Violence's Vestiges:

The Martyrs' Museum in Tehran

Tuesday 12 February, 2013
6pm, $0/Rsvp

Institute of Fine Arts
1 East 78 Street

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The Central Martyrs’ Museum in Tehran is the largest cultural repository in Iran containing personal artifacts and arts belonging to individuals who perished during the Islamic Revolution (1979) and the Iran-Iraq War (1980-88). Although scholarship frequently considers the museum a secular invention of the Enlightenment, this presentation argues that it also can provide an ideologically circumscribed ceremonial setting that seeks to prompt ritual activity and devotional behavior among its visitors. The Martyrs’ Museum, as a case in point, reveals how a cultural institution can provide a dramatic field in which subjects engage in the communal acts of remembrance and mourning, putatively uniting them into a cohesive civic body. As will be shown, an analysis of this museum, its layout, and display objects come together in a greater drive to institutionalize and aestheticize trauma and violence in a post-revolutionary Iranian context, thereby prompting a reevaluation and expansion of current theoretical approaches to the concept of the “museum.”
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