Homeland Imprisoned Within Itself

Leading up to and during the Iranian Revolution, huge numbers of Iranians fled their country and moved to the West. The Iranian diaspora now has pockets throughout Europe and the US. Nowhere is the population of Iranian refugees and their children larger than in Los Angeles, known in the Persian community there as Tehrangeles, and population estimates range between 700,000 and 800,00 Iranians (far more than the population of Boston proper). Because of the huge restrictions on music production in Iran, the majority of Iranian pop music is now produced in LA and distributed in Iran via satellite channels and the internet.

Hengameh, an Iranian American artist based out of LA produced a song in 2006 called “Iran.” Similar to the Turkish songs we listened to in class, Hengameh’s song is a mournful love song about her homeland. Employing acoustic guitar and accordion combined with entirely Farsi lyrics, Hengameh combines American musical tactics with Persian poetics. “From you hardly a word, and me with a broken heart,” she sings evoking the loss of a beloved father. She does not shy from politics either, singing about “a great old homeland, imprisoned within itself.” Hengameh’s song exemplifies the pan-Middle Estern topic of homeland in music and approaches it in a way that emotionally connects with Iranians both inside and outside of Iran.

Watch the music video here: Iran- Hengameh

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2 Responses to Homeland Imprisoned Within Itself

  1. Anat Waldman says:

    I think the idea that this music, produced by Iranians in diaspora, being broadcast in Iran itself is really interesting. Do you happen to know anything about the popularity of the music within Iran, or how distribution of this music there works? I’m wondering if it’s something the government actively seeks to censor, or if it’s a bit more under the radar?

  2. Interesting! It might be fruitful to compare the connection to place produced in exile with those produced from a non-nationalist center within a country (i.e. Istanbul for Stokes.).

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