Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationToronto, U. of
Grant numberGr. 9581
Approve DateApril 14, 2018
Project TitleAlihosseini, Elmirasadat, U. of Toronto, Toronto, Canada - To aid research on 'Neighborhood: Afghan Refugees's Belonging in Iran,' supervised by Dr. Amira Mittermaier
ELMIRASADAT ALIHOSSEINI, then a graduate student at University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada, was awarded funding in April 2013 to aid research on ‘Neighborhood: Afghan Refugees’s Belonging in Iran,’ supervised by Dr. Amira Mittermaier. Through prolonged fieldwork and following several families over more than five years, conducting interviews and reviewing literary writings (poems and short stories) and other forms of work of art (performances, photo exhibitions, paintings, etc.), this dissertation attends to the everyday life of Hazara youth, many of whom feel a sense of deep uncertainty and stuckedness in Iran. By locating this research at the scale of neighborhood, it challenges the given image of the neighborhood as a fixed territory with given perimeters and multiple claims for sovereignty, and instead offers a deterritorialized image, as that which goes beyond its physical parameters and connects objects, experiences, threads of social relations across Afghanistan, Iran, Europe, Tukey and elsewhere. In this dissertation, the focus on the astan, threshold, is not just because the city of Mashhad in which the fieldwork has been conducted is historically shaped around and marked in various ways around Astan Quds Razavi (the holy threshold of Imam Reza’s shrine) this is an administrative organization managing the shrine and its numerous institutions but also the medium in relations between the Iranian state and Shi’a Hazaras. Influenced by the history of this city as a site of refuge for many across the region and afar, the research expands the concept of threshold beyond its spatial and religious meaning into various practices of everyday life (changing names, falling in love, indulging in poetry and art). Threshold here is understood in the logic of sanctuary seeking, as a time-space or experience of rest, a temporary state that defers the conditions of total violence and provides an opportunity to negotiate with those in power.