Nationalism on Stage - Theatre in Iran

EPISODE 3 | The National Libraries in Tehran - Centres of Knowledge

Although the National Library in Tehran is centrally located it is not readily accessible. Entering it involves undergoing several bureaucratic formalities. One condition is having good reason for your research work – as is the case with Marburg-based Iranologist and doctoral student Anna Heller. Once these official hurdles have been overcome, users of the National Library gain access to a highly modern and very helpful institution. Anna Heller provides an insight into her work at one of the most important centres of knowledge in Iran.

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The Project
To date, little attention has been paid to modern art forms as an expression of secular and anti-Islamic movements; at most the topic was skimmed over in cultural and socio-historical studies on the Middle Eastern region. Both modernist literary figures whose thinking was influenced by Western concepts of nationalism and the Pahlavi state saw their task as shaping a modern national conscious. The preferred medium for advocating their secular concepts of morality and modernity was the theatre. This project seeks to examine nationalism in Iran at a time when no other mass media existed apart from the press, and theatre played an important role as a vehicle for communicating nationalist ideas. The aim is to reach socio-historical conclusions about the way the Iranian state’s modernization policy was disseminated and its social reception by the multimedia phenomenon of the theatre. A key issue in analysing the ideological effectiveness of the theatre is the extent to which this secular art form projected the image of an anti-Islamic movement.

Project leadership:

Prof Dr Christoph Werner



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