Farzaneh Milani’s Words, Not Swords: Iranian Women Writers and the Freedom of Movement and Kamran Talattof’s Modernity, Sexuality, and Ideology in Iran: The Life and Legacy of a Popular Female Artist are co-recipients of the Latifeh Yarshater Book Award presented by the International Society of Iranian Studies.
The award, announced this month at the organization’s annual conference in Turkey, comes after Milani was named “Woman of the Year” by the Iranian Women Studies Foundation in June. In Words, Not Swords, Milani challenges what she sees as the narrow Western stereotype of the shrouded, oppressed Muslim woman who is a captive of her faith and her veil. Milani—born and raised in Tehran and educated in French and American schools—used the lens of poetry, prose and film to argue in the book that Iranian women’s true struggle is not against the veil, but for freedom of movement – the ability to choose where to go.
In conferring the award on Kamran Talattof’s Modernity, Sexuality, and Ideology in Iran, the committee noted with appreciation the originality of the treatment of the theme of sexuality and its role in shaping, promoting, or hindering modernity in Iran. By focusing mainly on the life of one woman, Talattof creates a lively and thought provoking discussion of certain major political, social and cultural trends in modern Iran through finding the intersections between Shahrzad’s personal and public life and placing it within modern Iran’s past and present, its elite and popular cultures, thereby illuminating the central role played by what Talattof calls the tension between “Iranian modernity and traditional sexuality” in defining Iranian society.