I left Iran to pursue an academic career where I could have better access to knowledge and collaborate with international scholars. Instead, I feel increasingly trapped in Germany. My political identity defines my role as a scholar, even in the seemingly democratic, liberated environment of academia.
Projects which depict an oppressed, exotic other – for instance, through examinations of topics such as physical violence in Islamic rituals or the persecution of women in the middle east – tend to be well-received by lecturers and students. But these projects play into deeply problematic expectations of colonial narrative. My friends have joked that I should take my camera to a village and film a strange ritual, and my career would be solid as a rock.
It’s not just academia where the colonial gaze drives how we work.
Germany? Iran? Colonial?
Actually, Iran, colonial? Well, maybe Arabs, Turks, Mongols, but that’s not usually what we mean, is it?