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Sociology, economics & culture, focus of upcoming Iranian conference


TORONTO - June 17, 2008 - The International Society for Iranian Studies (ISIS) will hold its Seventh Biennial Conference on Iranian Studies at the Park Hyatt Hotel, Thursday, July 31 through Sunday, August 3, 2008.


"This is the largest international gathering of scholars who study, teach, and write on Iran," says Mohamad Tavakoli-Targhi, conference program Chair and professor at the Department of Historical Studies at the University of Toronto.



Founded in 1967, ISIS is an independent, non-partisan, non-political, multi-disciplinary international community of more than 500 scholars, students, academic and non-academic researchers, and aficionados of Iranian studies.


"ISIS is committed to promoting the free exchange of ideas, freedom of expression in all forms and all media, and unrestricted pursuit of research, instruction, publication, and presentation without fear of intimidation and persecution," explains Tavakoli-Targhi.


ISIS promotes research and discourse in all disciplines, ranging from history to anthropology, sociology, political science, literature, religion, film studies, art and art history, architecture, music, urban planning, and economics.


About 250 scholars from all around the globe have been invited to present their current research on Iran. In 2006, the Sixth Biennial Conference on Iranian Studies, held in London, UK, drew more than 800 paid registrants;  about 1,000 paid registrants are anticipated at the Toronto conference.


To learn more, or register for the conference, click on: 


The conference will include:


  • PLENARY SESSIONS AND SEMINARS on topics from the role of women in Iran today to the preservation of culture across the Persian Empire.

  • A FILM FESTIVAL, where 25 feature and documentary films by Iranian directors, as well as popular TV shows, will be screened. Under the theme of "Redefining the Self," individual films deal with topics such as contestation of sexual roles, to the reimagining of violence and individual (often women's) resistance to it.

"While homosexuality is a crime punishable by death in Iran, it is not illegal to undergo a sex change. One documentary deals with a male-to-female transsexual who has to come to terms with her new female identity in a cultural and social context as well as a political and religious context as she now has to wear the hijab in accordance with Iranian law," says Tavakoli-Targhi.  

"Another film deals with cosmetic surgery:  Iran leads the world in rhinoplasty-nose jobs-with an estimated 60,000 to 70,000 surgeries a year,"
says Tavakoli-Targhi.  



  • THE SHAHNAMAH MILLENNIUM CONCERT-a 1-night only concert to be held at Toronto's Roy Thomson Hall on Saturday, August 2, 2008 will be the highlight of the Seventh Biennial Conference on Iranian Studies.


"This concert will be a fusion of tradition and innovation done on a grand scale that has never been produced in this format, anywhere in the world before," explains Ariana Barkeshli, the artistic director of the Shahnamah Millennium Concert.


The multimedia concert will include Persian "scene-narrating," performed by the legendary Tehran-based Morshed Torabi, and the performance of the Persian Trilogy, by members of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, while Persian miniature paintings from famous Persian manuscripts are projected on giant screens.


The Persian Trilogy, a "tone poem," was composed by leading Iranian composer Behzad Ranjbaran (b. 1955, Tehran) between 1991 and 2000. Ranjbaran, based in New York, is on the faculty of the Juilliard School of Music. Maestro JoAnn Falletta, the music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic and Virginia Symphony, will conduct all three pieces of Ranjbaran's Persian Trilogy.


The Persian Trilogy sets to music Iran's most famous work of literature, The Shahnamah [The Book of Kings] completed by Persian poet Ferdowsi in 1,010 AD, and now celebrating its 1,000th anniversary.


By way of comparison, The Shahnamah is seven times as long as The Iliad, Homer's epic Greek poem, and 12 times as long as Germany's national epic, The Nibelungenlied, set to music by composer Richard Wagner as four operas, known as the famous Ring Cycle.


"The Shahnamah-an epic poem-is Iran's masterwork of cosmopolitanism. It's about the creation of the world, as believed by the Persians and the first man, who also became the first King of Persia. It's about the arts of civilization:  fire, cooking, metallurgy, and Law," explains Tavakoli-Targhi.


"More importantly, The Shahnamah is about the transient nature of life in this world and Ferdowsi stresses avoiding cruelty, lying, avarice, and other traditional evils. Instead, one should strive for justice, honor, truth, order, and other traditional virtues," adds Tavakoli-Targhi.


Tickets for the Shahnamah Millennium Concert range from $35 to $70 and are available at Enter the phrase "Persian Trilogy" into the site's search engine.



The Seventh Biennial Conference on Iranian Studies

Park Hyatt Hotel, Toronto, CanadaJuly 31st - August 3rd, 2008


The International Society for Iranian Studies

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