We all enjoyed an intellectual feast on Friday March 10th, at the UNC Persian Studies Program symposium “Bazm O Razm In The Persianate World: Continuities And Convergences” (co-sponsored by the Center for Middle East and Islamic Studies). Throughout the day, 2 dozen participants and guests discussed the nuances around discourses of feasting and fighting in the Persianate world, focusing on the cultures of Pre-Islamic and Pre-Modern Persia. Enjoying tea, coffee, and Persian sweets in between.
Dr. Claudia Yaghoobi kicked off the day, welcoming all with opening remarks about the history of Persian studies at the University of North Caroline, the department’s faculty, minors, enrollment and courses.
Caroline Williams, a Graduate Student at UNC-Chapel Hill introduced the first speaker – Dr. Parvaneh Pourshariati (CUNY) on “The wife and property-sharing, wine-imbibing, Mazdakites, and later Khurramdīns: Accusations & Realities, Bazm o Razm misunderstood?” Dr. Jennifer Gates-Foster, Professor of Classics at UNC-Chapel Hill, followed up with questions and discussion about the practice.
Next up was Dr. Layah Bigdeli, a PhD Candidate in Art History at UC Irvine, who presented her research on “Dining in Eranshahr: politics of dining in late antique Iran.” Discussant Ehsan Sheikhalharam, PhD Candidate in Religious Studies at UNC-Chapel Hill highlighted themes in Dr. Bigdeli’s work around cultural capital, how objects carry themselves as they travel across geographies and political systems, and the consumption of artifacts.
Then came Keynote Speaker Dr. Touraj Daryaee, Professor of History at UC Irvine, thanks to the Shaida Jarrahi Horner and Vance L. Horner, II Persian Studies Speaker Series Endowment. Dr. Daryaee took us deeper into the Symposium theme of Bazm (feasting) with his presentation of “Nān Xwardan Bazm: On the Etiquette of Feasting in Iranshahr”. Dr. Bruce Lawrence, Professor of Religious Studies at Duke University, made connections between the framing of dining etiquette in the larger concept of the Cosmopolitanism Islamicate.
After lunch, Dr. Kaveh Hemmat, from Benedictine University, took us from Bazm into Razm (fight) in his talk on “Epic Brutality and Long-Distance Romance: Amity and Violence in Persianate Depictions of East Asia and the Iberian Peninsula”. Discussant Dr. Waleed Ziad, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at UNC-Chapel Hill, reflected the complex and conflicting narratives of war.
Finally, Dr. Domenico Ingenito, Associate Professor of Persian Studies at UCLA, expanded on storytelling, romance, sexuality, and power conflict, presenting “The Hunt as Erotic and Martial Training in Early New Persian Poetry.” Discussant Dr. Eren Tasar, Associate Professor of History at UNC-Chapel Hill, reflected on the “deliciousness” of Dr. Ingenito’s line by line analysis of poetry, and raised questions about the power of the poet and the slave to influence political leaders beyond a quest for material wealth.
For a recording of the presentations and discussions, you can go to the Persian Studies Program Facebook page (view past live recordings) at https://www.facebook.com/PersianUNC
The symposium was sponsored by UNC Libraries, Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, the Center for the Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, The Shaida Jarrahi Horner and Vance L. Horner, II Persian Studies Speaker Series Endowment Keynote Speaker, Jarrahi Library, UNC Persian Studies program, UNC Institute for the Arts and Humanities, ICSNC