February 25, 2000
Ghadrboland's points about identity in lieu of Ms.
Hosseini's commentary is a very valid counter-argument to the position
brought up originally about the very complex issue of identity.
A person being of a mixed-European/Iranian/Asian/Jewish/African or what
ever-hyphenated "American" has many positive and conversely negative
elements to it, as she pointed out. However the definitions of "citizenship"
versus "nationality" as opposed to "ethnicity" seems
to denote more clear definitions of belonging to one group simply based
on birth or parentage or ancestral origin. Whereas the issue of "culture"
being an outgrowth of "environmental history" including ancestry
is more or less fluid.
What was considered an "accultured" person of a particular
ethnic group, such as Persians, has continued to change definitions right
before our eyes in this past century. For instance, my experience as essentially
an American visiting family & friends in Iran was very unique in that
I was able to see many facets of that culture being treated as a part of
the country, essentially as an "ovrseas Iranian" which hardly
any non-Iranian foreigner would have been able to.
But Ms Ghadrboland is completely right when she says it is "choices"
people make to adapt to the different cultures available to us in the States...
for instance the prevailence of the "popculture" created by the
marketers and media in the United States has not only been considered a
destructive force to "Anglo American Culture" but even to the
Iranian clerics who view it as an assault on the very moral-fiber of Iranian
Shia social fabric -- and from my observation of Iranian class-groupings
which is more evident than here in the United States -- perhaps recent
changes in Iran has shown a transformation to that more "accessible"
materialism and hedonism of the market-culture to the greater population
because of their new found freedoms to identify.
My question to these ladies and others is what are the core values and
traditions, aside from "Persian pop music" or "paludeh"
or even the language (which can be learnt) determine an "Iranian"
in Iran versus outside -- and does this make an ancestral continuum with
the essence of homeland, as the Jewish people or Chinese-diaspora have
been able to do for centuries, and do these "values" include
greater self-awareness of consciencious awareness as a person within a
larger, more hostile bland American culture as it were, with the norms
and expectations of the "ladies and lads" in Iran?
Just a thought.