Job Talk: Affective narratives of vulnerability: Iranian social media and nationalism in a time of crisis.
The talk examines the emotional and affective politics around the Western-led ‘economic’ sanctions on Iran, within a theoretical framework informed by postcolonial and intersectional feminist studies. It focuses on the production and mediation of affective narratives generated and circulated by Iranian users on Facebook around imaginings of Iran as a suffering and vulnerable nation. The lecture explores how sanctions have been felt and produced as ‘national crisis’, associated with an exceptional precarity, towards which the Iranian national imaginary was oriented. The talk contends that the framing of events in this way promotes new forms of division between ‘us’ and ‘them’, and suggest that this perspective can be widely applied, within a global context in which nationalisms are being discursively reshaped as responses to particular ‘crises’ such as migration, especially refugee inflows. In mapping the mobilisation of affect and its role in the constitution of economic sanctions as crisis, it discusses emotional discourses on Iranian social media in terms of the differential global allocation of livabilities, where some bodies are deemed to be more grievable, and hence more deserving of empathy than others.
Sara Tafakori has recently completed her PhD at the University of Manchester, UK, where she also taught on the politics of gender and the Middle East. She was brought up and lived in Iran, where she worked as a journalist and reporter on national newspapers and journals. Her research interests include affect and emotion, the politics of nationalism and belonging, migration and diaspora, social media and emotional publics, intersectionality and postcolonial feminism, and gender and sexuality in the Middle East.