Pedram Khosronejad

Pedram Khosronejad's picture
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Dept. Social Anthropology, Univ. of St Andrews, U.K.
Bio Statement: 
My doctoral research and subsequent fieldwork has primarily focused on establishing an ethnographic understanding of death and dying among the Bakhtiari, a group of pastoral nomads in the southwest of Iran. My doctoral thesis explores these themes as they relate to the material and visual culture of death through the analysis of sacred landscape, religious objects, and holy paraphernalia. Building on this research, my work has been motivated by an interest in digital visual piety, devotional artefacts, and religious material culture in the Middle East and Muslim societies more generally. Here, I am particularly intrigued by understandings of memory, loss, and death, via digital media as well as their creation, circulation and usage on online religious networks. Juxtaposing various interdisciplinary approaches, including those related to the study of religion, visual theory, and communication media studies, I have engaged with research conducted on war martyrdom and memory in the context of Shi’ite piety, especially in the Middle East. One of my primary aims has been to understand the interplay between faith, trauma, and memory as well as the creation, circulation, and function of religious digital images. Thus, one of my research projects currently under development includes examination of images of belongings of Iran’s unknown martyrs (ID photos, clothes, material remains, tombstones, shrines) and the generation of complex narratives, dreams, and religious beliefs by the martyrs’ families, central to the creation of new saints and new digital sites of devotion and pilgrimage (digital and online pilgrimage, for example). This process has become increasingly relevant in light of recent, prominent campaigns for the reburial of unknown martyrs, which are politically as well as religiously motivated. The corpses of anonymous soldiers are thought to sanctify the sites in which they are placed regardless of the origins of the dead, leading to the construction of new shrines in what were previously forgotten areas. This has in certain instances led to the emergence of new conceptualizations of religious space, memory, and the self.
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