Real and Imagined Landscapes of Paradise in Iran

Samii, Manzar. 2022. Real and Imagined Landscapes of Paradise in Iran. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This thesis is an examination of Persian cemeteries and gardens as a means of better understanding what possibilities they hold for real and imagined landscapes of paradise. By taking an interdisciplinary approach and conducting fieldwork through a multi-sited ethnography of place, cemeteries and gardens are read theoretically, physically, and spiritually, highlighting the ways in which they evoke paradise and how ideas of paradise are not only fundamental for thinking about the future, but are also used to define the past. Twelve disparate case studies across Iran (seven gardens and five cemeteries) are considered based on how they are inhabited, maintained, experienced, and theorised as heterotopias. This creates the basis for understanding what it means to live and what it might mean to die in Iran. The locations selected lay the groundwork for insights into questions around death and memory, paradise and promises, gender and ritual, class and culture, and how each of these carry possibilities for the future. Central to this process are matters related to epistemology and ontology as related to real places that represent imagined worlds. In other words, it is not enough to simply think of these locations as nostalgic, exotic, or pristine. Rather, I argue for the necessity of a more holistic approach that threads together the ways in which realities and imagined places are intertwined in and through these places. I propose that the real and imagined cannot be easily separated and should not be within these locations that continue to be pillars of Iranian culture and society because within these places are spaces that create openings and gaps to overcome social inequality in life and into death.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):

Additional Information:

A a permanent embargo has been granted on the thesis following consideration by the Postgraduate Research Board (PRB) at Goldsmiths.

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies


31 October 2022

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

21 Nov 2022 14:35

Last Modified:

21 Nov 2022 18:00


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