No Enclave — Iranian Los Angeles


Nowruz took place last week on a blustery Sunday. Nowruz is the New Year of Zoroastrians and in Iran as well as much of Central and West Asia. It’s often, in fact, referred to as Persian New Year. A bit ago, someone bemoaned that I hadn’t written a No Enclave about Iranians or Persians. I helpfully suggested to this unhelpful complainer that if they became a Patreon supporter — at any level — I’d write about whatever ethnicity they wished. I’m but one person who tries to write a heavily-researched piece each and every week. It requires quite a lot of time, effort, and wine to numb the pain in my eyes and fingers. I’ve so, far, written 46 such No Enclave posts. Apparently, whilst they were so dismayed that they were compelled to leave a complaint signed “Disappointed Reader,” they weren’t bothered enough to toss a couple of bucks into the Patreon pot. To any reader who’s not “Disappointed Reader,” enjoy this piece, and if you become a patron, we can chat about topics you’d like to see me cover.


The flag was adopted on 29 July 1980

Archaeological evidence suggests that what’s now Greater Iran has been inhabited by Homo sapiens since at least 10000 BCE. The region hosted numerous civilizations including the Sumerians, Assyrians, and Elamites. Around 2000 BCE, Iranians began to migrate from the Pontic–Caspian Steppe into and across Greater Iran. The First Persian Empire, or Achaemenid Empire, was founded by Cyrus the Great in 550 BCE. Cyrus invaded Babylon and freed the Jews there, many of whom then settled in Persia. Arabs invaded in the 7th century CE, imposing Islam and persecuting Zoroastrians. The Arabs brought with them many Turkic mamluks, further diversifying the region’s already diverse demography. The Islamic Golden Age flourished in the 10th and 11th centuries. Between 1219 to 1221, the army of Genghis Khan invaded the Iranian Plateau.

In 1789, the Sublime State of Iran (also known as the Qajar Empire) was founded. The first Iranian constitution and the national parliament of Iran were both founded in 1906. It officially recognized the rights of Muslims, Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians. In 1951, a secular democrat, Mohammad Mosaddegh, was appointed as the Prime Minister of Iran. After Mosaddegh nationalized Iran’s petroleum industry and oil reserves, MI6 and the CIA overthrew him in a 1953 coup. Mossadegh was afterward sentenced to three years’ solitary confinement in a military prison.

After the prime minister was deposed, Shah Reza Pahlavi returned from exile and cozied up to the US and UK. He maintained a grip over Iran with the help of his secret police force, SAVAK. In 1978, activists began organizing strikes and demonstrations against the Shah. In 1979, the Shah fled to the United States, and the radical Muslim cleric Ruhollah Khomeini returned from exile. In April 1979, Iran was officially made an Islamic Republic. Uprisings by marginalized Arabs and Kurds were violently crushed. Tens of thousands of Marxists, Leftists, and Nationalists who’d participated in the revolution were executed. A fatwa was placed on prominent Baháʼí clergy. On 4 November 1979, a group of Muslim students seized the United States Embassy and took 52 people hostage. On 22 September 1980, with the active support of the US, the Iraqi army under Saddam Hussein invaded Iran, which launched the Iran–Iraq War. At the same time, the Reagan administration secretly facilitated the sale of arms to Iran in order to fund right-wing death squads in Nicaragua. A truce between Iran and Iraq was mediated by the UN in 1988. There have massive protests in favor of democracy in 2009, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020 but the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) ranks Iran at #154 out of 167 countries on its Democracy Index.


There have been Iranians in the US throughout its history. In 1618, when it was still a British colony, a tobacco merchant named Martin the Armenian settled in Jamestown, Virginia. Mirza Mohammad Ali, also known as Hajj Sayyah, became the first Iranian to acquire US citizenship, which he did in 1875. Prior to 1977, most Iranians came to the US to study in universities and by 1961, the US was the primary destination in the world for international students from Iran. The revolution and war against Iraq impelled large numbers of Iranians to flee. From 1980 and 1990, the number of foreign-born Iranians in the United States increased by 74%. The third wave of Iranian immigration began around 1995.

Although they are closely related and often used interchangeably, “Persian” and “Iranian” are not synonyms. Persia derives from Parsa, the name of the Indo-European nomads who migrated into Persis (now southern Iran) around 1000 BCE. Iran (from the 3rd-century Sasanian Middle Persian “ērān”) means “Land of the Aryans.” Persians are an ethnicity. And although they comprise the majority of people in the Islamic Republic of Iran, they are just one of many ethnicities who live there. Iran is a multi-ethnic state where Persians make up about 65% of Iran’s population. Other ethnicities include Azerbaijanis, Kurds, Lurs, Arabs, Baloch, Turkmens, Qashqai, Armenians, Georgians, Assyrians, Circassians, Basseri, and others. Neither are Persians only native to Iran, although that is where most live, there are also substantial longstanding populations of Persians in Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Russia, and Azerbaijan. There are also about 70,000 Parsis — descendants of Zoroastrians from Sassanid Iran — who migrated to the Indian subcontinent in the face of its conquest by Arab Muslims in the 7th Century CE.

The majority of Iranian Americans are Persian. There are, however, substantial numbers of Iranian Azerbaijanis, Armenians, Kurds, Assyrians, Mandaeans, Turkmen, Baloch, Arabs, and Jews living in the US. Iran, after the revolution, was a toxic word in the US, and thus, many Iranian Americans, regardless of their ethnicity, refer to themselves as Persians. Estimates of how many Iranian Americans there are vary widely in part because many are reluctant to identify themselves as such in the census. According to the US Census Bureau, there are more than 577,000 individuals who were either born in Iran or reported Iranian ancestry. Most estimates fall somewhere between the official census number and a much higher figure of two million. Somewhere between 40 and 50 percent of all Iranian Americans live in California. Metro Los Angeles is home to the largest Iranian community in the world outside of Iran.


Although the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran officially recognizes Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism as religions, ethnic and religious minorities were since the founding of the republic targeted with widespread persecution. Additionally, senior government posts are reserved for Muslims (even Sunni Muslims are barred from the presidency). Religious schools — regardless of their religious affiliation, must have Muslim principals. As a result, Baháʼís, Jews, Christian, Mandeans, Sufis, and Zoroastrians are disproportionately represented in the Iranian diaspora. Prior to the revolution, there were about 80,000 Jews in Iran. Today there are about 9,000. According to an Iranian poll, 99.98% of Iranians practice Islam. A widely cited online poll, however, found that 40.4% of Iranians adhere to Islam and that the numbers of agnostics, atheists, secular humanists are much more numerous than official accounts acknowledge. There are, in Metro Los Angeles, Iranian synagogues, mosques, churches, and Baha’i temples. In Los Angeles, Persian Jews comprise the plurality of Iranians on the Westside. Muslims comprise the plurality of Iranians in Rancho Palos Verdes and Irvine. Irvine is home to the largest community of Iranian Americans in Orange County, with a population of roughly 11,000. In Orange County, there are several Zoroastrian fire temples.


Farsi ( فارسی), or Persian, is the official language of Iran, is spoken as the first language by about 53% of the population.
Farsi is the eighth most-spoken language in Los Angeles and is the primary language of roughly 70,000 Angelenos. Farsi is written in both the Persian alphabet (a derivation of Arabic script) and the Tajik alphabet (a derivation of Cyrillic). One of the region’s only bookstores with a large selection of books in Farsi is Ketabsara Persian Bookstore. Nearby, in the West Los Angeles Civic Center, the West LA Library Farsi Reading Club convenes at the West Lost Angeles Regional Branch Library. The Anar Center, in Westwood, founded by Shiva Danesh and Nushin Sabet in 2017, is a language and culture center that offers Farsi lessons.


In 1986, freelance food writer Max Jacobson noted in the Los Angeles Times article, “Gustatory Delights in Los Angeles,” that a “section of Westwood has been dubbed ‘Tehrangeles’ by its Iranian denizens.” 26 years later, Adrian Glick Kudler (then the editor at Curbed LA who would go on to win a Distinguished Digital Journalist award in 2016) wrote an article titled “Google Decides There’s an LA Neighborhood Called Tehrangeles,” in which she confidently but wrongly claimed that “[Tehrangeles] has never really referred to a specific location before.” It was not a secret to most Angelenos, however. I made a map of it around 2009. And in 2015, a map with the exact same borders and color appeared in the Jonathan Gold documentary, City of Gold. It does remain, despite its widespread recognition, unofficially recognized by the City of Los Angeles and the LADOT has thus far not installed its familiar blue neighborhood signs. All it takes, however, is 500 signatures to get one.


There is, within Tehrangeles, an intersection designated Persian Square. Car-crazed councilman Paul Koretz (who killed Uplift Melrose) sponsored a motion to recognize it as such in 2010. It is not, however, a square in any sense at all — meaningful or otherwise. A “square,” in the civic sense, is a planned public space that usually hosts various public events. Think Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, Moscow’s Red Square, Cairo’s Tahrir Square, Berlin’s Alexanderplatz, Seoul‘s Gwanghwamun Plaza, Taipei‘s Memorial Hall Square, or our own Pershing Square. Persian Square is not such a square. It’s not even square shaped. Instead, Persian Square is a rectangular neighborhood traversed by ten lanes of traffic with a tiny beige sign hung above it. The city insists, however, on making these hollow gestures instead of doing anything meaningfully beneficial, like creating an actual car-free square where humans can gather and enjoy a bit of respite from the automobile

The Tehrangeles Pedestrian Promenade (Westwood Boulevard in red, service alleys in yellow, Tehrangeles in lavender)

Imagine closing Westwood Boulevard between Ashton Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard to cars. That stretch of Westwood is lined by service alleys on both sides, which would allow commercial vehicles access to the businesses along it and the bulk of Tehrangeles’s main street could be transformed into a lively pedestrian promenade along the lines of Panorama City‘s Plaza Del Valle; Santa Monica‘s 3rd Street Promenade; Beverly Hills‘s Two Rodeo; Silver Lake‘s Sunset Triangle Plaza; Pacoima‘s Bradley Plaza Green Alley; Hollywood‘s EaCa Pedestrian Alley; Whittier‘s Greenleaf Promenade; El Pueblo‘s Olvera Street; Little Tokyo‘s Japanese Village Plaza and Astronaut Ellison S Onizuka Street; The Produce District‘s Dock Street; The Fashion District‘s Santee Alley; and Chinatown‘s Chung King Court, Chung King Road, Gin Ling Way, Jung Jing Road, Lei Min Way, Mei Lin Way, and Sun Mun Way.


When the ayatollahs took over Iran, they placed numerous restrictions on music. It was banned completely in 1979 but its legal and social status would change in the years that followed. Female vocalists, though, are only allowed to perform solo for all-female audiences, otherwise they must perform as part of a chorus. Not surprisingly, many Iranian musicians simply left rather than try to pursue their arts in such a restrictive environment. An overseas Iranian music industry has long flourished in Los Angeles that includes both foreign-born Iranian musicians and Iranian musicians born in the US. Perhaps the most accessible outlet for Iranian music is Radio Iran — KIRN AM 670 — which made its debut on 13 August 1999.

Farzaneh Hemmasi wrote a book about the local Iranian music scene, titled Tehrangeles Dreaming: Intimacy and Imagination in Southern California’s Iranian Pop Music. GJ Breyley and Sasan Fatemi wrote Iranian Music and Popular Entertainment: From Motrebi to Losanjelesi and Beyond. Organizations fostering the local Iranian music scene include the Persian Arts Society and an Instagram page, seemingly named both SoCal Iranian Musicians and LA Iranian Musicians. Iranian Angeleno musicians and ensembles include Alexander Meimand, Ali Elohim, Andy Madadian, Anoushiravan Rohani, Aref Arefkia, Axiom of Choice, Azam Ali of Roseland and Vas, Disco Shrine, DJ Pooya, DJ Taraneh, Hassan Shamaizadeh, Jasmin Toubi of My Band, Javad Maroufi, Kayhann of Fade Music, Maral, Niyaz, Pedrum Siadatian of the Allah-Las, Samir, Shahram Homayoun, Shahrdad Rohani, Shoh Re, Yousef Bassirpour of Big Blind, Waves Orchestra Persian and International Live Music Band, and Ziba Shirazi. Recorded Iranian music and movies can be purchased at Music Box in Tehrangeles.

Although most artists of the overseas Iranian community aren’t well-known outside of the Iranian diaspora, there’s a significant cult following amongst non-Iranians (and Iranians) for Iranian music pop, psychedelia, and funk from the rock music era. The 2000 documentary Googoosh – Iran’s Daughter, by Farhad Zamani, introduced the musical icon to many non-Iranians. Mahssa Taghinia, DJ and owner of Mount Analog in Highland Park, curated, with Arash Saedinia, Pomegranate, a compilation of various artists, including Googoosh, Soli, Zia, and others in early 2010. Popular compilations of Iranian popular music from the decades leading up to the revolution include The Golden Ring – Iranian Styled 60’s Garage & Other Exotic Sounds: Complete Recordings (2009), Rangarang – Pre-Revolutionary Iranian Pop (2009), Persian Underground – Garage Rock, Beat And Psychedelic Sounds From The Iranian 60’s & 70’s Scene (2010), Kourosh Yaghmaei – Back From The Brink (Pre-Revolution Psychedelic Rock From Iran: 1973-1979) (2010), Khana Khana (Funk, Psychedelia And Pop From The Iranian Pre-Revolution Generation) (2012), and Sedayeh Del (Funk, Psychedelia And Pop From The Iranian Pre-Revolution Generation) (2013).


The first Iranian filmmaker was Mirza Ebrahim Khan Akkas Bashi, who in 1900 filmed the Shah’s visit to Europe. Narrative film arrived much later, with Ovanes Ohanian‘s Abi and Rabi, in 1930. Iranian commercial cinema, mainly composed of melodramas and thrillers, began to flourish in the 1960s. 1969’s Kaiser and The Cow, directed by Masoud Kimiai and Darius Mehrjui respectively, began to garner international critical acclaim for Iranian art cinema, ushering in the Iranian New Wave. The first Iranian film I saw was Majid Majid‘s The Color of Paradise (نگ خدا). I found it incredibly moving and it led me to the films of Mehrjui, Tahmineh Milāni, Babak Payami, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Jafar Panahi, and Abbas Kiarostami. In Westwood, the University of California, Los Angeles and the Farhang Foundation have organized the UCLA Celebration of Iranian Cinema every year since 1990. The University of California, Irvine hosts an annual Iranian Cinema series, Celebration of Iranian Cinema. Siamak Ghahremani and Anthony Azizi‘s Noor Iranian Film Festival took place at various venues from 2007 to 2013 (with the exception of 2010). Hamid Naficy, a prominent scholar of Iranian Cinema, attended both USC and UCLA, and has written several volumes of his series, A Social History of Iranian Cinema.

In Los Angeles, there have been a few Iranian American-related films, mostly comedies, including Jimmy Vestvood: Amerikan Hero (written by Maz Jobrani and Amir Ohebsion) and Ramin Niami‘s Shirin in Love. Kamshad Kooshan‘s Surviving Paradise was about two Iranian refugees in Los Angeles. Iranian Angeleno filmmakers include Farbod Ardebili and Shayan Ebrahim. Iranian Angeleno actors included Andre Khabbazi, Arsi Nami, Catherine Bell, Dan Ahdoot, Jon Jafari, Jonathan Ahdout, Max Amini, Moz Jobrani, Mozhan Marnò, Nadia Bjorlin, Nazanin Nour, Sarah Shahi, Shiva Rose, Tehran Von Ghasri, and Yara Shahidi.


In the 1980s, KSCI began to show a considerable about of Iranian programming. The aforementioned Hamid Naficy wrote The Making of Exile Cultures: Iranian Television in Los Angeles, published in 1993. The first was IRTV, launched by Ali Limonadi on 15 March 1981. It was followed by Parviz Sayyad‘s Parsian TV. Manuchehr Bibian (also known as Manouchehr Bibiyan) founded Jaam-e-Jam (جام جم) in the 1980s, which aired Iranian programming until it went off the air in 2017. Other programs from the era include Nadar Rafii‘s Midnight Show and Hamid Shabkhiz‘s Iran, Shohreh Aqdashlu‘s Sima va Nava-ye Iran TV; Parviz Kardan‘s Shahr-e Farang; and multiple series from Hushang Towzi. In 2013, Bravo launched Shahs of Sunset, in which a group of six Iranian American frenemies presumably do what people on reality shows do.


Iranian cuisine is, in my mind, one of the world’s major cuisines — one, in other words, that is complex, refined, and warrants distinction from the cuisines of its neighbors. For various reasons, though, in the US (or at least Los Angeles), it’s almost never marketed as Iranian and less often “Persian cuisine” than “Mediterranean,” despite the fact that at their nearest points Iran and the Mediterranean are separated by about 800 kilometers. It’s actually located on both the Caspian and Arabian seas. The Mediterranean, though, is suitably vague and carries none of the same cultural baggage of “Iranian” or “Middle Eastern.” Is there even such thing as Mediterranean cuisine and not dozens of Mediterranean cuisines? Although my experience with Iranian cuisine is limited, it doesn’t seem to me to have much in common with the popular Mediterranean cuisines of France, Italy, Morocco, Spain, or Tunisia. It does, on the other hand, have apparent similarities with the Mediterranean cuisines of Lebanon, Greece, and Turkey. It also shares similarities with the non-Mediterranean cuisines of Caucasia and Central Asia and has been influential on several South Asian cuisines.

Typical Iranian dishes incorporate a mix of fruit, meat, nuts, vegetables, herbs, and spices. Apricots, plums, pomegranates, prunes, quince, raisins, and other fruits are all common. Widely used spices include cinnamon, dried lime, parsley, saffron, and turmeric. The first place I ever had Iranian food, if memory serves correctly, was Shandiz Vanak. I’d read a little about Iranian food and, naturally, I was eager to try it. I don’t remember what I ordered but I think there were sour cherries and saffron rice (hold the meat). I loved the combination of flavors and next ate at a place in Thai Town. The waiter presented me with flatbread, butter, and a raw onion. I wasn’t sure what to do and there were no other customers to spy on. I asked the waiter what I was supposed to do with these items and he said to eat them if I liked them. I had sort of figured that but was still confused be. Later I went to a place in Westwood that felt more like a nightclub than a restaurant. I can’t remember the name. I started to get the sense that Iranian food was mainly for those who follow animal-based diets and thus, it’s been a long time since I’ve had it. However, if you know of any Iranian restaurants with at least two vegetarian or vegan entrees (or entrees that can be made that way), please let me know and I will happily patronize them.

There are probably too many Iranian restaurants to name — and non-Iranian places that serve Iranian dishes. I will add any and all to the map, however, so if you know of any that I’ve missed, please let me know. The first Iranian restaurant in Los Angeles, almost certainly, was Attari Sandwich Shop, which opened in 1978 and is still open today. In 1980, Mashti Shirvani took over a shuttered ice cream parlor, Mugsy Malone, give it an Iranian makeover and re-opened it as Mashti Malone’s. Sam Salout and a partner opened the first location of Darya, now a small local chain, in 1986. Los Angeles-based cook Naz Deravian wrote Bottom of the Pot: Persian Recipes and Stories, published in 2018.


Not long after I moved to Los Angeles, I felt that I should probably acquire some nice Persian rugs for the apartment. I worked at a record store in Pasadena back then and noticed that there were several stores selling Oriental rugs on and around Colorado Boulevard. Iran is part of the so-called “rug belt” that stretches from North Africa across Eurasia. The Iranian town of Kashan, is on UNESCO‘s Intangible Cultural Heritage List. Sadly for me, though, such rugs are decidedly out of my price range so I’ve thus settled for ones from Home Depot and Ikea. I’ve tried, at least, to determine which oriental rug stores are owned by Iranian Angelenos or deal, primarily, in Persian rugs and that knowledge, too, remains mostly beyond my grasp — so if you know of any not already included on the map, let me know in the comments and I’ll add them, too.


“The Lovers”, Riza‑yi ‘Abbasi, 1630, tempera, gold, and ink on paper

Iran’s art traditions extend beyond rug making to architecture, calligraphy, metalwork, painting, sculpture, and more. Petroglyphs in Iran have been dated to roughly 5000 BCE. In contrast to other Muslim countries, Iranian art historically was concentrated on depictions of humans and other animals. The Persian miniature tradition that flourished from the 1200s to the 1500s produced some of my favorite art. As with so many things, however, most representational art was banned by the religious authorities who’ve been in place for the last 43 years.

Iranian Angeleno artists include artist and writer Azin Mafi, jewelry designer Azita Mireshghi, visual artist Delbar Shahbaz, ceramics artist Farzan Sabet, graphic designer Kourosh Beigpour, photographer Labkhand Olfatmanesh, artist LvL Up Kid (Leila Youssefi), visual artist Nojan Rahimian, visual artist Sara Hassan Khani, and visual artist Tahmoores Alizadeh, There’s also a piece of public art in Century City, inspired by the Cyrus Cylinder (a Babylonian account of the conquest of Babylon by Cyrus in 539 BCE), known as The Freedom Sculpture.


There were jewelry stores in the area now known as the Jewelry District at least as early as 1932, by which time Laykin Diamond Company and Harry Winston & Co were in operation in the area. By the early 1950s, the area was known as The Jewelry District. One of the biggest features, St. Vincent Jewelry Center, is home to more than 500 independent jewelry merchants, many of home are Iranian Jews. The building was the location of Bullock’s Department Store from 1907 until 1983, at which point it re-opened as the jewelry center. Its owner, Peklar Pilavjian, came to Los Angeles in 1989. The National Gold & Diamond Center opened in 1986. Its president is Mayour Rabbanian Salim and it’s where I’ve bought all of my jewelry since coming to Los Angeles. I wonder if it was the inspiration for Tracy + the Plastics“At the Gold + Diamond Center.”

My favorite part about the Jewelry District isn’t the jewelry, though, it’s St. Vincent Court. St. Vincent Court is just the sort of kitschy simulacra that exemplifies authentic Los Angeles culture. It’s an alley that is located on what was once the campus of St. Vincent’s College. It was later a delivery alley for Bullock’s department store. In 1957, it was given a makeover in order to give it the appearance of a quaint European lane. The effect, though, like so many similar projects, reminds me of the Village from the 1960s television series, The Prisoner. Home to Armenian, Mexican, and Iranian cafes, bakeries, &c, it was one of the bafflingly small number of pre-COVID-19 places where alfresco dining was the norm in Los Angeles.


Of course, there are Iranian Angelenos involved in all sorts of creative fields and occupations including TikToker Kia Nalbandi, stylist and author Naz Meknat, art director Nikoo Nooryani, and tea specialist Sepideh Eivazi.


In addition to Radio Iran, other Iranian Angeleno media outlets include various newspapers and periodicals, including اخبار و اطلاعات هفته نامه ايرانىان ىهودىAkhbār Va Iṭṭilāʻāt : Haftahʹnāmah-I Īrāniyān-I Yahūdī (published in Tarzana since 1998), عصر امروز – ʻaṣr-I Imrūz (published in Encino since the 1980s), Bihtarīnhā (published in Reseda since 2002), همشهرى – Hamshahrī (published in Woodland Hills), امروز صبح ايران – Imrūz Ṣubḥ-I Īrān (published in Reseda), Īrānshahr – ايرانشهر (published in Van Nuys since 1996), and کاپ نىوز – Kāp Niyūz (published in Encino since 2015), and Mardum-I Afghānistān (published in Reseda since 1993). There are also locally produced Persian–related podcasts including Chaya and Persian Girl Podcast. In the past, there were more Iranian Angeleno newspapers, including Bāmdād, Haftahʹnam̄ah-I Matānā, صبح ايران – Imrūz ṣubḥ-i Īrān, Talāsh : Nashrīyah-I Haftagī, Pardis, and Payām-I Īrān.

Other Farsi publications published from within Metro Los Angeles, including Aroos Magazine, Asre Emrooz, Chashmandaz, Chiz Magazine, Dakeeh, Donyay-e Yahood, Ferdosi Emrooz Magazine, Hafteh Bazar, Hamsayegan, Honarmand, Iran Gohar, Iran Sima, Iranshahr Weekly, Jahan Pezeshki, Jaam-va-Jaan Journal, Journal-e Pezeshki, Javanan Magazine, Khandaniha, Khorsheed, Korosh Bozorg, Matana & Tofigh, Mehre Gyiah, Metro Monthly, Narangestan, Negah International Magazine, Negin, Payam Ashena, Payk Bartar, Persian Book Review, Rahavard Persian Journal, Rah-e-Zendegi, Ryan Magazine, Seeb Magazine, Simorgh Monthly Magazine, Sobh Iran, Tanz Magazine, and Tehran Magazine.


Organizations serving the Iranian Angeleno community include Chabad Persian Youth Center, Iranian American Jewish Federation, Iranian-American Muslim Association of America, Iranian Christian Church of Los Angeles, Iranian Jewish Senior Center, Iranian Psychological Association of America, Iranian-Persian American Association of Greater Long Beach, Middle East Matters Organization, Orange County Iranian American Chamber of Commerce, Palos Verdes Iranian Children and Youth Cultural Society, Pars Equality Center, Persian Academic and Cultural Student Association, Persian American Civic Action Network, Persian American Networking Development, SoCal Persian American Medical Association, Society of Iranian Psychiatrists in North America, and South Bay Persian Heritage Foundation – Khaneh Iran.


  • An Exploratory Study of Iranian Jewish Immigrants in Los Angeles by Deborah Karen Mego (1980)
  • The Immigration and Adjustment of Iranian Jewish Women in Los Angeles by Pamela Joy Sherwood (1983)
  • Family and Community Among Iranian Jews in Los Angeles by L. E. Collins, Melissa Glazer, Cara Kates, and Jilla Lavian (1986)
  • Acculturation and Assimilation of Iranian Jews in Los Angeles: a Quantitative Study by Hilda Balakhane, David S. Cohen, David Pine (1988)
  • Iranian Immigrant Women in Los Angeles: The Reconstruction of Work, Ethnicity, and Community by Arlene Dallalfar (1989)
  • A Model of Transition: The Iranian Jewish Community of Los Angeles by Ellen Lebowitz (1990)
  • Irangeles: Iranians in Los Angeles by Ron Kelley, ‎Jonathan Friedlander, ‎and Anita Colby (1993)
  • Urban Transformation: The Case of Iranians in Los Angeles by Marjan Ladjevardi (1998)
  • Mass Mediations: New Approaches to Popular Culture in the Middle East and Beyond, edited by Walter Armbrust (2000)
  • Ways to Survive, Battles to WinIranian Women Exiles in the Netherlands and United States by Halleh Ghorashi (2002)
  • Socialization to Khoshnivisi “elegant Writing” in an Iranian American Community in Los Angeles by Amir Sharifi (2006)
  • Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America by Firoozeh Dumas (2007)
  • Iranian Immigrants in Los Angeles: The Role of Networks and Economic Integration by Claudia Der-Martirosian (2008)
  • Sons and Other Flammable Objects: A Novel by Porochista Khakpour (2008)
  • At the Crossroads of Three CulturesYoung Iranian American Jews in Los Angeles and Their New Organizations by Dalia Safaradi (2011)
  • From the Shahs to Los Angeles: Three Generations of Iranian Jewish Women Between Religion and Culture by Saba Soomekh (2012)
  • Iranian-American Acculturation of First Generation Immigrants in Los Angeles and the Iranian Acculturation Scale by Shaghayegh Nourian (2012)
  • From Persia to Tehr AngelesA Contemporary Guide to Understanding and Appreciating Ancient Persian Culture by Kamran Sharareh (2013)
  • The Luminous Heart of Jonah S. by Gina Nahai (2014)
  • The Thousand and One Borders of IranTravel and Identity by Fariba Adelkhah (2015)
  • The Internet and Formations of Iranian American-ness: Next Generation Diaspora by Donya Alinejad (2017)
  • Impossible Places: The Aesthetic Unconscious and Post-migrant Iranian Subjectivity in Los Angeles by Nazanin Naraghi (2017)
  • Both Eastern and Western: An Intellectual History of Iranian Modernity by Afshin Matin-Asgari (2018)
  • Iranian Diaspora Identities: Stories and Songs by Ziba Shirazi and ‎Kamran Afary (2020)
  • Experiences with DepressionLos Angeles Area Female Iranian Immigrants in Late Adulthood by Victoria Shirazi (2020)
  • Tehrangeles Dreaming: Intimacy and Imagination in Southern’s Iranian Pop Music by Farzaneh Hemmasi (2020)
  • America and IranA History, 1720 to the Present by John Ghazvinian (2021)

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Eric Brightwell is an adventurer, essayist, rambler, explorer, cartographer, and guerrilla gardener who is always seeking paid writing, speaking, traveling, and art opportunities. He is not interested in generating advertorials, cranking out clickbait, or laboring away in a listicle mill “for exposure.”
Brightwell has written for Angels Walk LAAmoeblogBoom: A Journal of CaliforniadiaCRITICSHidden Los Angeles, and KCET Departures. His art has been featured by the American Institute of Architects, the Architecture & Design Museum, the Craft ContemporaryForm Follows FunctionLos Angeles County Store, the book SidewalkingSkid Row Housing Trust, and 1650 Gallery. Brightwell has been featured as subject in The Los Angeles TimesHuffington PostLos Angeles MagazineLAistCurbedLAEastsider LABoing BoingLos Angeles, I’m Yours, and on Notebook on Cities and Culture. He has been a guest speaker on KCRW‘s Which Way, LA?, at Emerson Collegeand the University of Southern California.
Brightwell is currently writing a book about Los Angeles and you can follow him on AmebaDuolingoFacebookGoodreadsInstagramMubithe StoryGraphand Twitter.

7 thoughts on “No Enclave — Iranian Los Angeles

    1. Thank you! I’m not sure. Sometimes I let the news suggest it to me. I was thinking maybe of doing one about Russian Los Angeles — because I do worry that innocent Russians are being demonized for what is happening in Europe and I did one, not long ago, about Ukrainian Los Angeles… but then, it’s almost May — Asian American Heritage Month — so maybe an Asian ethnicity. We’ll see!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. To tell the truth, it is so wonderful that you created such an extensive article where you covered so many interesting and significant points. It is so interesting to delve into the histories of different countries and get to know them from the other side because it is the best opportunity to broaden your horizon. I came to the conclusion that Iran is a truly incredible country with its unique distinctive features and with its huge amount of difficulties. Quite frankly, before this moment I hadn’t been aware of the fact that Iran has such a close connection with Los Angeles and that this connection covered so many aspects. I really like art and it is so important that an overseas Iranian music industry has long flourished in Los Angeles because a lot of talented musicians can feel their value and open new prospects for themselves, capturing the hearts of many people. Iranian music has a great history and its distribution is necessary in our modern world.

    Liked by 1 person

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