This project aims to examine pre-Islamic heritage as a potential contributor to a more stable Middle East by studying its role in an emergent Iranian zone of cultural influence in the Middle East. Understanding contributing factors to stability in the Middle East is crucial to managing Australia’s cultural, economic, and security concerns. The project will develop a situated, multi-scalar method of analysis to establish the function of pre-Islamic heritage using the Parsa-Pasargadae region as an illustrative example. The project expects to deliver insights into the culture and collective identity formation within Muslim societies, and provide a platform for comparative research in the Middle East.
In light of political developments in Iran and in response to ensuing security concerns, the scope and focus of the project had to be adjusted after a few months from the start of the project. As a result, the project shifted focus to South Caucasus and Central Asia.
During the first few months, however, research on aspects of heritage in Iran continued as reflected in project outcomes.
Having produced some analysis in Iran, the project is currently examining the formation of national(ist) representations in heritage in Azerbaijan.
This is primarily done through the analysis of representational sites such as (chiefly) the Independence Museum of Azerbaijan.
Books | Edited Volumes
Heritage in West Asia: Stability or Conflict
Public film screening: Taq Kasra: Wonder of Architecture. Screened in National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Wednesday, 30 January 2019. 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm AEDT
Broad theoretical outcomes and provocations, coming soon.
Through a generous funding received from the Soudavar Memorial Foundation (£ 4100.00) and co-sponsorship of the Alfred Deakin Institute, this research examines the use of historical collections in the construction and dissemination of an official and ideologically-sanctioned rendition of national identity in Azerbaijani museums. The proposed project is a pilot study, which contributes to a larger project about the official representations of Iranian culture and heritage within Central Asia and Caucasus (broadly, West Asia). The primary focus of the project is on the Independence Museum of Azerbaijan in Baku.
This project complements DECRA 2017 by taking a specific focus on the question of nationalism and identity making through heritage (political or otherwise) the past in West Asia. The project serves as a pilot study for larger project focusing on the region.
One round of field trip was undertaken in 2019, with another round anticipated for 2020, which under the circumstances of the COVID 19 pandemic, this round of fieldwork and data collection is temporarily suspended.
Having made a preliminary visual and documentary archive for the project, the task of historical and museological analysis is proceeding with a critical heritage studies lens.
The anticipated output is a scholarly publication focussing on the Independence Museum of Azerbaijan.
Other outputs thus far include: