Thu 19 November 2015 | WHAT's NEW?! | Condolences or Congratulations: how to interpret the Martyrs of the Iran-Iraq War | Asghar Seyed-Gohrab
On Thursday 19 November, Asghar Seyed-Gohrab delivered a lecture on different approaches of the martyrs of the Iran-Iraq War in the lecture series "What's NEW?! Current Research on Islam and the Middle East."
One of the awful aspects triggered by the culture of martyrdom after the Islamic Revolution (1979) was the vogue of being killed so that the term martyrdom could be applied to individuals. The years prior to the Islamic Revolution and especially during the Iran-Iraq war (1980-88), martyrdom was idealised and even glamorized. The newly established Islamic government accorded an elevated position to the martyr, the family, friends and even acquaintance. Such a death brought not merely public respect, but it also secured the family economically, as the family would receive money, the brothers or sisters could secure, for instance, a place at the university, something which is very hard to achieve even for talented students, as there is only limited places to enrol to the university. In addition to these advantages, the alleys and streets were immediately named after the martyrs. This aspect of idealizing the cult of martyrdom is still visible in the majority of streets-names, changing public sphere into a museum of martyrdom. This lecture was devoted to the way the fallen soldiers in the Iran-Iraq war were viewed to justify death and violence.
Ali-Asghar Seyed-Gohrab is Associate Professor at Leiden University. His publications include Soefism: Een levende traditie, (Amsterdam: Prometheus / Bert Bakker, 2015); Literature of the Early Twentieth Century: From the Constitutional Period to Reza Shah (ed., Volume XI of A History of Persian Literature, London / New York: I.B. Tauris 2015), Layli and Majnun: Love, Madness and Mystic Longing in Nizami’s Epic Romance, (Leiden / Boston: Brill, 2003), Mirror of Dew: The Poetry of Ālam-Tāj Zhāle Qā'em-Maqāmi, (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, Ilex Fundation Series 14, 2015), Courtly Riddles: Enigmatic Embellishments in Early Persian Poetry, (Leiden: LUP, 2008, 2010); The Treasury of Tabriz: the Great Il-Khanid Compendium, (West Lafayette, Indiana, Purdue University Press, ed. together with S. McGlinn, 2007); (2007) Seyed-Gohrab, A.A. & Gog and Magog: The Clans of Chaos in World Literature, (West Lafayette, Indiana, Purdue University Press, together with F. Doufikar-Aerts & S. McGlinn, 2007); One Word – Yak kaleme: A 19th-Century Persian Treatise Introducing Western Codified Law (Leiden: LUP, 2008, 2010, together with S. McGlinn); Conflict and Development in Iranian Film, ed. together with K. Talattof, (Leiden: LUP, 2013). He has translated several volumes of modern Persian poetry into Dutch, including the poetry of Sohrâb Sepehri, Forugh Farrokhzâd, Mohammad-Rezâ Shafi’i-Kadkani, and (together with J.T.P. de Bruijn) Ahmad Shâmlu, Nâder Nâderpur, and Hushang Ebtehâj. He headed the project Of Poetry and Politics: Classical Poetic Concepts in the New Politics of Twentieth Century Iran, financed by a five-year research grant from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO). He is the founding general editor of the Iranian Studies Series at Leiden University Press and the Modern Persian Poetry Series.
WHAT's NEW?! is a lecture series organised by LUCIS and the department of Middle Eastern Studies. The lecture series focuses on current research on Islam and the Middle East.