Emotional Escapes: Affective Sites and Spaces of Cultural Dissent in Iran

Pamela Karimi
Thu May 9th 2019, 6:30 - 8:00pm
Event Sponsor
Hamid and Christina Moghadam Program in Iranian Studies and the Art, Social Space, and Public Discourse initiative
Geology Corner, Building 320, Room 105, 450 Serra Mall
Emotional Escapes: Affective Sites and Spaces of Cultural Dissent in Iran

From the Russian samizdat to Wikileaks, thinkers have long sought channels to disseminate ideas in the back alleyways of the marketplace of ideas, outside of the approved territories defined by the government or religious authorities. Scholars and journalists have a term for places in Iran where unofficial activities take place: zirzamini (lit. the underground). Despite its significance, there is only a small body of literature concerning the history of the Iranian “underground” as an alternative physical entity.


Examining selected covert designs and underground spaces from several decades, Karimi illuminates the corporeal and visceral forces that have served to drive creative agents in Iran toward increasingly original forms of resistance that are played out across counter-institutions, escapist sites, underground art scenes, and other defiant spaces. Intertwining the accounts of the production and consumption of architecture and artistic sites with theories of affect, the talk shows how creative dissent in Iran takes place and evolves across human bodies and non-human agents.

Pamela Karimi is an Associate Professor of History of Art and Architecture at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. She is an architect and an architectural historian who earned her Ph.D. from the History, Theory & Criticism of Art and Architecture Program at MIT in 2009. Her primary field of specialization is art, architecture, and visual culture of the modern Middle East. Her second area of research is design and sustainability in North America. Before joining the Art History faculty at UMass Dartmouth, Dr. Karimi taught at Brandeis University, NYU, Wellesley College, and Lawrenceville School.

She is the author of Domesticity and Consumer Culture in Iran: Interior Revolutions of the Modern Era (Routledge, 2013) and co-editor of Images of the Child and Childhood in Modern Muslim Contexts (Duke, 2012), Reinventing the American Post-Industrial City (Sage, 2015) & The Destruction of Cultural Heritage in the Middle East: From Napoleon to ISIS (Aggregate Architectural Collaborative, 2016). Her essays and reviews about the modern and contemporary art of the Middle East have appeared in numerous journals. She has curated major projects in the US and abroad, and is the recipient of several awards and fellowships.

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