Norouz: A New Year for Peace
After the U.S. government assassinated Qassem Soleimani in January of 2020, Zoya designed a multi-phase mixed methods research program to learn how to best advocate for diplomacy with the Iranian government. Within two months they authored a multiphase series of interventions, performances, and parties, entitled: Norooz 1399, A New Year for Peace.. The event coincided with the Iranian New Year, 2020 and was almost carried out until the outbreak of COVID-19.
Norouz Party, a New Year for Peace is a multiphase socially engaged performance program that creates common ground for advocating for diplomacy with the Iranian government. During a time when a potential invasion on Iran is increasing it is vital that we take an antiwar stance through private citizen diplomacy to challenge stereotypes created by propaganda from dominant media outlets.
Norouz Party, a New Day for Peace is in three phases. The first phase will use durational, live performance as a public intervention. During the public interventions a person will sit at a table near the performing area with a banner titled, Ask an Iranian American. A group of Iranian Americans will take turns sitting at the table to engage in dialogue with people who are interested in learning about US Iran relations, how to engage in civic action advocating diplomacy with the Iranian government or anything related to contemporary Iranian history. Phase one will provide an opportunity for people to ask questions and brainstorm possible solutions to achieving diplomacy in a safe and inclusive space. Participants will not be judged for their modes of expression. All forms of expression will be welcome even if it is not harmonious with the values of the ‘Iran expert’. Ask an Iranian American will include a survey that has quantitative and qualitative components for group structures initiated during phase two and three. The data will also support an Op-ed to be published in a cultural commentary magazine.
The Norouz Party (phase two) is a party with directives. Participants will be invited to learn about rituals connected to Norouz (a celebration of nature, love and renewal) through objects on a traditional table setting called, Haft Seen. This form of cultural exhibition will also call attention to the economic devastation that sanctions create for Iranian citizens. Participants will be invited to enjoy a traditional Norouz dinner. A DJ will play music to encourage participation in a group structure that involves learning Iranian dance moves. Moving as a group will transition to a collaborative format that will be devised from the data generated in phase one. This group structure will be documented through autoethnographic methods, so the traces of the participants’ experience of Iranian culture will be connected to their own. Each participant will be invited to collaborate on phase three, Formulations of Assembly, Workshop-as-Event.
Phase three, Formulations of Assembly, Workshop-as-Event, is an innovative approach to cultural exchange to promote peace engagement inclusive of marginalized and diaspora communities. The research fuses track four, track five and track nine in multi-track diplomacy to initiate opportunities where strangers can act together to form assembly that creates socio-political intimacy required for deomcratic social change. It integrates social theory, conflict transformation and socially engaged performance to activate demonstrations, achieving collaborative, practice-based problem solving which is new in the way we communicate, exchange, and reflect on violence that emerges from war, sanctions and border control. Integrating methodologies from track four (private citizen), track five (research) and track nine (the media and public opinion) diplomacy activate forms of social mobilization fostering a shift the ways public demonstrations in the United States are performed, so the results offer tools that embolden people to take time to advocate for peace in daily life.