SOAS University of London

The Middle East in London Relaunches with New Look and Wider Focus

27 January 2011
Feb-March Cover Middle East in London

The LMEI is delighted to announce a new, re-designed The Middle East in London.

While continuing  its commitment to exploring the richness and breadth of Middle East-related activities in our capital city, the magazine’s remit has been widened to include a better balance between current affairs and art and culture, the ‘Letter from the LMEI’ has been replaced with a lively opinion section entitled ‘Insight’ and the popular poetry page has been turned into a permanent fixture. 

The magazine is also moving to a new, bi-monthly format, and the number of pages in each edition has been increased.

This first issue of the revamped The Middle East in London focuses on Iran and covers two strands of work: first, the most serious challenges currently facing Iran, including the tightening sanctions regime and the ever-present threat of military intervention; and second, contemporary forms of expression within Iranian culture.

It is a powerful irony that, under the surveillance of a repressive regime, we are witnessing a burgeoning of creativity inside Iran, using both old and new genres and forms. 

Theatre, especially from a global repertoire, is attracting audiences. While a performance of Hedda Gabler was recently closed down, Parastoo Dokouhaki describes a highly experimental reading of Caligula that resonated with the Tehran audience. 

Musical performance has not had an easy time under the Islamic Republic, and yet people aredevising new spaces and creative formats: Bronwen Robertson describes a performance of experimental sound and noise music in Tehran that would have challenged any Western audience.

The digital arts have found many new practitioners, with photography enjoying a boom time: Haleh Anvari describes her innovative way of allowing Iranians to represent themselves and share their images online.

London is now home to many different communities of Iranians and is becoming a major hub of Iranian creative arts. Sahba Ladjevardi and Adom Saboonchian provide a neat history of the development of community organisations here. New gallery spaces for Middle Eastern art have opened and numerous recent art shows have focused on contemporary Iranian art. There are poetry recitals, novels are being published and interest in Iranian film is high, even as the Islamic Republic imprisons its top directors, such as Jafar Panahi and Mohammad Rasoulof. Even television has recently been developed here in London, beaming novel entertainment programmes to evidently eager audiences inside Iran.

Not only do these pieces reflect a wide range of cultural themes, but they are also written by a new generation of scholars of popular culture who come from a range of  disciplines that open up new academic and intellectual debates about Iran.

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