set up a lion… after three years, he shall go to war… if you take him with him on a campaign while he is still a child, bring him back safe… Until now no one in (my family) has obeyed me. Mursilis, you must obey me. Keep my words. If you keep your father’s word you’ll be fed. When maturity finds you eat two or three times a day, and enjoy yourself. When old age is within you, then drink to satiety. Then you can set aside your father’s words. My grandfather appointed his son as the governor of Sanahuita. But the servants and the aristocrats ignored the king’s word and replace him with Papa Dilmah. How long has it passed since then? What happened to the house’s of those aristocrats? Where did they go? Were they destroyed?

Why is these will so important?

In fact this will has various important aspects. What should be considered while studying this will are the subjects pointed by a king, who is facing death. The destiny of the crown is clearly his main concern. Hattusilis has addressed his family status and has intended to explain himself by mentioning names and bringing up examples. His will follows all the patterns of an ordinary will in the second millennium B.C.

How about Iranian kings? Did they also take the same road?

Yes. In the very same era, the kings of Babylonia, Elam, Assur y Egypt shared political and moral views in their wills. In the same time, they also addressed their heirs, the people and the aristocrats. Being so, their text became a mixed one which can be categorized as a Book of Government, a book of advices or a will.

Is there any information about the will of ordinary people in this period?

Although we have much little information regarding your question, it seems that they also used to address their heirs according to the same pattern.

To be continued…

Original text: http://iranshahr.org/?p=9984

Iran before the history (Part I)

Posted by M. Jafroodi On 23 - January - 2011

By Bahram Roshan Zamir

It took archeologists more than 150 years to finally discover a very old civilization in Iran.

As we know, Copper was first used about 5500 B.C. by some old civilizations that were formed in river valleys. Among these we can refer to Elam or Susiana civilization, which were formed beside the Karun River, situated in Kuzestan Province, southwest of Iran; Jiroft civilization in southern province of Kerman and the civilization of the Burned City (known) as Shahre Sukhte, in Persian in the southeastern province of Sistan and Baluchistan. The history of all these civilizations goes back to 5000 years ago. However, the Elamite civilization is the only one which managed to survive for millenniums.

In the second millennium BC, the Elamite Kingdom was a powerful rival for Mesopotamian governments.

The Elamites destroyed the city of Ur about 2000 BC. Subsequently, they exerted great influence on the rulers of Babylonia. After the capturing Babylonia in 1595 BC, by the Kassites (A prior Aryan ethnic group) however, the country suffered a political decline for about 350 years.

Elam experienced a political revival under King Shutruk-Nahhunte I (reigned about 1160 BC), who conquered Babylonia, deposed the Kassite dynasty, and placed his son on the throne. King Shilhak-Inshushinak (r. about 1140 BC), a great administrator and patron of arts and sciences, created a powerful Kingdom. Under his rule and the other king, Untash-Napirisha the borders were greatly extended, the literary use of the Elamite language was revived, and an architectural and sculptural renaissance took place. Dor-Untash, the city of the king and the huge temple of Inshushinak, the great God of Elam, as the tallest Mesopotamian style temples (Zigurat) in the ancient world, was built by those kings in Khuzestan (Called Zigurat-Choghazanbil). And it does exist until today as the oldest World Heritage Site in Iran.

In last years of the 12th century BC, Nebuchadnezzar I, Babylonian Great King conquered Elam. Since then, Elam disappeared for more than 3 centuries. However, the Kingdom rose again. It was after then when the Assyrian Empire – the first empire of the history- invades Susa and destroyed the whole city and its sacred temples forever.

In the second millennium BC, the Aryans entered Iran territory, bringing with themselves the treasure of Indo-Iranian languages.

The name Iran derives from the word “Airyana”. This word is used in the Avesta- the holy book of Zoroastrians- dating 3000 years ago (maybe more) and changed to “Aryan-Shatr” and “Iran-Shatr” in the first centuries A.D. and finely ended in “Iran” in Firdowsi’s shahname.

In the first millennium BC, some tribes of the Iranians moved gradually into the mountains area of Zagros, neighboring the Elamites in south, Assyrian empire in west and some other prior Aryans and non-Aryans in north.

The Scholars divides them to three parts. The Medes settled in north western, west and center of Iran, the Persians in south western and the Parthians in north eastern of Iran.

The reason is that these three major groups constructed 3 -Fourth, fifth and Sixth- “great eastern monarchies” (As English historian, Henry Rawlinson named) From 8th Century BC, to 3th Century A.D and after that the national-religious Empire of Iran was built by Ardeshir Babakan, called the Sassanid Empire, longing for 430 years. It ended in 650 A.D. the year that Yazdgerd III- the last Zoroastrian king of Iran- was murdered. And Muslim Arabs’ conquer was completed in Iran.

To be continued…

3 -Fourth, fifth and Sixth- “great eastern monarchies” (As English historian, Henry Rawlinson named) From 8th Century BC, to 3th Century A.D and after that the national-religious Empire of Iran was built by Ardeshir Babakan, called the Sassanid Empire, longing for 430 years. It ended in 650 A.D. the year that Yazdgerd III- the last Zoroastrian king of Iran- was murdered. And Muslim Arabs’ conquer was completed in Iran.

To be continued…

Liberation of the Meaning; A Systematic Approach

Posted by M. Jafroodi On 12 - January - 2011

by Sherwin Vakili

1. At first, this text was supposed to be a critical inqiuery on Foucault’s lecture “L’ordre du discourse” (Foucault,1971), and its core question, which is about  the mechanisms and processes that suppress the discourse and differentiates  the serious, authentic and creditable statements from ordinary, low level speech.

Meditating on this question, and evaluating Foucault’s brilliant answers critically,  a new answer poped out which is more related to complex systems theory and systemic  approach toward sociology, rather than Foucaudian archeology/ geneology. And by this reformulation of the question, this paper emerged as an answer. Before starting our discussion, some considerations must be made to illuminate   the writer’s philosophical presumptions and the theoretical paradigm used to deal with the problem.

As mentioned, the main question of our debate is the influences of power on discourse.

Looking through the mechanisms responsible for top/pop discourse discrimination  is a fruitful method for understanding the patterns of power dynamics. The rules  that govern the boundary formation between the vulgar dialogues of the pop and  intellectual monologue of the cultural reference group, are from a special point  of view, a good laboratory to analyze the power/truth interconnections.

The presupposition that there is an important and determinative interrelation between   these two entities, has a long history. From Protagoras to Neitzsche and Foucault,  some semi-anarchic thinkers believed that transcendental pure essence of the  crystallized truth and rationality is a myth and human interests, along with  power relations are determinative forces shaping the truth. Here, we accept this irritative assumption, and therefore believe that asking about power’s limitative functions on truth formalizing systems (language/discourse)is meaningful.

So, by a Foucaudian vocabulary, the core question of “what determines the value  of a discourse?” can be interpreted to “what are the disciplinary mechanisms  acting on the discourse?” (Foucault, 1979). For dealing with such a taboo inquisition, first of all we should clarify our own theoretical background. This text is written in a systemic paradigm. The systems  theories in sociology, whose best known defender was Niklas Luhmann, is a multidisciplinary holistic approach towards the dynamics,structures and functions of the society, when it be analyzed as an evolutionary autopoietic system. Nowadays, the Luhmannian  formulation of this theory is the most influential. Although, we are all in  debt of Luhmann’s deep and thoughtful interpretations of the social phenomena,  our own systemic model bifurcates from his in some points, especially in the  course of definition ofsubjectivity and its place and importance in our systemic  model.

Our aim here is neither dealing with Luhmann’s ideas, nor commenting on Foucault’s approach. Instead, we try to look into the problem of “meaning exclusion” via power procedures, through our own systemic model of culturalevolution. The theoretical base of this text is a special version of systemic sociology, which is called “theory of the Manesh-ha”, proposed lately as a M.Sc thesis (Vakili,  2002 [B]). This theory, is under the influence of Luhmann’s systemic sociology  (Luhmann,1995), and backed up by a multidisciplinary approach, especially the  sociobiological view of E.O.Wilson (Wilson,1995) and fantastic insights of Richard  Dawkin’s memetics (Dawkins,1989).

Here is no time and space for restating the methodological odds and ends of this   model and showing its applications in the field of cultural studies. Therefore,  it will suffice to mention the main points of this theory:

A) In this theory, we define Manesh as the quantum of cultural dynamics. A Manesh is a autonomous, replicative system that exists as a subsystem of a symbolic/semantic  apparatus -such as natural language. The natural neural networks -specially human brains- act as their natural dwellings. So, each Manesh’s informational  structure is essentially coded as a pattern of neural activation. These systems  change the behavioral patterns of their hosts, and replicate through communicative  channels. Their semantic or syntactic content change randomly through time,  via internal or external variables. These structural oscilations are functionally  equal to genetic mutations in biological replicators.

B) Culture, in the theory of the Manesh-ha is defines as a field of interconnecting assemblages of Maneshes, that can interact with each other because of their  communicative code-meaning resemblance. So, culture can be formulated as an  meta-evolutionary field, containing a complicated array ofevolutionary replicating  systems. So, we may think of two different hierarchical layers of evolutionary  processes in a social system: processes related to bodies -biological evolution-  and those linked with maneshes –cultural evolution.

C) Natural selection in Maneshes acts via the hedonistic factor of pleasure and reward (Vakili, 2002 [A]). It means that replicatory success of a Manesh -which  represents its duration and evolutionary fitness- is determined basically by  its statistical ability to create pleasure in its host-brain.

D) Pleasure is itself an ancient system for encoding biological fitness, so the      evolutionary success of the physiological bodies and semantic contents of their  brians (Maneshes) link via this unified field of natural selection. This brief review of the main assumptions of the Theory of the Manesh-ha, may illuminate our means and goals. In the systemic paradigm, we tolerate the paradoxes  and dialectic concept counterbalances. This seems compatible with Foucault’s  ideal formulations (Foucault, 1978), but in the other hand, we do not share  his furious opposition to meta-narratives (Foucault, 1991). In systemic approach,  we accept the incomplete and non-deterministic nature of the scientific theorization,  but we keep trying to reach the most integrated and compatible rational model,

which then will become the dominant narrative according to evolutionary laws.

So, we are not supposed to content ourselves with a mere descriptive answer  to the problem of meaning exclusion –as Foucault does- and try to extract a  liberative methodology, which is somehow systematically present in the “L’ordre  du discourse” (Foucault,1971).

2. Let’s start our survey by a less an ambitious question: “How can we define  the meaningful discourse in the theory of the Manesh-ha?”

For answering this question, we need the concept of phase space.  Phase space is a theoretical N dimensional space, whose each axis represents one   special variable influential in the dynamics of our subject of observation. Each  subject matter in the CST can be analyzed as a system, with its specificdynamic  parameters and determinative variables. So, we can define a phase-space for  any system. For example, the phase space for a simple projectile with four variables  (initial velocity, mass, gravitational force, and air resistance),is four dimensional.  Each moment of the projectile in this hypothetical space can be shown by a single  point, and if we add time as the fifth axis, we can show its whole path by a  single line in this space. This line, representing the passage of the system  through all possible choices, is called a trajectory. The system is called simple  or linear if the pattern and form of its trajectory could be formulized by differential  equations. Otherwise, it is complex, and if there be some undetermined parts  in it, we call it chaotic. Chaotic systems are complex entities whose trajectory  is irregular and unpredictable, but usually locally patterned. The pattern of  these combinations of lawful fragments and its chaotic joints to other such  pieces is determined by synergetic regularities, emerging from complex structure  of the system and making its autopoietic behavior possible.

In complex systems, we always observe a high level of indeterminacy, which is an effect of system’s high degree of freedom. Degree of freedom can be modeled  on the phase space as trajectory points in which the system possess more than  one behavioral choice. Theses points are called symmetry(or Curie) points.

System at these points select one of the choices possible, and because of the  symmetry -or equipotentiality/ equiprobablity- of the choices, no external observer  can foresee its behavior after the Curie point. As an imaginative representation, we may say that trajectory at the symmetry point breaks to two or more probable continuities. This phenomena is called

bifurcation, and is a sign of the systems indetermincy. System at the symmetry  point choose its own behavior. In this special domains of phase-space the internal  variables abruptly dominate the external factors, that’s why the exact form  of the trajectory at these areas become vague and unpredictable. Systems when  reached the symmetry points, have to pass it anyway, because one of their phase  space ingredients is temporal dimension. So whether decidedly and thoughtfully  or arbitrarily and randomly, the system chooses at the symmetry points, and  through this act “breaks the symmetry” .Breaking the symmetry is another definition  for information creating. So, complex systems by traversing their ramified trajectories,  continually break the symmetry and by reducing their past tense behavioral ambiguity,  create the information that is used for increasing their internal complexity.

It is the simplest interpretation of Luhmann’s “increasing the internal complexity  by the cost of decreasing the external ambiguity”.  Psychological states -such as hesitation- and sociological mass movements such      as mobs are good examples for indeterminacy and symmetry breaking of complex  systems. The information created through this process is understood as the memories  of the person or society of its deeds. Psychological systems are conditioned  by the -hedonistically defined- victories or failures in reaching their goals,  which are always pleasure related in our model (Vakili, 2002 [A]). In each system, we may define one or more equilibrium states that can be represented by some points on the phase space. These points are energetically, thermodynamically,  or functionally optimal and economical. So the trajectory near these points  bends toward the nearest one, and remains there until an external force rides  them out of this “potential well”. These points are called attractors.

3. Now, after this brief review of Manesh-ha’s theory concepts, we may turn to our central problem. What is the meaningful discourse and how is it determined   and differentiated?

Let’s start with a simple model.

Assume that in a illeterate society such as S, the only communicative channel available is oral language of L. If L is composed of words with maximum length   of phonems, propositions with the maximum length of B words, and units of communicative    action with the maximum C propositions interchanged, Then Communicative sphere    of the S can be modeled as a phase space such as S, in which:

I) Possess C dimensions,

II) Whose dimensions are not simple lines representing unique parameters, but a chunked independent phase space with B dimensions,

III) Again, whose dimensions are not simple lines, but a chunked independent phase space with A dimensions,

We call this complicated phase space, with its interwoven multi-layer subspaces,  a “hierarchical phase space”. This kind of phase space, although hard to bear in mind, is theoretically definable.   We may model this space with computer techniques and solve some of our analyticalquestions by its aid. In this paper, for the sake of simplicity, we just represent  the two or three dimensional shadows of this ultra-phase-space. More precise analysis of such a phase space can be done with the matrix formulations.

Now, think of a bipole simple dialogue in the S. Each of the speakers, due to their socially based, internalized rules of dialogue -like what ethnomethodologists  like to mention- produce strings of lingual signs. Each string combined of meaning-carrier  words which shape the propositions. We can show each string by a point in our  simplified ultra-phase space. By this method, we may represent all possible  communicative actions in our model by interconnected lines.

Linguists have shown us that all the phonological combinations available in our phase space is not instrumental. The realms of language L is a subspace of S,  where the linguistic rules of the phonem/word/proposition combinatorials govern.

We have a succession of one hundred G’s in S, but this is not ausable word

of the L. Pronunciability, simplicity, discriminatibility and referentiality

are the key concepts that differentiates the meaningful subspace of L, from

the non-lingual background parts of S.

We may extract the meaningful subspace of s as an incarnation of the L in the S, by taking the criteria of referentiality. Each point of S that refers to something,  and so means something, belongs to s. We may understand s as the phase space  of the meaning in the society S. In a dialogue, all of the pseudo-lingual strings  outside s assess as meaningless and therefore non-communicative. These non-interpretable  strings are called “noise” in the information theory.

The meaning phase space of s is defined in a society, rather than on an individuals. Each individual -depended on his or her unique life experiences-has access  to a special domain of s. Most parts of the S is infamiliar to anormal speaker  of a language. Scientific concepts, juridical idioms, a great deal of ethnic  or class slangs, and many regional famous sayings are completely  unpalpable  for a simple user of the language.

For example, if Persian language possesses sixty thousand words, anormal literate  native speaker of this language uses around six thousand of them in his ordinary  life. It means that only ten percent of the s in this individual is used. In  other words, s possesses sixty thousand points representing the words that each  individual just access to a subspace of it, which amount ten percent of its  volume.

Production of the meaningful speech is governed by exactly the same laws. Rules of the conjugation determine the pattern of word formation and the laws of syntax  reign the kingdom of propositions, the same can be told about the discourses  and rhetorical traditions. So, we have some generative rules that determine  the structure of s in each hierarchical level.

Our abstract model can be better understood with an example. In Persian, we have an alphabetical system containing 32 letters. If maximum length of a word in Persian  be 20 letters, maximum length of each proposition be 30words, and maximum length  of each unit of discourse be 500 propositions, then the phase space for Persian  discourse will possess 500 dimensions, eachof its dimensions composed of a  30 dimensional space, whose each dimension is in turn a 20 dimensional space  itself. It is the meaning of our ultra-phase-space. As mentioned, just a subspace  of this complex imaginary apparatus is instrumentally available as a discursive  playground.

The boundaries between the meaningful s and the remainder of meaningless S is  not rigid and static. The emergence of s out of S and its changes is a synergetic  phenomena. The language as a whole, and its discursive parts are dynamic evolutionary  systems, which are invented, used and revised by the individuals to be adaptive  to their cognitive and communicative needs.

4. By this systemic description of the meaningful discourse, it comes to light that in each society (S), in each social condition, only an extravagant limited part  of the whole symbolic phase space is available due to each individual as meaningful,  appropriate and useful communicative choices. The individual’s field of selection  by this means is reduced to a controled, predetermined and purified assembly  of traditionally benign choices. Other possibilities are ruled out as impolite,  irrelevant, irrational, and insane, as Foucault categorizes them. This pattern  of choice reduction leads to a shrunken semantic phase space, whose actual choices  are limited to a few traditionally predetermined cases. This mutilated field  of availabality in the semantic sphere can be called the “permissible field”,

which is different from the prohibited part which was ruled out.

This reduced form of semantic phase space, although shrunken and folded, is still complicated enough to bear misunderstandings, errors, and parole mistakes, as  well as trickeries and lies. We actually oversimplified the essence of natural  language in our model by neglecting the paralocutionary symbols, voice stresses  and elements of body language. As a matter of fact, our three layered model  of lingual phase space is linked with so many other paralingual and meta-lingual  symbolic systems that our theoretical endeavor means nothing more than a local  oversimplified structure useful just as an methodological guide.

Our core question, if be reminded, was about mechanisms and causes that differentiate the permissible from prohibited subsystems of semantic phase-space. This is  systemic interpretation of the same challenge introduced by Foucault in his  “L’ordre du discourse” .We may define the cultural elements (maneshes) as evolutionary, autopoietic informational systems included in this semantic sphere. So, the rules that govern the order  of the discourse, discriminates the allowed, benign and -economically or politically-  useful Maneshes, from deviant, ill-minded, and wasteful elements. The pattern  of this differentiation is dominated by the power relations in the society,  which regulate and control the distribution of these meaningful elements, and  by this means determines their fitness, and shapes the portrait of the cultural  identity. Our central challenge, so, is to understand the processes that determine  this pattern of inclusion or exclusion, absorbtion or excretion, and selecting  or discarding.

5. Reason is the weaponry of an animal without the teeth and claws, as Neitzsche teaches us. By accepting such an axiom -which is taboo neither in systems theory  nor Foucault’s paradigm- we should ask about the evolutionary causes and effects  that shaped the structure of the reason, or any other configuration of laws  responsible for demarkating the border of permissible discourse. There must  be a functional explanation that justifies the unique and special structure  of this boundary, or a description that formulates our knowledge limitations  about this phenomena. If there is something stablet hroughout the history of  this semantic exclusion -even for a few centuries as Foucault’s episteme,- there

must be an explanation about its evolutionary gains as well. We shall search  for the costs and benefits of any special pattern of permissible discourse delimitation. In the Theory of Manesh-ha, a social system is described as a four layer hierarchic  complex entity which contains, according to a revised version of Parsons’ original  cybernetic view (Parsons, 1951), a biological, psychological, social and cultural  levels (Vakili,2002 [B]).

In each of these layers there is a complicated network of interwoven phenomena   that as a whole make up the bodies, personalities, societal organizations, and  cultural identities respectively. We may use the abbreviation of BPSC as a shortening  form of these levels’ names. The differences of these levels is summed up in  the table-1.

Social system, alike any other evolutionary system, is dwelling on a fragile border between order and chaos. Entropic principle, along with random malfunctions  which are determined statistically by internal or external factors, always threaten  the system, against which there is no armor in the system but its autopoietic  potential. Any process -in each of these functional levels-that help this self-organizing,  anti-chaotic battle is welcomed by the blind laws of natural selection. Social  systems pass through the discrete points of a fractal shaped, complicated attractor.  The points that posit near equilibrium points, but not overlapping them. (By  the way, isn’t it true that the thermodynamic equilibrium is biologically a  synonym of death?) So, we may say that social systems roam along a near equilibrium  attractor, jumping from a local, temporal point on the attractor line to the  other. This is the process that is called autopoietic behavior, and here is  the key to understand the evolutionary increase of the system’s complexity.

We already know some of the rules that make up the backbone of such a strange structure. We know that there is a brutal natural selection process active in  the whole system. There is at least one set of selective criteria that links  to the biological level, and acts on genomic combination, due to the species  natural history. In the theory of the manesh-ha, another set of selection rules  is assumed at the cultural level. In this level the selection action the semantic  entities through changing the distribution of the maneshes in the population.

So, we may think of two interdependent sets of selective criteria; the biological  inclusive fitness, and the cultural semantic fitness, which is the bedrock of  permissible discourse definition. In the field of discourse analysis, what is crucial is society’s stability in the psychological and sociological levels. It means that semantic combinations, meanings,   symbols and discursive entities that guard the mental and economico-political  states are favourable in the process of natural selection.These are the discursive  elements that can be intentionally evaluated by twointerconnected criteria.

In psychological level, our standard for absorbing or discarding of the meaning  is good old pleasure, and in the sociological level It is measured by the power  equations. These factors need a formalistic apparatus to be measured, compared  and evaluated, and that’s why so many parallel systems of pleasure/power codifications  have been emerged throughout history. Monetary systems, codes of nobility,  symbols of luxury, and titles and aristocratic medallions of honor are all sublanguages  invented to code these essential variables. These are the socially based equivalents  of the biological neuropeptidergic system that codes the pleasure in the brains.

By this symbolic structure of the value-meanings, popular understanding of the good vs. evil, pleasant vs. painful, useful vs. useless, and benign vs. malignant  become possible. By the aid of this artificial table of the codes, and this  shrunken semantic phase space, people gain the possibility to reducetheir own  numerous behavioral choices to a limited set of estimable normative action programmes.  These actions should not threaten the social/psychological stability. Therefore  nothing risky, new and creative is permissible. You should not ask about  the validity of the dogma, doubting about the commonsensical facts, and acting  creatively farther than a normative threshold.

This means a practical behavioral algorithm for each individual. Anyone and is criminate the important, rational, useful, sane, and allowed choices by this way, and  then there remains just the decomplicated act of choosing which is usually programmed  itself by the traditions, mass media and propaganda. The cultural elements,  or maneshes, that control these pleasure/power codification and govern the holistic  dynamics of other maneshes are among the discursive elements themselves. They  are semantic systems that claim the truth about other semantic systems. They  are ingredients of the cultural levelthat act as an internal attractor and  determine the distribution of other meneshes. They are the landmarks that demark  the permissible discourse boundaries.

These regulative maneshes, are selected so that their influence on the social dynamism -in all BPSC four levels- maintain the stability of the system. So,  the meanings that are dangerous for bodies (such as suicide and homicide instructions),  personalities (anxieties and some philosophical doubts), societal (all interactions  that are not winner-winner), and cultural (low fitness maneshes), must be diminished  and filtrated.

6. There are four main manesh-fitness-determining criteria that can be extracted  from four layers of BPSC. A) In biological level, the evolutionary discriminator of the permissible/non-permissible discourse-knowledge is the ancient rule of reductiuon. The substantial passion  for reducing all the cognitive elements in hand to one or a few well-known entities,  is the best manifestation of this pattern. Nervous systems, along with biological  sensitivities, have an innate limitation in surveying the multidimensional and  overcrowded external word. Solving of this so-many-stimuli-and-so-few-receptors  problem is simply possible by categorizing the stimuli and reducing each of  them to an outstanding code.

Generalization of this simple technique  have been  led to a huge body of theorization about our experiences. From Ionian philosophers and   their arxh to our up to dated quantum mechanics, all are based on the strict  methods of reductionist approach.

B) In psychological level, what is important is the integration and unity of the heterogeneous set of the cognitive and emotional phenomena which are configurated  in a first person singular identity of the self. So, the myth of a unifying,  integrated entity which can be called “I” emerges through this psychological  need. All cognitive or emotional inputs that constitute incongruent or paradoxical  patterns inside the psychological level can be assessed as a threat for the  stability of the personality, and therefore must be abandoned and excluded.

As we know from psychophysiological discoveries (Braude,1991), this sort of absolutely congruent and all integrated psychic system is a cognitive illusion rather than  an objective fact. So, the most important factors that should be diminished  in our black list of threatening paradoxes, are the epistemological doubts and  dilemma that point us the illusive nature of this integration. That is why normative  cognition is based on a unified, self-congruent field of knowledge, and our  aims and dreams are seemingly ordered in such a self-consistent formal system  as well.

The passion for integration is not limited to this level. It reflects in the  social level as economical, political or organizational desire toward solidification.  In cultural level we may touch its echo as the self organizing behavior of the maneshes   that leads to the interconnections and unification of the semantic elements  to form huge systems of thoughts, fields of theorizing, or epistemic paradigms  as Foucault mentions.

C) In the social level, the main phenomena observable is the symbolic interaction,    or by Luhmann’s terminology, communicative action(Luhmann,1995). Success of  the system’s functions in this level is depending on vividness and accuracy.  What is important in a communicative action is meaning interchange, and this  becomes possible via a transparent, unambiguous discourse. So the discursive  elements must be filtrated, purified and simplified so that the meaning send  by the interrogator be understood similarly by the audience, and this calls  for precision.

D) In the cultural level, we confront a new self sustaining evolutionary system.      The maneshes, whose vague synonym may be assumed as cultural elements, are replicatory systems with mutable information contents that effect on their carriers/hosts  behavioral pattern and by this means determine their pleasure/fitness. These  semantic units -the same as all other evolutionary systems- compete with each  other for resources and niches. Their niches are human brains and their resources  are communicative channels. What is important for a manesh is winning the match  of natural selection and find a suitable opportunity for replication. The effective instrument for achieving this goal, is itself of a semantic essence.

Human hosts absorb and propagate the maneshes that increase their pleasure/lifespan.  Because of ultra-complicated nature of the cultural level, there is no direct  linkage between a unique manesh and the evolutionary/hedonistic gains of it.  Maneshes like communications, personalities and bodies, act throughout a complex  network of interactions and mutual causalities. This means that an individual  have no objective clue for estimating the value of a special manesh. The only  useful information actually originates from the semantic structure of the manesh  itself, and manesh’s claims about its usefulness, that is usually echoed by  the eager fans. So, the claim for deepness, seriousness, importance and truth  is the crucial factor in the cultural level.

7. So far we have analyzed the fitness variables and stability factors effective in a socio-cultural system and showed that there is four semantic attractors,  which govern the systems dynamic in each of BPSC hierarchical layers. These  factors were respectively simplicity (by reduction), integration (by congruence establishment), accuracy (by conventional precision) and importance (by claiming  vitality).

These four semantic attractors lead to four evolutionary strategies in the semantic  behavior of social systems. These are the factors that differentiate the permissible  discourse from the non-important, ambiguous, paradoxical and enigmatic. This  four-layered system of meaning demarcation creates four ways of exclusion and  mutilation of the meaning, each based on an illusionary axiom. For the sake  of simplicity, we mention them here by metaphoric names.  A) Illusion of simplicity and its reductionist methodology leads to “Senemar      complex”. The name of this case is borrowed from an old Arabian story which  is about a royal architect -Senemar- who had built a palace for the king of  Yemen, that could be ruined by displacing a singular brick in its wall. The  passion of reducing all the weights of the theoretical structures to a unique  center of semantic gravitation is a prominent diagnostic of this illusion.

B) Illusion of integration bears the Marduk complex. Is is the name of the great Babylonian god, who became the Lord of the gods because of conquering the Tiamat,  the god of chaos. Marduk complex is equal to dogmatic belief in order, lawfulness,  and regularity of the world, which is usually thought understandable and formalizable.

C) Illusion of accuracy makes up the Aristotle complex. Content of this complex  is based on identity principle that claims static nature of the universe. there  is no change or metamorphosis, outside the secure realm of the Marduk’s laws.  As Foucault mentions by his own terminology, this complex as been dominant  from seventeenth century on (Foucault, 1970) by increasing the symbolic elements  of scientific language and decreasing its semantic field, which makes the predetermined  and controled conventional interconnections possible.

D) Illusion of importance may be called Plato complex, because of his insist      on deepening and idealizing of the meaningful codes, as well as his claim of  political power due to this potentiality (Popper,1981). This complex is specially effective because by its claim of importance and seriousness,   it links discourse with power and sums up all four illusions in a regular and  consistent pattern of belief. Anywhere we encounter their regularities, counter

examples and paradoxes, they may be eliminated by referring to our own superficial  and insufficient intellectual efforts, not the invalidity of our axioms. By this  means, the cognitive system based on these four complexes become stable and  criticism-proof.

8. Permissible discourse is produced by a disciplinary system which is constructed

by these four complexes. Its self-recursive nature, which is a present from  uncle Plato, is its stronghold. The consequences of this demarcating system  are qccurately mentioned in the Foucault’s “The Order of Discourse”, and can  be geneologically analyzed by the aid of his famous model of episteme transformations.  The sincerity toward truth, the domination of the author, mathematism and empiricism  are all manifestations of these four complexes. the idolatry of the truth can  be derived from Platonic complex. The demand for referring the discourse to a  known and familiar author is a consequence of the Aristotle complex. empiricism  and mathematism are respectively up to Marduk and Senemar complex. So we can  see that Foucault’s pathology of discourse formation is deductable from our own systemic

model, added to a new and more analytic theoretical apparatus.(You see, even  in a critical text like this the claim of credit refers to the illusions listed  above, that is why building a new analytical construction is so good and brilliant).

Our systemic model differs the Foucaudian paradigm in these points:

A) First of all, in systemic models we do not deny the principle of continuity.  We think about some of the patterns and structures as long lived, almost permanent  specificities of the social system. Of course this continuity in terest does  not lead to structuralist’s dogma about its generality and unchangability. Foucault’s  warnings about the simplicity and insufficiency of the metaphysical continuity  presumption, although interesting and useful, is not believed as a discreteness-centered  counter-metaphysics. In other words, from systemic point of view, continuation  is a theoretical assumption rather than an onthologic one, which is useful for  analyzing systems of thought –Foucault himself included- properly.

B) We do not share Foucauldian deep aversion of metanarratives (Dreyfus& Rabinow, 1989). In systems theory, we are aiming to build up a consistent, pervasive  theoretical model to justify the patterns and discriminate the regularities.  This goal is the same as other paradigmatic models that try to rationalize the  facts and formulize the world. It seems that complete epoch of these four illusions  be both impossible and fruitless. All major theoretical challenges to understand  the being, or criticizing such an understanding, possess a subsidary scaphold  of these merged complexes. All we can do is to remind the illusiveness of these  axioms and open up the theoretical semantic phase space by changing these presumptions  locally. This is what Foucault calls “reversion” which can also be called criticism.

C) Our model is essentially hedonistic. It is neither Foucault’s, nor Luhmann’s, intention to search and find such an ultimate attractor for a great deal of  the behaviors. But in the theory of the manesh-ha we believe that there is an  experimentally discriminable attractor, -not unique or teleological, but central  and influential- that is the reward system and its complements.

D) Foucault, because of his anti-dominational approach towards the discourses  and meta-theories, can not propose liberative strategic programs. This defect  is a consequence of his radical refusal of the metanarratives. Ourmodel, in  contrast, validates the consistency and pervasiveness as a powerful competetive  tool in the cultural level. So, any influential liberative criticism must itself  be interpreted to these normative Lingua Franca of the Maneshes world. We are  not doomed to repeat the errors lurked beneath the normative discourse, but we  have to penetrate into its crust if we are aiming a meaningful change occured  by our criticisms. In other words, we need to creat a new disciplinary regulation  in our discourse, if we want it be resistant against other normative competetors.

9. Our model have some common points with Foucaudian paradigm, on the other and:

A) Both approach accentuate the freedom of criticizing and negate the common sensicality of the deepest theoretical dogma and presumptions, even just for the sake of  curiosity. Moreover, both believe their own assumptions as local, uncertain  and somehow arbitrary.

B) Both approaches applaud the multidisciplinary approaches toward the sociological problems. We may even say that they both use a systemic, experimentally enriched  method of reformulating our familiar world representations. Both of the methods  stress on the multidimensional nature of the social subjects of inquiry.

C) Both strategies concentrate on the biological facts and hard evidences about  the social formations. Foucault’s politics of the body, and our centrality of  pleasure/fitness are among our rich conceptual borrowings from biology. Geneaologically,  we may say that this interest to biological documentation have been started  by the Nietschze himself.

D) The core intention of Theory of Manesh-ha and Foucaudian paradigms liberative. There is a common passion for resisting domination -in Foucault-and enlarging  the semantic phase space -in Maneshes theory- which from a Kantian point of  view, originate from a meta-epistemic ethical motivation for freedom.

10. The aim of the intellectuals challenges is asking bravely, rather than answering conservatively. The goal of this text has been clarifying a vital and important  question. If there be any expansion in the semantic phase space of the reader,  this goal is attained.


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Herodotus: A Godfather for History

Posted by M. Jafroodi On 28 - December - 2010

Iranshahr- “A Godfather for History” or call for rewriting Achaemenid history presents a critical assessment of inaccuracies of Achaemenid history as found in Herodotus and Greek sources and reveals their partial views when writing Achaemenid history down.

The book consists of a foreword and eight sections including different dealings which reflect the writer’s concerns: ‘Historiography in ancient Greece’, ‘Who is Herodotus?’, ‘Herodotus measured by his siblings’, ‘Wonders and characteristics of Herodotus history’, ‘Herodotus’ view of Iranians’, ‘Archaeology’s response to Herodotus (the instance of Cambyses and Cow of Apys)’, and ‘Legend of Median Wars (Marathon and Salamis in western historiography and today versions of history made by Byzantine writers)’.

Farshid Ebrahimi, author of ‘Macedonian Alexander according to Pahlavi Texts” told IBNA: “At the threshold of 21st century of birth of Christ which pan-Hellenists still seek roots of culture and western civilization in it, tracing these roots back is a must in modern Iran studies.”

He added, “Because Hellenic Greece stands as a symbol of western identity against the panorama of ancient Iran’s cultural world (as well as Middle East) so that it can be the sole source of historiography for the political goals of the west in long time and the best means of backgrounding cultural and sociopolitical dominance over East.”

“This treatise is a call for revisioning and rewriting Achaemenid history in order to purify it from polluting predilections and enmity, rancor and inadequacy; it is a reminder of the necessity for modification of history which is now done after centuries by its true heirs.”

Abrishamifard Publication has previously published ‘Macedonian Alexander according to Pahlavi Texts” from the same writer; now “A Godfather for History” is released to the market by this publisher in 160 pages and price of 2500 Tomans.

Source: IBNA.ir

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