In Iranian Hospitality, Afghan Marginality, Elisabeth Yarbakhsh unpacks ideas around culture, identity, and the relationship between Iranian citizens and Afghan refugees living in Shiraz, Iran, and surrounding areas. Yarbakhsh highlights the ways in which shifting policies and practices toward refugees over the past forty years have run parallel to the transitive notions of what it means to be Iranian. Yarbakhsh exposes the complex interplay of identity and hospitality as it emerges out of variously competing and intersecting Islamic, historical, and literary narratives of Iranian identity, carefully illustrating how these factors circumscribe Afghan refugee life in the city of Shiraz.
Elisabeth Yarbakhsh, PhD, is independent scholar.
Chapter One: Afghanistan and Iran: A Shared History
Chapter Two: Placing Hospitality
Chapter Three: Hospitality, Iranian Style
Chapter Four: Modes of Hospitality
Chapter Five: In the Shrine Precinct
Chapter Six: Toward Persepolis
Chapter Seven: In Search of the Real Shiraz
Chapter Eight: Oases of Hospitality
Iranian Hospitality, Afghan Marginality sets a new standard in the political ethnography of the Middle East. It is written in a way that appeals both to scholars and practitioners interested in migrants' experiences and survival strategies. Based on extensive fieldwork in Iran, Elisabeth Yarbakhsh tells a vivid and compelling story of Afghan refugees in the country and their complex and often baffling interaction with the host society.
Remarkable for its lucidity, fieldwork, interdisciplinarity, and command of the literature, Elisabeth Yarbakash’s Iranian Hospitality, Afghan Marginality is a timely and authoritative study of the ethics and politics of hospitality in Iran. Yarbakash demonstrates succinctly how hospitality towards Afghan refugees is used to foster a sense of an exclusive nationhood that keeps those perceived as others at its margins. This is essential reading for academics working on refugee studies, sociology, and anthropology of migration in the Global South, and anyone wishing to better understand Iranian society and politics.
In Iran, the ‘guesting’ of Afghan refugees has always been a double-edged sword. Through incisive ethnographic observation, conversation, and conviviality over shared meals, Elisabeth Yarbakhsh prises apart the morally compelling, but fundamentally illusive, promise of hospitality. Working across scale and time, this searching and beautifully written book is at once an engaging tour of the city of Shiraz and centuries of Persian culture, as well as a sensitively attuned reflection on the challenges of life under the terms of a sanctuary that inscribes insecurity and exclusion.
Iranian Hospitality, Afghan Marginality offers original and thorough insights on the critical topic of Afghan migrants in Iran. Yarbakhsh brilliantly provides a profound and incisive analysis of social and societal identities by focusing on the experience of Afghan migrants in the city of Shiraz, Iran. This multidisciplinary work is a great contribution to the field of Iranian studies and should be highly recommended to anyone interested in examining identity, culture, ethnicity, and migration.