IAAB Conference

Presented by Iranian Alliances Across Borders (IAAB), with generous co-sponsorship from the UCLA Department of Anthropology, the UCLA Dean of Social Sciences, and the G.E. Von Grunebaum Center for Near Eastern Studies.

The 2012 IAAB International Conference on the Iranian Diaspora took place at Covel Commons on the University of California, Los Angeles campus located in the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles.

Conference Schedule

Day 1: Saturday, October 13, 2012

8:30 - 9:00am Registration & Breakfast

9:00am Welcome & Opening Remarks – Mana Kharrazi (Executive Director, IAAB) & Amy Malek (Conference Director, IAAB/UCLA)


9:10am Panel 1

Education in Diaspora: Pedagogical Questions and Possibilities

Chair/Discussant: Dr. Marjorie Orellana (UCLA)

Ms. Aitak Ajangzad (Columbia University) – “Music Education as a Way of Fostering Linguistic Skills and Cultural Knowledge in Young Children”

Dr. Shirin Vossoughi (Stanford University) – “Cultural Production, Solidarity, and the Arts at Camp Ayandeh and Camp Javan: A Pedagogy of Questions”

Mr. Aria Fani (Iranian School of San Diego) – “Persian as a Heritage Language in the U.S."

Ms. Golnesa Asheghali (George Mason University) – “Finding Ourselves? Language and Identity in the University Classroom"


10:25am Tea Break


10:35 KEYNOTE: Ms. Noosheen Hashemi (The HAND Foundation)

Ms. Noosheen Hashemi, President and co-founder of The HAND Foundation, is a philanthropist with a passion for entrepreneurship and economic development.


11:00 Panel 2

Iranian Refugees & Asylees: Rights, Challenges, and Advocacy

Chair/Discussant: Ms. Shirin Hakimzadeh (IAAB)

Ms. Niloufar Khonsari (Omid Advocates for Human Rights) – “Iranian Refugees Abroad: Legal Rights and Challenges”

Dr. Omid Tofighian (Univ. of Western Sydney, Australia) – “Iranians continue to be persecuted after fleeing Iran: Australia’s Human Rights Dilemma”

Mr. Adam Cameron (International Rescue Committee, Los Angeles) – “A Brief History of Iranian Refugee Resettlement in the United States”

Mr. Ally Bolour (ORAM) – "Iranian LGBTI Asylees and Refugees"


12:15pm Lunch


12:45 Breakout Sessions: Roundtables & Workshops

(Note: all sessions run concurrently in one 45-minute period)

Supporting the Rights of Iranian Refugees (South Bay Room)

Facilitator: Ms. Niloufar Khonsari

Represented Organizations:

  • Omid Advocates for Human Rights – Ms. Dorinda Vassigh
  • International Rescue Committee – Mr. Adam Cameron
  • Organization for Rescue, Asylum, and Migration (ORAM) – Mr. Ally Bolour
  • Refugee Solidarity Network (RSN)
What are the Impacts of sanctions on Iranian Americans? (North Ridge Room B)

Facilitator: Mr. Ronald Meltzer (WilmerHale)

Of Home, Exile, and Other Fictions: Iranian Diaspora Writers’ Roundtable (Grand Horizon Room)

Facilitator: Dr. Jasmin Darznik


  • Ms. Anita Amirrezvani
  • Dr. Persis Karim
  • Dr. Roger Sedarat
  • Ms. Sholeh Wolpe
Iranian Community Centers: Lessons Learned, Models, and Challenges (West Coast Room A)

Facilitator: Ms. Sarah Khanghahi


  • Parya Trillium Foundation, Toronto, Canada – Mr. Ahmad Tabrizi
  • Network of Iranian American Professionals of Orange County (NIPOC) – Mr. Mike Kazemi, Esq.
  • Persian Cultural Center (PCC), San Diego – Mr. Ali Sadr
The Roles of Iranian Student Organizations: Advocacy vs. Cultural Programming? (West Coast Room B)

Facilitator: Ms. Pardis Bakheshi


  • Mr. Shervin Etemad (IAAB)
  • Ms. Halleh Hashtpari (UCLA)


1:30Tea Break


1:40 Panel 3

Cultural Production in the Iranian Diaspora: Cutting-Edge Practitioners Speak

Chair/Discussant: Ms. Amy Malek (IAAB/UCLA)

Ms. Porochista Khakpour – “On Being Labelled 'Cutting-Edge': How to Own the Margins of the Marginalized”

Slavs and Tatars (Art Collective) – “The Faculty of Substitution”

Mr. Ayat Najafi – “Identifying with Film-Farsi”

Dr. Mammad Aidani (Univ. of Melbourne, Australia) – “What is Deposited in the Mother Tongue: Making Theatre in Diaspora”


2:55 Tea Break


3:05 Panel 4

Holding a Mirror to Ourselves: Critiques and Dialogues

Chair/Discussant: Ms. Elham Gheytanchi (Santa Monica College)

Mr. Arash Davari (UCLA) – “When Democratic Solidarity Went Abroad: A Study of Formal Interactive Talk in the Iranian Diaspora”

Ms. Beeta Baghoolizadeh (Univ. of Pennsylvania) – “Iranian Racism: its history and the lingering legacy”

Ms. Orly Rahimiyan (Ben-Gurion University of the Negev) – "My Homeland, My Diaspora: Iranian Jewish Identity in Modern Times"


4:05 Tea Break


4:15 Storytelling Performance: Ms. Ziba Shirazi – “Lost Identity,” from Story & Song


4:40 Panel 5

Storytelling: Oral, Visual, and Multimedia Histories of Iranians in Diaspora

Chair/Discussant: Dr. Nasrin Rahimieh (UC Irvine)

Ms.Homa Sarshar (Journalist & Writer) – "Oral History Projects of Iranians in Diaspora"

Ms. Pardis Shafafi (Univ. of St. Andrews, Scotland) – “Romance and Revolution: Narratives of the past by former Iranian communists in Oslo, Norway”

Dr. Bronwen Robertson (London, UK) – “Out of the country, still trapped in the closet: homophobia and the widespread intolerance of sexual diversity in Iran's diaspora communities"

Mr. Sourena Parham (ShahreFarhang.com) – "Documenting Visual Histories of Everyday Iranian Lives on ShahreFarhang.com"


6:00 End of Day 1 Conference sessions


Saturday Evening recommended event:

IAAB is pleased to support the Los Angeles debut of Mahmoud – Tara Gerami’s award-winning one-woman play that took top honors at the 2012 Toronto and New York Fringe Festivals! IAAB Conference attendees are eligible for discount tickets to the Los Angeles performances on October 12-14, 2012 at the Santa Monica Playhouse. Don’t miss it!


Day 2: Sunday, October 14, 2012

9:00 - 9:30 Registration & Breakfast

9:30 Welcome – Amy Malek, Conference Director (IAAB/UCLA)


9:35 Panel 6

Iranians Online & Offline: Place and Space in Diaspora

Chair/Discussant: TBA

Dr. Babak Elahi (Rochester Institute of Technology) – “Crossing Tehran Avenue: The Convergence of Digital, Urban, and Diasporic Iranian Spaces”

Ms. Donya Alinejad (Vrije Universiteit, Netherlands) – “The fixities and fluidities of home in a digital age: a virtual ethnography of second-generation Iranian Los Angeles”

Mr. Pouya Jahanshahi (Laguna College of Art & Design) & Mr. Jeff Knowlton (34 North 118 West) – “Tehrangeles Portal”

Ms. Sanaz Raji (University of Leeds, UK) – "Israelis and Iranians: Get a Room!": Love, Hate and Transnational Politics from the Israel loves Iran and Iran loves Israel Campaign


10:50 Tea Break


11:00 KEYNOTE: Dr. Hamid Naficy (Northwestern University)

Dr. Hamid Naficy is a Professor of Radio-Television-Film and the Hamid Bin Khalifa Al-Thani Professor in Communication at Northwestern University. He is a leading authority in cultural studies of diaspora, exile, and postcolonial cinemas and media and of Iranian and Middle Eastern cinemas.


11:30 Special Guest Talk: Mr. Shahin Najafi, musician and poet


11:45 Tea Break


11:55 Panel 7

The Production of Diasporic Media: News & Journalism

Chair/Discussant: Dr. Mehdi Yahyanejad (Balatarin.com/USC)

Ms. Golnoush Niknejad (TehranBureau.com) – “The Tehran Bureau. Digital News on Iran and the Iranian Diaspora”

Ms. Sima Sahar Zerehi (Shahrvand Newspaper, Toronto) – "From Home to Host Country: The Role of Ethnic Media in Weaving Local and Global Communities"

Mr. Mahmood Enayat (Univ. of Oxford, UK) – "Finding a Way: How Iranians Reach for News and Information"


12:55pm Lunch


1:25 Panel 8

Race & Profiling: Discrimination, Immigration, and the Pursuit of Justice in Iranian America

Chair/Discussant:Professor Aslı Ü. Bâli(UCLA School of Law)

Mr. John Tehranian (Southwestern Law School) – “Who’s Afraid of Hussein, or Playing Cowboys and Iranians: The Trope of Colorblindness in the Age of Obama”

Ms. Mitra Ebadolahi (ACLU) – “Coming of Age Post-9/11: Reflections on an Era of Discrimination and Our Role in the Pursuit of Justice”

Ms. Nakkisa Akhavan (UCLA School of Law) – “The Unholy Union of Immigration and Counterterrorism: Disproportionate Targeting of Middle Easterners post-9/11 and Recommendations Looking to the Second Decade”


2:25 Tea Break


2:35 Breakout Sessions: Roundtables, Workshops, & Screening

(Note: all sessions run concurrently in one 45-minute period)



Immigration: Undocumented Experiences, Challenges, and Paths Forward (South Bay Room)

Facilitator: Ms. Pouneh Behin


  • Mr. Mohammad Abdollahi
  • Ms. Shirin Hakimzadeh
  • Mr. Diego Sepulveda
Social Services and the Iranian American Community (West Coast Room B)

Facilitator: Ms. Mastaneh Moghadam, LSW (Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles)

Filmmakers’ Roundtable (Grand Horizon Room)

Facilitator: Mr. Arash Saedinia


  • Ms. Yassaman Ameri (dir., Marginal Road)
  • Ms. Ana Lily Amirpour (dir., Pashmaloo)
  • Ms. Aggie Ebrahimi Bazaz (dir., Inheritance)
  • Mr. Ayat Najafi (dir., Football Under Cover)
  • Mr. Ashkan Nasseri (dir., Dar An Sooy)
Human Sciences and Iranian Diaspora Studies (West Coast Room A)

Facilitator: Dr. Mazyar Lotfalian (UC Irvine)


  • Dr. Touraj Daryaee (UC Irvine)
  • Dr. Persis Karim (San Jose State University)
  • Dr. Nasrin Rahimieh (UC Irvine)


New Constellations: Contemporary Iranian Video Art (North Ridge Room B)

New Constellations, programmed by Amirali Ghasemi and Sanaz Mazinani, is the first screening of contemporary Iranian video art in Los Angeles of its kind. This program highlights works by artists of Iranian descent living outside of the country, and is culled from an ongoing archive of vibrant new wave video art collected and catalogued by Ghasemi of Parkingallery in Tehran since 2004.


3:20 Tea Break


3:30 Panel 9

Bringing Us Together: Innovative Diasporic Community Organizing

Chair/Discussant: Ms. Narges Bajoghli (IAAB/NYU)

Ms. Golineh Atai (co-founder and V.P., DIWAN, Germany) – “How a (socio-) cultural initiative, founded by 2nd- and 3rd- generation Iranians can bring together Iranians of all age and Germans”

Mr. Mehrdad Ariannejad (founder and CEO, Tirgan Festival) – “Tirgan, the Largest Iranian Cultural Festival in the World, Outside Iran”

Mrs. Hoori Sadler (founder and president, Persian American Cancer Institute)

Mr. Ahmad Tabrizi (founder and president, Parya Trillium Foundation)


4:45 Tea Break


4:55 Panel 10

Transnational Activism in and between Iran and the Iranian Diaspora

Chair/Discussant: Dr. Nayereh Tohidi (CSU, Northridge)

Dr. Paola Rivetti (Dublin City University, Ireland) – “The Role of Diasporas in Establishing Transnational Activism: The Case of Iran”

Dr. Catherine Sameh (Barnard Center for Research on Women) – “Beyond "Shahs of Sunset:" Feminist and Activist Narratives from the Iranian Diaspora in Southern California”

Mr. Sadra Shahab (Pratt Institute Programs for Sustainable Planning and Development) – "Connecting Activists: Challenges to Collaboration in Iranian Transnational Activism"


6:00pm End of Conference


EXILE Film Series

IAAB is pleased to present a film series during the 2012 IAAB Conference, featuring the work of Iranian filmmakers in diaspora, and organized around the theme of Exile. Films will be screened throughout the weekend at the conference venue. Hear from the filmmakers during the Filmmakers’ Roundtable on Sunday.


Game Demo & Interactive Presentation

Mr. Peter Brinson and Mr. Kurosh ValaNejad -- “The Cat and the Coup”

"The Cat and the Coup" is a documentary videogame in which you play the cat of Dr. Mohammed Mossadegh, the democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran. During the summer of 1953, the CIA engineered a coup to bring about his downfall. As a player, you coax Mossadegh back through significant events of his life by knocking objects off of shelves, scattering his papers, jumping on his lap and scratching him.