Can a Person Engage in Good Scholarship on the Iranian Diaspora from Inside Iran?

Since joining the Facebook for academics,, I’ve received all sorts of e-mails for conferences, call for papers, workshops, books, etc. It has kept me in touch with other researchers in my field and allowed me to know what others are currently up to with their own research and fieldwork projects. Lately, I have been getting a steady stream of academics from Iran who want to “befriend” me on Although i want to engage with fellow academics in Iran, at the same time I want to know that I am not dealing with a political stooge for the regime. Three days ago, I received a message from a PhD candidate in Literature at the University of Tehran inquiring on the following:

“I have to choose a topic for my PhD thesis and due to them fact that diaspora literature is widely in demand these days I have made my mind to work on literary works of Anglo-Iranian authors and poets in the light of the theories of “Hybrid Identity” and “Third Space” set forth by Homi Bhabha.

I have decided to work on a diasporic analysis of Mimi Khalvati`s poems and Crowther`s Saffron Kitchen. but my supervisor believes that I need to broaden my proposal to cover a wider range of texts. That is why I am badly in need of your help. I made every attempt to find another Anglo-Iranian writer whose works can be studied form a diasporic perspective. However, my efforts were all in vain and I will be tremendously grateful if you do me a favor and introduce me some other Anglo-Iranina authors (if any) for my PhD thesis. Thank you so much for your attention and time.”

After reading this message, I had to agree with this person’s supervisor- the choice of material was limited. Also, comparing/contrasting Khalvati’s poems to Crowther’s fiction, Saffron Kitchen does not make sense. Either look at fictions or poems exclusively, but not both. Of course, I have to admit, this is not an original research proposal. Many of our own in the diaspora have done extensive ethnographic research on diasporic literature, gender and sexuality in the Iranian diaspora, Iranian diasporic art and media & communications. I suspect this person does not have access to such information and therefore is unaware of the extensive scholarship that has been produced. However, another question I had floating in my mind, one more important was, how could anyone in Iran study/write without living among its diasporic brethren? How can this person write on the above topic in a thoughtful manner without turning it into something political and disparaging of the Iranian diaspora? 

I want to be able to help this person and give thoughtful advice but am rather conflicted in how I should reply. If you where in my shoes, what would you do? Thoughts and suggestions from all, whatever your professional background would be appreciated.  

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