Roxanne Varzi

Roxanne Varzi is the author of Warring Souls: Media, Martyrdom and Youth in Post-Revolution Iran. She teaches anthropology and film and media studies at the University of California, Irvine.

In school we were asked to write a short story: fiction, not autobiography. I began mine with the sentence: ‘Bombs dropped, the sky was ablaze, there was no night.’ The teacher, who had been making her rounds, looking down at our papers as she went, saw mine and sniffed: ‘Fiction does not have to be “real”, but it does have to be truthful. A writer writes what...

Diary: At the Martyrs’ Museum

Roxanne Varzi, 8 March 2007

No one was guarding the gates to the grounds of the Imamzadeh Ali Akbar Cheezari in Tehran, where the son of the Imam Zayn al-Abedin is interred, the first time I visited, in 2000. The mausoleum now stands in a cemetery where hundreds of martyrs of the war with Iraq are buried.

The war institutionalised martyrdom. For the Iranians who volunteered to fight, the Iran-Iraq war, like the battle...

From The Blog
21 February 2017

This year my son will turn eight, the age I was at the time of the Iranian Revolution, when my American mother brought me to the US, leaving my Iranian father in Tehran. When Donald Trump was elected president, my son asked if we would have to move to Tehran. My Iranian husband and I did what my parents did during the Revolution: we lied, saying that he had nothing to worry about.

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