The Basis of Iran's Civic Identity; Afro-Iranians' Social Identity in Iran

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Assistant Professor at University of Tehran

2 Master Degree from Faculty of World Studies, University of Tehran


The presence of Africans in Iran (especially in southern provinces of Iran) goes back to more than two centuries ago when for the first time as a slave from some Persian Gulf Arabic countries such as Oman brought to Iran. In these centuries, their social identity formation process (as forging slaves and later on as immigrants and citizens) has been subject to some challenges and faced with many ups and downs. More specifically, their social identity formation and transformation can be categorized to three phases; slave, free and Iranian. Despite these ups and downs, their identity transformation, specifically in today Iran, has been less studied. This paper, drawing on 46 semi-structured interviews with Afro-Iranians in 4 rural and urban areas in southern Iran, explores different meanings and variations of their ‘Iranian’ identity focusing on the importance of nationality and ethnicity in their social identity negotiation. This paper suggests that ‘Iranian’ national identity in the opinion of Afro-Iranians is more based on the civic basis rather than racial or ethnic markers which make almost all participants to feel and prefer to belong to Iranian national identity.


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