The research that has developed over the years is oriented by three broad and intersecting areas. The inevitable result has been a trans-/inter-disciplinary approach. The areas of enquiry reflect past disciplinary training as well as academic appointments and big and small grants acquired since 2003. As such, the projects defined within these broad areas represent a continuum, one that began inside Iran and has moved outward from there while maintaining a focus on the region which may be understood broadly as West Asia.
This line of enquiry seeks leads to the intersection of history, territory and international relations. In broad terms, it falls under the auspices of heritage diplomacy by talking questions about the use of the past in international relations and conversely, by seeking to articulate the impact of international relations and diplomacy in reframing pasts and thus conjuring forms of heritage. Issues of territorial dispute and cultural-historical claims, civilizational fault-lines and advancement of soft power fall within the scope of this enquiry.
The outcomes thus far include:
The House of Constitution, Tabriz, Iran
This line of research, which is conceived and pursued in close collaboration with Professor David Harvey of Aarhus university, seeks to understand and problematise the relationship between borders heritages. It engages with questions such as:
Probing such questions is leading to a forthcoming collection (contracted by Berghahn) and a short monograph.
Also see BOOKS and AUDIOVISUAL sections for further information.
This line of research conceptualises the role played by the built environment, and specifically design, in mediating the relationship between the past and the present, i.e. the making of heritage, in the developmental context of Iran. The core argument is that in societies such as Iran, development and its associated projects cause a shift in historical consciousness, which in turn causes different and novel cultural expressions, leading to the formation of heritage.
This line of enquiry has resulted in a number of publications including:
Kerman University, Kerman, Iran
Architectect: Usef Shariatzadeh
Related to the above lines of enquiry, this area of research is concerned with the ideological import of the past in the formation of the discourse of Islamic Architecture.
It has had multiple outputs in English and Persian, the latest being a Persian article in the journal Tabl (No. 7, January 2022) entitled: Global exchanges, the Cold War and probing the meaning of a contemporary Islamic Architecture
Tehran Sacred Defence Museum (Iraq-Iran War Museum)
This project, which began as a collaborative endeavour between Ali Mozaffari and Tod Jones, was an attempt to understand the relationship between social movement and cultural heritage. It tresponded to a methodological and theoretical gap in critical heritage research, namely the systematic approach to and analysis of collective action in heritage production and contestation. Our approach was informed by theories advanced by James Jasper.
Project outputs included a number of journal articles and an edited volume.
Sponsoring bodies include:
Heritage Protests at the Iranian Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO) HQ
This line of enquiry follows the formation and contestation of heritage in modern Iran. The research, which falls within the domain of critical heritage studies, has drawn on theories and methodologies in anthropology, museum studies, architecture, urban studies and history. The outputs have pioneered the interpretative study of the National Museum of Iran (in Forming National Identity in Iran), the relationship between heritage and place through with a particular focus on Pasargadae World Heritage site (in World Heritage in Iran), examination of site museum architecture in World Heritage site of Pasargadae (also in World Heritage in Iran), activism in heritage and heritage NGOs (in multiple articles and book chapters), formation of and idea of Iran as the frame for tourism in contemporary Iran (book chapter), and a few other contributions available here.
The relationship between image, especially moving image, and the uses of the past in the present (thus heritage) is significant and yet there is a shortage of a systematic approach to the topic. This area of investigation seeks to fill this gap.
The latest output of this research is :
A pre-print of the article is available from https://bit.ly/3FKo0Rr
Link to full issue online: https://www.tandfonline.com/toc/yhso20/14/2-3