Diaspora: Report on a Conference
By Carolyn Yale (Shiraz, 1974-75)
It is estimated that as many as 4 million Iranians now live outside their homeland in countries as far-flung as Malaysia, Germany, and the United States. The largest numbers of emigres and people of Iranian descent are in countries neighboring Iran, such as Bahrain, Afghanistan, and the United Arab Emirates, which speaks deeply about Iran’s ties to the region. I learned all this and more at Forty Years and More, a conference organized by the Center for Iranian Diaspora Studies, located at San Francisco State University (SFSU). The Center owes its existence to a local Iranian American sponsor and supporter of SFSU; it owes its inspired program to the leadership of the chair, Dr. Persis Karim. The conference brought together speakers and panelists from across the country and beyond, and covered everything from art and literature to race and social justice. In particular, this was an occasion for people of the diaspora to come together, network and plan for the future, whether through music or social activism or helping to record for posterity the history of diaspora communities. Dr. Karim has promised to post videos and photographs from the conference: Keep an eye on the Center website. We will have the opportunity to hear more about the Iranian diaspora from Dr. Karim at the PCIA conference in October, as she is one of our invited speakers.