Rasmus Christian Elling
Rasmus Christian Elling (PhD, Associate Professor), University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

Everyone should know about Abadan

Rasmus Christian Elling (PhD, Associate Professor),

University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

Feb 25, 2015

Abadan, Iran is special. Across the world, thousands cherish memories of life in what was once a cosmopolitan beacon of modernity in the Middle East, longing for the places, spaces and faces of the city. And yet, Abadan is today a city largely forgotten by the world.

Let us reintroduce Abadan to the world by documenting its fascinating history; bringing its past to life through pictures, essays, videos and art; letting scholars share their knowledge; and letting everyone share their memories and experiences.

Let Abadan be retold so that future generations can draw from the lessons of the city, understand the historical processes it embodies and envision a peaceful future where Abadanis, whether Iranian or non-Iranian, whether in Abadan or abroad, can come together and recreate the magic of the oil city for all to experience and learn from.

Abadan:Retold is an innovative, multi-media social history project invented and managed by me, Rasmus Christian Elling (PhD). I am a Professor of Iranian Studies at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, fluent in Persian and have lived in Iran. As a scholar of modern Iran and urban studies, I came across Abadan through my research in 2011, and since, I have explored the city’s history through oil company and state archives, newspapers, diplomatic reports, novels and biographies, as well as through fieldwork and interviews in Abadan. To understand why I am so fascinated by Abadan, please read my essays here.

A crucial part of the Abadan Retold project is an online portal (www.abadan.wiki) with multiple functions:

The AbadanMap: a multi-layered interactive map based on GIS data, human data and historical information, drawing on a broad range of maps from open sources and from historical archives;

Encyclopaedia Abadanica: an archive of research-based articles by excellent scholars on all aspects of Abadan’s history, from ancient times to present-day, as well as on Abadani popular culture;

MemoryLine: a user-driven history wiki – an open platform on which everyone can share memories and knowledge through comments, essays, interviews and pictures, and where you can discover new faces or re-connect with old friends.

Abadan:Retold is part of a larger research project on documenting the history of Abadan in a global context, for which I have already received a grant of 13,000 USD from the Danish Arthur Christensen Foundation.

I am handpicking a team of excellent scholars around the world to conduct research and write articles; a geographer and a GIS expert to create the maps; a web designer to create a well-functioning portal; and artists to make beautiful pieces of collage art that can bring Abadan to life. My plan is that the framework we develop for Abadan:Retold be made available open source to the public so that other cities can use it too.

UPDATE: The March 2015 crowdfunding campaign has ended. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR ALL THE SUPPORT.

We managed to raise almost 3,000 USD. Now, I will use those funds – and those raised earlier – to kickstart the project while I continue to search for other funding bodies.

In the meantime, please contact me if you want to contribute with pictures, memorabilia, documents, maps – anything that can help is  let Abadan be retold. If you know of interesting people to be interviewed for the oral history component of the project, please let me know.

Many thanks and all the best,

Rasmus Christian Elling (PhD, Associate Professor),

University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

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