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Afghan and Iranian experts assemble for October conference


  • August 19, 2009

An author, a radio and television personality, and the head of a Middle East Studies Center will be among the contributors to the three-day Global Knowledge Conference on Afghan and Iranian Diaspora Cultures and Communities in the Bay Area, Oct. 22-24, on the Hayward Campus of California State University, East Bay, 25800 Carlos Bee Blvd. They are among many contributors scheduled to take part in the conference that will shed light on Afghan and Iranian diaspora 30 years after the Iranian Revolution and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

The author is Fatemeh Keshavarz, who wrote the book, "Jasmine and Stars: Reading More Than 'Lolita' in Tehran;" which was recently discussed on National Public Radio. She will be joined at the conference by Farid Younos, host of a Noor television program and a Cal State East Bay lecturer, and Alam Payind, director of the Middle East Studies Center at Ohio State University.

Other key conference participants will be Rona Popal, executive director of the Afghan Coalition; Parvin Ahmadi, assistant superintendent of the Fremont Unified School District; Nushi Safinya, director of Studies for International and Multilingual Students at St. Mary's College; and Vida Samiian, dean of Fresno State University's College of Arts and Humanities.

The conference will lead off with a reception, art exhibition, short documentary and discussion from 5-7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 22 in the Biella Room of Cal State East Bay's University Library. Yuko Kurahashi of the School of Theatre and Dance at Kent State University will present her short documentary on the making of "Beyond the Mirror," a theatrical performance by the Bond Street Theatre of New York and the Emile Theatre of Kabul. A discussion will follow.

Pre-registration is being accepted on a space available basis through Oct. 15. Persons wishing to register must send their name, address, phone number, e-mail address and a check for $35 per person, payable to CSUEB CLASS, to: Global Knowledge Conference, CLASS, MB1501, CSUEB, 25800 Carlos Bee Blvd., Hayward, CA 94542. Registration at the door will be $50 per person if space is available.

The conference opening plenary at 3 p.m. Oct. 23 in room 1055 of the CSUEB Music Building will bring together Younos and Safinya to discuss "Framing the Afghan and Iranian Diasporas." That discussion will be moderated by Diedre Badejo, dean of the CSUEB's College of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences.

Poet Najia Karim, wife of CSUEB President Mohammad Qayoumi, will set the stage for that evening's dinner and a short Iranian dance performance by reading a selection of Afghan poems. Later President Qayoumi will introduce Payind's keynote address.

The conference will resume Saturday, Oct. 24 with the plenary, "1979: 30 Years Hence." It will be followed by two parallel sessions on "Community Research in the Local Afghan Diaspora" and "Social Activism in Iranian Diaspora." Personal and immigration narratives will be presented by Dr. Abubakr Asadulla, a physician in the CSUEB Student Health Center, and Sahar Haghighat, a CSUEB graduate student. Then a roundtable discussion on "New Directions in Afghan and Iranian Scholarship" will be presented, followed by the closing plenary.

The conference is cosponsored by the Afghan Coalition, the Fresno State University College of Arts and Humanities, Zale Video and Film, and the Balkh Bakery and Deli in Fremont.

The three-day conference culminates a year-long focus on the nations of Afghanistan and Iran – as they mark the 30th anniversary of the Iranian Revolution and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The year's events included a variety of programs and presentations held in various Bay Area locations in concert with a consortium comprised of the San Francisco Asian Art Museum; the University of California, Berkeley; and San Jose State University.

Additional conference information is available at:

CSUEB welcomes persons with disabilities and will provide reasonable accommodation upon request. If special accomodation is needed, attendees should notify the event sponsor a minimum of two weeks in advance at (510) 885-3183.

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