In the last decade Iranian Americans have increasingly taken to the same streets and fair-grounds as Irish, German, and Puerto Rican American communities before them to hold ethnic parades and festivals to assert their cultural and ethnic identity to an American public often hostile to Middle Eastern immigrants. Through interviews and visual analysis of the New York Persian Day Parade, one of more than 180 annual ethnic parades in Manhattan, I track, analyze, and compare the use of space, signs, and performance to argue that Iranian American public events such as the parade offer productive case studies of diasporic reappropriations of local genres used to present selective views of homeland and diaspora to diverse audiences. Furthermore, these public diaspora events do as much to continuously negotiate Iranian diaspora identity across generations as they do to represent Iran to non-Iranian spectators. In this study, I utilize methods from visual anthropology to examine parade and festival events through use of photography and video while also assessing production and reception to evaluate the ways in which visual representations in public performances can lead to and themselves reveal contested visions of diasporic identities.

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