New PhD Candidate: Shekoufeh Behbehani,(Un)screened Narratives: Non-Normative Gender and Sexuality in Contemporary Iran

Shekoufeh Behbehani | University of Amsterdam | (Un)screened Narratives: Non-Normative Gender and Sexuality in Contemporary Iran.

The legalization of sex reassignment surgery (SRS) in the 1980s in Iran has created an ambivalent space within Iranian gender politics. Although politico-religious discourses on SRS recognize transsexuality without necessitating medical transitioning, they have created a system that perpetuates heteronormativity and gender binarism. Since the early 2000s, an increasing number of Iranian films and theatrical performances have engaged issues of gender and sexuality, highlighting the broader deployment of violence that organizes Iranian gender politics. In doing so, they have joined activists in Iran in producing a counter-discourse to the reigning politico-religious paradigm. Through an interdisciplinary lens, my project studies a recent corpus of films and performances that reveal the ambivalences within Iranian gender politics in relation to the regime of violence in the country. In light of these representations, I explore the extent to which Iran’s particular mapping of gender and sexuality both facilitates and constrains non-normativity and queerness.

New PhD: Inte Gloerich, Blockchain imaginaries: A Critical Analysis

“Blockchain imaginaries: A Critical Analysis” – Inte Gloerich

This research aims to contribute to a better understanding of the societal and cultural consequences of blockchain technology. Blockchain technology is increasingly considered a new general-purpose technology that in the near future will play a role in many aspects of society. Blockchain technology is widely researched for its technical capacities but has yet to be fully recognized as a cultural force. This research aims to contribute to such recognition by means of a close analysis of sociotechnical imaginaries that exist around blockchain technology, as found in blockchain products as well as speculative design and blockchain art engaging with the technology.

A critical analysis of these sociotechnical imaginaries offers a useful tool to get a first understanding of what the socio-cultural implications of implementing this technology might be. How may this affect power relations? And who or what has agency? How may ideas of ownership and responsibility change when automation and anonymization become core features of governing systems? How may blockchain technology affect personal relations? Identifying these and other implications and thus contributing to understanding the possibilities and risks of large-scale implementation of blockchain technologies is the aim of this research.


Image by Lina Theodorou for Bad Shibe (Torque and Furtherfield, 2017), licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

New PhD: Sanaz Afshin, An Exploratory Study on Theatre Interventions with Refugees in the Netherlands

This research project revolves around the use of theatre as a tool for supporting the process of integration of refugees. Doing an in-depth examination of applied theatre projects made with/by/about refugees, the main goal of the research is to explore to what extent these projects have been effective in terms of facilitating refugees’ integration. By focusing on four case studies that took place in the Netherlands, this research will address issues around the evaluation strategies, aesthetics, challenges, and ethics of these projects in order to provide a better understanding of applied theatre interventions with refugees. An important attempt of the research will be to integrate the voices of refugees themselves within this debate by listening to their reflections about their participation in such projects.

New PhD: Florence Evans, Imaginative Visions of Traumatic Heritage in Argentina

The project is concerned with showing how memory is performed and productively re-visioned by artists, cultural producers and spectators belonging to a generation born after Argentina’s last civil-military dictatorship (1976-1983). Tracing across cultural forms of heritage and memory practices, I seek to prove a relationship between certain aesthetic practices in the 21st century and coeval engagements with codified ideations of trauma, witnessing and perpetration that are rooted in catastrophic events of the dictatorship era. The results of my study will contribute to understandings of the transferral/reception and imaginative refashioning of memory in the “postgeneration”.

Imagining the Rural in Contemporary China from a Perspective of Cultural Biographies of Everyday Objects.

Chinese society has been witnessing a ‘rural lifestyle’ in the urban, during the past decade, which incorporates rural elements in the production, consumption and possession of everyday objects. By tracing the biographies of those rural-embedded objects, from production, consumption to possession, this project aims to explore how ‘rural imaginations’ are constructed, examining the way the rural becomes mobilized to influence urban experience and the way urban mobilizations of the rural reflect back on the rural and perpetuate certain imaginations of the rural, while obfuscating aspects of the rural that do not fit into these imaginations.