Feeding Iran: Shi'i Families and the Making of the Islamic Republic


3 to 4:30 p.m., Oct. 13, 2023

Rose Wellman is an anthropologist who specializes in Iran, the Middle East, and its diaspora, including Arab Detroit. Her book, Feeding Iran: Shi’i Families and the Making of the Islamic Republic, draws from more than a year of ethnographic research in Iran to explore how everyday family life and piety are linked to state power. Wellman is currently conducting research with Arab Americans, focusing on metro Detroit’s vibrant Iraqi community.

Since Iran's 1979 Revolution, the imperative to create and protect the inner purity of family and nation in the face of outside spiritual corruption has been a driving force in national politics. Through extensive fieldwork, Rose Wellman examines how Basiji families, as members of Iran's voluntary paramilitary organization, are encountering, enacting, and challenging this imperative. Her ethnography reveals how families and state elites are employing blood, food, and prayer in commemorations for martyrs in Islamic national rituals to create citizens who embody familial piety, purity, and closeness to God. Feeding Iran provides a rare and humanistic account of religion and family life in the post-revolutionary Islamic Republic that examines how home life and everyday piety are linked to state power.


This event is co-sponsored by the School of Middle Eastern and North African Studies, the Center for Regional Food Studies, and the Roshan Graduate Interdisciplinary Program in Persian & Iranian Studies.