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Chapter 3 showcases a case study that links the lives of dying eunuchs at the royal court to the rise of minstrelsy performances within a generation. Naser ed-Din Shah (r. 1848–96) began to memorialize court eunuchs through photography and memoirs, most of whom were of African ancestry who were among the last generations of eunuchs in Iran. Photographing the eunuchs at such a critical period captured a different face of Iran, as the aging eunuchs were frail and delicate. These photographs served as a complicated site for preserving the memory and agency of eunuchs, as some eunuchs were also trained as photographers. At Mozaffar ed-Din Shah’s (r. 1896–1906) court, the photographs became fodder for court jesters, and blackface minstrelsy took on a very specific form. This chapter highlights the direct connection between enslavement and its legacy of blackface in Iran.

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