This article looks to two songs, “Layla Said” and “Mammad, You Weren't There to See,” to examine the politics of representation, race, religion, and nationalism in late twentieth-century Iran. “Layla Said,” a religious eulogy sung by Jahanbakhsh Kurdizadeh, would serve as inspiration for the most popular song of the Iran-Iraq War (1980–88) in terms of melody, rhythm, and lyrics. Kurdizadeh, a visibly Black Iranian, is not popularly remembered as the source of the eulogy, an omission that compounds many of the politics of Black representation in Iran. Through an investigation of film, aural recordings, photographs, and more, this article follows the many mutations of the eulogy-turned-anthem to identify the various ways ethnography and documentary works frame blackness in Iran. Kurdizadeh's life and marginalized legacy highlights the tacit erasure of blackness on the national stage in Iran.

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