Transnational Culture in the Iranian Armenian Diaspora

Claudia Yaghoobi

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Examines the ways diasporic Iranian Armenian authors and artists negotiate their identities in Iran and in the US

  • Highlights a defining characteristic of Iranian Armenian diaspora which concerns Armenians’ ability to negotiate their identity within a codified legal hierarchy – in Iran within a codified legal ethno-religious hierarchy and in the US via a legally codified racial hierarchy
  • Theorizes a concept specific to Iranian Armenian diaspora named verants’ughi (վերանցուղի) – a transformational passageway
  • Studies a variety of literary works written in Persian, Armenian and English, as well as other cultural pieces in music, art and film
  • As an Iranian Armenian living in the US, the author includes first-hand life experiences as a minoritized member of Iranian Armenian population
  • Problematizes our understanding of concepts such as multiculturalism and transnationalism in Iran and in the U.S., comparatively.
  • Contributes to the broader topic of Iranian nationalism and the historical marginalization of Iranian minoritized populations, resulting in their global migration, but also examines multiculturalism and transnationalism within Iran.

Transnational Culture studies the ways that diasporic Iranian Armenian authors and artists negotiate their identities as minoritized population within a liminal space that includes religious, ethnic, national, racial, cultural, gender, and sexual factors. Yaghoobi argues that this liminal state of fluidity helps them to develop a resilience towards ambiguity and handling ambivalence in dealing with various cultures as well as resisting dualistic thinking. This in turn allows them to move beyond national boundaries to transnationalism, yet simultaneously display the collective Armenian identity characterized by flexibility, adaptability, and continuity as a result of both multiple uprooting and a Genocide that continues to this day. They serve as a bridge between the homeland and the host nation, occupying what the author theorizes as verants’ughi – the transformational passageway, which requires them to not only risk being in a transitory space and give up the safe space of home and the power that comes with it, but also through doing so, they create transformative works of literature and art.

List of Figures
Note on Transliteration and Translation

Prologue: A Turning Point: The Iran-Iraq War
Introduction: From Nationalism in Exile to Transnationalism in Diaspora
1 Diaspora, Nostos and Longing
2 Maintaining Heritage and Assimilation
3 Language as an Ethno-National Identity Marker
4 History, Memory and Collective Consciousness
5 Transnational Diasporic Identity
Conclusion: Negotiating Identity via Creativity
Epilogue: Where is Home?


This book blends scholarly and personal history with literature, film and art, thereby illustrating how questions of identity are navigated by Iranian Armenians, both in Iran and in exile. It is a fresh and nuanced study that approaches the subjects of minorities, race and migration through a non-western lens.

James Barry, Deakin University

Transnational Culture in the Iranian Armenian Diaspora breaks new ground in the study of minorities in general and specifically in the context of diaspora communities. Claudia Yaghoobi brilliantly analyses the construction of a triangular identity comprised of Iran, Armenia and the United States as the geographical identifiers.

Lior Sternfeld, Pennsylvania State University

This book offers a fascinating focus on an entirely understudied community that appears predominantly silenced within socio-political discourses related to diasporic Armenian communities. Of particular interest are Yaghoobi’s examinations of artistic and creative contributions by Iranian Armenians and the ways in which their artistic expressions were shaped by the Islamic Revolution in Iran and the Iran-Iraq war.

Vera Eccarius-KellyVera Eccarius-Kelly, Siena College
Claudia Yaghoobi is a Roshan Institute Associate Professor and the director of the Center for the Middle East and Islamic Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She is the author of Temporary Marriage in Iran: Gender and Body Politics in Modern Persian Literature and Film (Cambridge UP 2020) and Subjectivity in ‘Attar, Persian Sufism, and European Mysticism (Purdue UP 2017). She is the editor of The #MeToo Movement in Iran: Reporting Sexual Violence and Harassment forthcoming from Bloomsbury/IB Tauris in 2023. She is co-editor with Janet Afary of the Sex, Marriage and Culture in the Middle East book series.

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