Incorporating both Iranian and non-Iranian visualisations, the goal of this conference is to explore anthropologically the wide range of filmic representations of Iran. This is not exclude, of course, the particular genre of ethnographic documentary, but rather the aim is to incorporate it as an object of analysis within a wider understanding of Visual Anthropology.

The conference will gather together anthropologists, ethnographers, film-makers, photographers and artists from Iran and elsewhere, who are interested in the visual representation of Iran. It aims to bring these experts into dialogue to interpret and theorise visual representations of Iran.

Key speakers

  • Prof Peter I. Crawford (Visual Cultural Studies, University of Tromsoe, Norway)
  • Dr Rolf Husman (Chairman of Commission on Visual Anthropology, The Institute for Knowledge and Media, Goettingen, Germany)
  • Prof Hamid Naficy (Professor of Communication, Department of Radio, TV, Film, Northwestern University).

Call for papers

The production of film and visual arts in Iran has enjoyed a considerable development during the past two decades, not solely by governmental organisations but also by independent film makers and artists (both Iranian and non-Iranian). This has occurred despite the absence of any significant debate in the country regarding theory in relation to visual anthropology and visual arts (photography, painting, multimedia…) or to moving images as a system of meanings. At present insufficient communication between anthropological institutes, anthropologists, independent documentary film-makers, artists and art critic's can be considered to lie at the root of this lack of intellectual engagement over the status of the visual image of Iran. It is evident that study and analysis of contemporary Iran and Iranian society through visual images and representations from an anthropological perspective would be of great value, in that it may stimulate a new scope of vision and insights into Iran and Iranians today. Finally, our grasp of the subject and the style of Iranian ethnographical, documentary films and visual arts can be deepened by an understanding of the broader cultural politics of the government of Iran.

We invite contributions on thematic and stylistic development in anthropological and documentary films, multimedia, photographs, visual arts and on the way these might all reflect and feed upon images contemporary Iran. A subset of related themes involves the connections to international anthropological film making styles or the ethnographic and documentary film traditions, including considerations of emerging national styles within Iran. We invite scholarly, interdisciplinary and carefully documented studies relating to any of the themes spelt out below:

  • The political and historical contexts of visual representations of Iran
  • Nationalism, national identities and counter narratives of belonging
  • Historical development of anthropological and ethnographical filmmaking and visual arts in Iran, its background and origins
  • The development of film and visual arts in post revolution Iran and its place in Iranian culture
  • Ethnographical and documentary filmmaking and visual arts in post-revolutionary Iran
  • Geographical dislocations and diasporic identities
  • Visual representations of Iran in the other countries
  • War and reconciliation
  • Martyrdom and memories of conflict
  • Gender issues and the representation of women
  • Youth and the post-revolutionary generation
  • Orientalism and Islamophobia
  • Domestic audiences of films and visual arts and their reactions to them
  • Training and careers of Iranian anthropologists, film directors and artists
  • Amateur, popular, and video films

Papers and presentations for the conference may include the use of film, video, artwork, and photography.

Instructions for submission of paper abstracts

  • Submit an English language abstract of about 200 words (for a 20 minute presentation) using our downloadable form, outlining your proposed topic, your approach, and the forms/media in which you intend to present your work.
  • Papers must be delivered in English.
  • Click here to download the paper submission form.

Deadline for submission of papers

Abstracts for papers must be submitted no later than 31 January 2008.

Publication of proceedings

It is the intention of the organisers that the proceedings of the symposium will later be published in a book and/ or other forms. Participants must therefore commit themselves not to publish the papers presented at this conference elsewhere.

Organised by

The Department of Social Anthropology, University of St. Andrews


  • Prof Roy Dilley (Head of Department of Social Anthropology, University of St. Andrews)
  • Dr Pedram Khosronejad (Department of Social Anthropology and Research Fellow in The Institute for Iranian Studies, University of St. Andrews)

Enquiries and additional information and details

Dr Pedram Khosronejad
Department of Social Anthropology & Institute for Iranian Studies
University of St. Andrews
St. Andrews, Fife, Scotland KY16 9AL
Tel: +44 (1334) 461968
Fax: +44 (1334) 462985