By MARIA KANSO, News Editor
Professors Mehdi Bozorgmehr of City University of New York and Mohsen Mobasher of the University of Houston-Downtown gave lectures at the University of Michigan-Dearborn on Tuesday, Oct. 25.
Sociology professor and cofounder of the Middle East and Middle Eastern American Center at the City University of New York, Bozorgmehr has researched about the Iranian community since the 1980s.
“The Persian Paradox: Language Use and Preference among Iranian Americans” in the International Journal of the Sociology of Language (2016) is the most recent of his publications about Iranian Americans.
Bozorgmehr explained that the census reports 500,000 Iranians in the United States, with half concentrated in California and half in Los Angeles.
He described the Iranian community as a highly selective population because Iranians that came here were either former students or elite exiles after the revolution.
Most foreign and native-born Iranians in America have a college degree, including surgeons, physicians and lawyers.
Despite their high levels of education, linguistic assimilation among Iranian Americans is not as high as expected.
“One of the key features of Iranians is that given this very very high socioeconomic status, this very quick sort of mobility, the expectation for them would be to assimilate quickly,” Bozorgmehr said. “But for a variety of reasons, Iranians resist assimilation.”
The resistance to assimilation include their status as exiles and religious minorities in their homeland, as Bozorgmehr claims.
Mobasher is a sociology and anthropology associate professor and has been conducting research on American Iranians since 1993.
His most recent book is Iranians in Texas: Migration, Politics, and Ethnic Identity, in which he researched and interviewed Iranians in America between the years 1994 and 1995 and 2004 till 2005.
During his presentation at UM-Dearborn, Mobasher stressed the fact that Iranians are unhappy in America, despite their levels of education and success.
“I came to this realization that Iranians were kind of traumatized, both here and in Iran,” Mobasher said. “When I interviewed Iranians, almost without exception, every one of them remembered what happened to them after the hostage crisis.”
The relationship between the United States and Iran became more negative after the Islamic Revolution of 1979 and the Hostage Crisis.
The media attitude in the U.S. towards Iran after the Hostage Crisis became more hostile, according to Mobasher, which lead to increased dissatisfaction among Iranians,
“The said, ‘Do you want to know why I’m so unhappy in this country? Do you know why I feel detached? Because I was a victim of political tension and animosity between the two governments that I had nothing to do with.” Mobasher said.