Ethnographies rely on the method of participant observation, from which a precise detailing of the everyday life and culture of a place is pieced together. The researcher must “go native,” immersing herself in the culture for long periods of time. [Roxanne] Varzi, our participant observer and a professor of anthropology at UC Irvine, is, beyond this, of Iranian descent as well, which gives her a valuable insider perspective. Drawing on more than a decade of fieldwork, Varzi’s research spans from the cultural production of the Iranian state, especially around the war with Iraq, to alternative, non-state sanctioned culture, like the underground theatrical performances on which this book is based.

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