Storytelling, Memory, and Nostalgia: The Identities of Iranian Revolutionary Migrants and First-Generation Persian-Americans
Rahimi, Rebecca Tannaz
The Iranian Revolution of 1979 prompted a wave of Iranian migrants to leave their homeland and move, largely, to the United States. These exiled individuals were forced to navigate their cultural identities through the gaze of the western “other” and were faced with the task of assimilation and hybridization. Most migrants settled in Los Angeles, California and established newfound home by reinstating a communal collective. Simultaneously, individuals were overwhelmed by feelings of nostalgia and loss, only to be eased by processes of gathering, traditional rituals, and kinship. First-generation Persian-Americans experience the loss of having not grown up in Iran like their parents, and therefore overwhelmed by a sense of second-hand nostalgia. This paper looks the ways in which memory, storytelling, and nostalgia are used as frameworks to form the identities of Iranian Revolutionary migrants and first-generation Persian-Americans. This paper weaves together ethnography, memoir, and academic scholarship in order to understand the nuances of culture when constructing hybridized identities. All individuals interviewed viewed the label “Persian” as an identity to reclaim through conscious placemaking.