Say What Your Longing Heart Desires: Women, Prayer, and Poetry in Iran
My project on prayer and poetry was just published: Say What Your Longing Heart Desires: Women, Prayer, and Poetry in Iran (Stanford University Press). I begin this book with the question of how we can avoid looking at revolutions as either failures or successes. The 1979 revolution in Iran resulted in a mass involvement with theological questions—most notably, what kind of Islam is the true one?
Artwork by Jason Noushin
The question that has motivated much of my work so far has been: What difference does language make? What difference does it make in our relationships, religious acts, beliefs, our memories, and more broadly all that in one way or another involves language? I want to understand how the circle that is language changing society (community, politics, religion, rituals) changing language actually works.
The project I have just begun working on is on questions of voice, presence and absence. It seems to me that translations of sacred texts produce an absence—that of the voice of the divine. What kind of theoretical framework can hear this voice? In thinking about this and similar questions, I am inspired by the work of Michel de Certeau, Walter Benjamin, Robert Orsi and Hans Ulrich Gumbrech.