Being Written While Writing: Crafting Selves in the Persian Blogosphere

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Being Written While Writing: Crafting Selves in the Persian Blogosphere

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This dissertation examines how people change in the process of creating through the prism of a particular creative site of material production—the Persian blogosphere. In Iran, blogging is a popular means for producing self-centering narratives—i.e., written accounts centering around one’s lived experience—, making Persian one of the top 10 blogging languages. As it deploys ethnographic research to explore blogging, a medium enabled by the coming together of technology, language, and people, this project questions the received ideas of what media do. The findings of this research challenge conventional ideas of media that center on symbolic representation instead of material creation. This ethnography explores the intervening processes, material techniques, unintentional creations, and creative accidents that go into the making of blogposts and bloggers’ inner selves. This study also shows that local traditions and understandings inform writing practices in the Persian blogosphere. As it uncovers the processes through which people gain new understandings of the world, this ethnography examines not only the uniquely Iranian qualities or uses of the Internet, but also how singularities in this specific field of cultural forces led to the birth of these qualities and functions. This research, moreover, explores how writing blogs helps Iranian become autonomous subjects, which in turn changes the dynamics of power at a micro level. This project is not, however, either another anthropocentric account of self-fashioning of an autonomous subject acting as the sole source of its own authority, nor a representational study of the subject’s narrative. As it takes its scrutiny beyond the realm of meaning, narratives, and stories, where the already-constituted individual has an ontological privilege, this research shows that the seemingly autonomous selves, in their self-fashioning projects, depend upon the materiality of the technology and that of written words. Although ultimately about identities crafted online, this ethnography therefore underlines an understanding of fashioning selves that concerns itself with the negotiation of alterities rather than the formation of identities. In its contributions to the anthropology of the self, media, technology, and writing, this research shows that identities crafted through media are made possible because of those alterities.


University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. May 2018. Major: Anthropology. Advisor: Wiliam Beeman. 1 computer file (PDF); ix, 316 pages.

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Shiva, Amirpouyan. (2018). Being Written While Writing: Crafting Selves in the Persian Blogosphere. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

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