Associate Professor of Islamic Theology and Political Science, Imam Sadiqh University


The Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) television channels, with the largest audience across the country, plays a prominent role in cultivating people’s perceptions about ethnic groups and in defining intergroup relations in the country. Evidence from previous research indicates that there is notable dissatisfaction on the part of ethnic groups about images broadcasted of them on the television. To gain a deeper understanding of the perceptions of ethnic minorities themselves, a number of semi-structured interviews were conducted among an educated segment of minority groups currently residing in Tehran. As expected, they do not approve of the representations that are made of them in the television series and films. They are critical of the national networks on the grounds that ethnicities are generally neglected on the national television and, when they are indeed shown, they are often misrepresented. They also identify various kinds of stereotypical images that are often portrayed of various ethnic groups based on traits attributed to them in popular discourse. Most of those interviewed believed that films shown on the television hardly present members of ethnic groups as central characters and tend to cast them in marginal roles. The prevalence of such representations, according to the interviewees, stems from film producers’ lack of knowledge about ethnic subcultures and/or their prejudiced attitudes towards them. It may also reflect continuation of past practices that tend to downplay the ethnic groups’ presence in and contribution to the national culture.


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