I am professor in Ethnology at the department of Ethnology, History of Religion and Gender Studies. My main field of study is migration and displacement. In placing gender and sexuality at the centre of my research, I have engaged with issues of forced migration, citizenship, otherness, subjectivity, agency and marginality within different Western multicultural contexts. My work builds on critical cultural theories and methodologies that conceptualize the intersection of the discourses through which (un)desirable femininities and masculinities are constructed in different diasporic spaces. By examining the interanimations between social differences through empirical materials, I stretch the theorization of migration experiences and positioning in new directions. Through multi-sited ethnographies, I have illuminated the contribution of ethnological methodologies to forced and transnational migrations.
Gendering and Sexing Migration:
My doctoral thesis, Diasporic Narratives of Sexuality: Identity Formation among Iranian- Swedish women (2007), is a pioneering ethnographical account of sexuality among Iranian born women living in Sweden and was awarded the best dissertation in the Faculty of Humanities at Stockholm University. Gender, Sexuality and Diaspora (2018), published by Routledge in a completely revised version of my thesis. My postdoctoral research, Cultural and Racial Politics of Representation: A Study of Diasporic Masculinities among Iranian Men examines the under researched area of displaced masculinities through postcolonial, transnational and masculinities theories. Awareness of the importance of gender in migration studies has lengthy been addressed through women’ gendered and raced experiences. By studying male gendered experiences, I address a lacuna in current masculinities studies, which has tended to engage mainly with white men.
Through methodological attention over my experiences as a diasporic researcher who works on displaced sexuality and diaspora, I have written about positionality and overlapping power relations in which the produced knowledge is embedded.
The project Cartographies of hospitality: The gendered, racialised, and classed politics of hosting investigates a less prominent side of global mobility; hospitality. Taking advantage of my Wallenberg fellowship, I have developed a cross-national research collaboration, focusing on the dynamics of hospitality and hostility to migrantised and refugee populations in Sweden, England, Turkey and Jordanian. Engaging with critical race and whiteness studies, the project shows how the hospitable practices of individuals and civil society organizations are instrumentalized in order to both overlook governmental hostilities and displace their historical and global accountability.
The consistent conceptual thread running through all my work is the notion of home and belonging. The concept is not only is central in my work on the construction of diasporic femininities, masculinities and sexualities, it has also shaped my work on the concept of hospitality and who can be qualified as a host and who is considered and expected to act as a (grateful) guest. Due to this insistent engagement in the concept of home, I became interested in who feels ‘at home’ within the academy in general and within different scholarly communities? By examining how intersecting power relations shape the conceptualization and representation of produced knowledge and knowing subjects, in several writings on racialization and knowledge production, I show how the sense of epistemic entitlement establishes through racialised hierarchies within different academic settings.
A selection from Stockholm University publication database
Home and homelessness and everything in between
2015. Fataneh Farahani. The European Journal of Women's Studies 22 (2), 241-247Article
Diaspora och sexualitet
2013. Fataneh Farahani. Tidskrift för Genusvetenskap (4), 97-116Article
This article is about diaspora. Through an analysis of the narratives of first generation Iranianwomen living in Sweden, I demonstrate how migratory experiences impact sexuality and howand in what ways sexuality is constitutive to the migratory process. By discussing some of thekey subjects raised by the interviewees, such as intimacy in the diasporic space, contradictorygender discourses, the dominating impacts of existing Orientalist stereotypes, and their senseof (be)longing or lack of (be)longing, I examine how the women experience their sexualitythrough the intersecting and sometimes contradictory discourses.By focusing on entangled issues involving subjectivity, sameness, difference, otherness,domination, agency, and marginality, I destabilize essentialist approaches of identity. Withgender and sexuality as the main subjects of the analysis, I discuss how moral values of thewomen regarding (in)appropriate sexual behaviour undergo various transformations. Theytake part in multiple (Iranian and Swedish) discourses and discard others while striving tomake space for themselves ‘inside’ these constraining norms. The women experience adiscrepancy as a result of being thwarted by two seemingly different cultures – while bothcultures construct discourses filled with stereotypes of so-called natives and outsiders.However, living in Sweden, where intersecting racist and sexist discourses come to life on adaily basis, it is actually not a thwarting by ‘two cultures.’ It is, in fact, a merger ofSwedishness with Iranianness (with all their complexities), along with other characteristics. Itis a complexity within the culture(s) in which the women live.
Racializing Masculinities in Different Diasporic Spaces
2013. Fataneh Farahani. Rethinking Transnational Men, 147-162Chapter
Welcoming immigrants in Istanbul
2021. Nazlı Şenses, Fataneh Farahani. Journal of Sociology 57 (3), 725-742Article
This article examines the hospitality practices of pro-migrant civil society organisations in Istanbul. Drawing from qualitative interviews, we focus on intersecting gendered, professionalised and faith-based aspects of pro-migrant activities and explore the ways that politically and morally charged ambivalences of hospitality practices are articulated and negotiated. Moreover, by contextualising Turkey’s religious and geopolitical particularity as a gatekeeper of Europe, we work with Derrida’s concept of plural laws to investigate hospitality practices towards refugees in Istanbul. Civil actors’ intentions and attempts to be good citizens, Muslims, and care providers expose the intimate aspects of hospitality – a segue into discourses of displaced subjects’ (gendered) deservingness. By portraying how macro–micro, global–local and public–private relations condition hospitality practices, we observe how globalisation is lived intimately, influencing perceptions of deservingness and the prioritisation of displaced subjects’ need.
2020. Fataneh Farahani, Suruchi Thapar-Björkert. The Routledge Handbook of Masculinity Studies, 92-102Chapter
Moving beyond the seminal contributions of Beauvoir and Fanon on the discursive construction of Otherness, our chapter critically engages with the race-blindness of (western) feminist theories, the gender blindness and heteronormativity of (male) postcolonial theory and the ethnocentrism, race blindness and lack of historical specificity of Western (and white) masculinity studies. We draw on a postcolonial critical masculinities framework to examine the migratory and diasporic experiences of racialised men as gendered subjects in diverse contexts. We highlight how these masculinities are (re)articulated, contested and negotiated in and through specific historical moments, spatial and socio-political contexts, local/transnational discourses and in relation to other dominant/hegemonic (White) masculinities.
Focus: Artistic and Intellectual Hospitality
2020. Yasmin Gunaratnam, Fataneh Farahani.Other
As we write in July 2020, our everyday lives have been shaken by the mimetic entwining of two public health emergencies: COVID-19 and structural racism. “I know, as many do, that I’ve been living a pandemic all my life” Dionne Brand writes, “it is structural rather than viral; it is the global state of emergency of antiblackness”. With Black and poor communities across the globe hit the hardest, the coronavirus pandemic has peeled away any veneer of equality, exposing long shadows of dispossession.
In North America, the fatal killing of Ahmaud Arbery at the hands of white supremacists and the police murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd ignited global Black Lives Matter protests. In the midst of the pandemic and lockdown, protestors of all backgrounds and ages took to the streets, demanding an end to racist violence. Demonstrations spread to over 150 North American cities in the week following Floyd’s murder. In her poem Weather, Claudia Rankine animates the terms of the pandemic of anti-Blackness and racism: “Social distancing? Six feet under for underlying conditions./ Black….Whatever/ contracts keep us social compel us now/ to disorder the disorder. Peace. We’re out/ to repair the future.”
The imperative to “repair the future” has lent energy and urgency to more longstanding intersectional justice campaigns, from those demanding the removal of statues commemorating slave owners and colonialists to the contested meanings of the call for universities to decolonise. Taking account of the proliferation of numerous types of hostility, violence and enclosure, as well as mutual aid and new organised political resistance, our authors join us in exploring the many faces and tensions of hospitality in their work and lives as scholars, artists and activists. Their contributions extend earlier discussions of intellectual and artistic hospitality in the wake of the fatwa against Salman Rushdie in 1998 and subsequent initiatives to provide residency programmes and cities of sanctuary to shelter persecuted writers and exiles.
Gender, Sexuality and Diaspora
2018. Fataneh Farahani.Book
Seeking to expand the focus on changing gender roles and construction of diasporic femininities and sexualities in migration studies, Farahani presents an original analysis of first generation Iranian immigrant women in Sweden. Certainly, highlighting the hybrid experiences of Swedish Iranians, Farahani explores the tensions that develop between the process of (self)disciplining women’s bodies and the coping tactics that women employ. Subsequently, Gender, Sexuality, and Diaspora demonstrates how migratory experiences impact sexuality and, conversely, how sexuality is constitutive of migratory processes.
A timely book rich with empirical and theoretical insights on the subject of gender, diaspora and sexuality, it will appeal to scholars and undergraduate and postgraduate students of gender studies, anthropology, sociology, sexuality studies, diaspora, postcolonial and Middle Eastern studies.
2017. Fataneh Farahani, Anna Lundberg. Tidskrift för Genusvetenskap 38 (3), 77-101Article
The dialogue-based article departs from our persistent research engagement with intersectional feminist approaches and questions related to racialization, representation, locationality and positionality. We focus on the notion of home and homelessness, longing and belonging, migration and knowledge production.
Some of the troubling questions we engage with are: How are the (im)possibility of feeling at home, migratory subject positions, and knowledge production conditioned by shifting socio-political contexts, culturally coded circumstances and the conceptualisation of difference? How do constantly shifting and intersected power hierarchies (re)shape the conceptualisation and (re)presentation of the certain types of knowledge and knowledge-makers through academic production, and through literary and visual means?
These questions are discussed in dialogue between us, two Swedish gender researchers interested in cultural practices and cultural representations. The article unfolds through a dialogical method where, initially, our respective positions and research inputs, in relation to the article’s questions, are presented. The article continues to discuss the very same questions predominantly through different literary and visual examples. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichies’ TED talk, The danger of single story, has an evolving and central role in our dialogue. By linking different examples to the existing intersecting institutionalized power relations, we show that the personal is institutional.
Rasifiering av kunskapsproduktion
2017. Fataneh Farahani, Suruchi Thapar-Björkert. Tidskrift för Genusvetenskap 38 (4), 31-53Article
The central aim of this article is to examine intersectional processes of racialisation within the academic communities: racialisation of knowledge producers and their produced knowledge. We explore what kinds of knowledge productions and knowing subject positions are rendered (im)possible in everyday academic interactions. We use our racialised scholarly experiences as a methodological entry point to contextualise the navigations and negotiations of shifting and intersecting power relations. Our analytical reasoning is presented through several steps. First, we discuss how academic habitus and affiliations maintained in various formal and informal forums are based on established, racialised norms. Second, we discuss how the presence or absence of epistemic entitlement within different academic settings and communities is established through racialised hierarchies. Thus the physical, social, intellectual and emotional spaces that we inhabit create comfort zones for some and discomfort zones for others. Third, we argue how managing the existing accent ceiling becomes a mode for navigating the conditioning norms of whiteness. In our conclusions, we reflect on the passivity, silences as well as (mis)use of the vocabulary of anti-racism and intersectionality as a form of 'white' capital for shoring their privileges further rather than undoing it.
The Racialised Knowledge Economy
2019. Fataneh Farahani, Suruchi Thapar-Björkert. Narratives of Marginalized Identities in Higher Education, 86-99Chapter
The focus of this article is to challenge and problematise how racialising and othering processes construct knowledge production and knowing subjects in the academic institutions. We draw on our conversations, writings, and experiences within the Swedish academy as “non-Swedes” (for discussion on construction of Swedishness, see Mattsson, 2005) and through our specific geo-political positionalities (Farahani, 2010, 2015; Koobak & Thapar-Björkert, 2012). Thapar-Björkert’s post-colonial positionality was shaped through the legacy of her parents’ anti-colonial activism. The spatial-colonial contexts of academic institutions in the United Kingdom, together with the nationalist biographical trajectories that she shared with her parents in India, gave postcoloniality an emotional and political salience. She developed strong perceptions of “white privilege” encompassed within what Chicano scholars refer to as “academic colonialism” (see Reyes & Halcon, 1988). Farahani was raised in a traditional working-class family in a specific political-historical Iranian setting and carried a suitcase filled with failed dreams of a miscarried revolution (1979 Iranian revolution), a pointless, long war between Iran and Iraq (1980–1988), and several experiences of exile. Her entrance to Western academia as a “mature” and “different” student is characterised by firsthand experience of the variety of (post) colonial challenges of “adjustment” to different societies and academic milieus. We consider our positions and positionings as a ‘space for theorising” (hooks, 1989) and our theorising as a “location of healing” (hooks, 2005: 36. hooks, 1994) to articulate multilayered subject positions which locate us differently in different contexts. Emphasising the empirical significance of intersectionality for transformative knowledge production, we aim to distance ourselves from a deployment of “ornamental intersectionality” which as Bilge (2013) argues is an active disarticulation of radical politics of social justice and undermines intersectionality’s credibility as “an analytical and political tool elaborated by less powerful social actors facing multiple minoritizations” (see Bilge, 2013, p. 410). By employing our personal—yet subjective and mediated—experiences, we pay particular attention to how we can use (our) 87experience as an analytical source. However, we want to avoid offering our experiences an exclusive privilege of definition since it might strengthen an epistemological standpoint that those who have “experience” know better and have somehow access to genuine knowledge, regardless of their intersecting subject positions, political ideologies and positionalities in relation to power and powerlessness. On the other hand, disregarding and disbelieving people’s lived experiences has always been a powerful approach to discredit the political views, writings, or artistic expressions of women and racialised and sexualised minorities. In doing so, the experience of unmarked privilege (white—male middleclass—privilege) becomes the only dominant singular story. In addition, by merely placing accounts of people of colour and women in the category of “experiential,” we neglect their theoretical contributions. As a result, white scholars are often seen as the only ones most equipped for theorising and producing knowledge and in a schema which constructs a disembodied theorist as the legitimate academic subject, drawing on one’s own experiences of racialisation can be “dismissed as subjective and ‘confessional’” (Simmonds, 1997, p. 52).
2012. Fataneh Farahani. Nordic Journal of Migration Research 2 (2), 159-166Article
This article is based on reflections that have grown during the ongoing research on construction of masculinities and sexualities in different diasporic spaces. By focusing on theoretical and contextual reflections regarding conditions of leaving, arrival and residency among Iranian-born men who live in Sydney, Stockholm and London, this article focuses on intersecting factors that construct masculinities in different diasporic spaces. Migratory masculine subjectivities are not only shifting and plural, but also reveal the multiple interactions of factors such as race, age, class, self and community, past and present, the political and the religious and through the continual negotiation of identity.
On Being an Insider and/or an Outsider
2011. Fataneh Farahani. Education Without BordersChapter
Epistemic modalities of racialised knowledge production in the Swedish academy
2019. Suruchi Thapar-Björkert, Fataneh Farahani. Ethnic and Racial Studies 42 (16), 214-232Article
The central aim of this article is to examine the impact of racialization processes within the Swedish academic community in order to understand what kinds of knowledge productions and knowing subject positions are rendered (im)possible in everyday academic interactions. Through autoethnography as an alternative methodological entry point, we analyse our embodied racialised experiences of navigating through historically white universities within a geo-political context framed through a supposedly “colour blind” and “post-racial society”. Our analytical reasoning is presented through several steps. First, we discuss how academic habitus and affiliations maintained in various scientific forums is informed through established, racialised norms and if/whose knowledge is marginalized, devalued, or/and is included due to the reductive representation. Second, we discuss how an uncultivated sense of epistemic entitlement, within different academic settings and communities, constructs indisputable knowing subjects and generates (un)earned (un)comfortable zones. Third, we argue how managing the existing accent ceiling becomes a mode for navigating the norms of whiteness.
Hospitality and hostility
2021. Fataneh Farahani. Journal of Sociology 57 (3), 664-673Article
Until recently, studies of hospitality have been less prominent within the broader context of studies of global mobilities. Yet, both are entangled. In this special section of the Journal of Sociology, we explore the effects of narratives of ‘migration crisis’ or ‘refugee crisis’ in contemporary, intersected global and local politics and studies of hospitality. In doing so, contributors bring hospitality and mobility studies into closer dialogue by turning their attention to the dilemmas of intimate life and refugee hosting.
Cultural and racial politics of representation
2009. Fataneh Farahani. GEXcel Work in Progress Report, vol. 7, 77-89Chapter
Building upon my doctoral thesis, Diasporic Narratives of Sexuality: Identity Formation among Iranian-Swedish Women", the research proposed here seeks to examine the under-researched area of masculinity and sexuality of Iranian men living in different diasporic spaces. For the purposes of this research I seek to investigate (a) the effect of Iranian Islamic cultures and socializations, (b) the experiences of migration and ethnic relations on the men’s practices of masculinity and sexuality, and (c) how these influences may complicate their (re) presentation and perceptions of their masculinities and sexual experiences. By studying the impact of Orientalist views on the men’s identity formations, this study aims to explore how Iranian born men (re)negotiate masculinity, sexuality and subjectivity as they confront the variety of orientalist stereotypes in different diasporc spaces. By analyzing how the dichotomization of ‘we and them’ arises in media, literature, and film among others, I aim to understand not only what prejudices the interviewee men face on a daily basis, but also how the stereotypes are used to differentiate Iranian (Middle Eastern) men from ‘liberated and equal seeking’ white Western men.