Oral Narration in Iranian Cultures: A Conference in honour of Professor Bo Utas on his 80th Birthday

Oral narration is one of the verbal arts intrinsic to human nature, yet it has been much less studied than written literature. Oral traditions are central to Iranian cultures, but are facing a threat of extinction even more dire than the loss of Iranian indigenous languages generally. This conference will bring together international experts to examine varied perspectives on oral narration among ethnic groups within the Iranian-speaking cultural sphere. It will encompass diverse oral narrative traditions, taking in approaches from folklore, ethnology, typology, discourse linguistics, and social anthropology.

We celebrate the jubilee of Prof. Bo Utas with a conference on oral narration in Iranian cultures. Bo Utas developed his deep interest in the art of oral transmission of Iranian texts during his training with the eminent Uppsala scholar H.S. Nyberg (1889-1974). Utas has pursued the problem of orality vs literacy in Iranian, finding oral literature more akin in structure to written literature than to the ad hoc spoken language (2008: 229). He compares a ‘high language’, written or oral, to a cultivated garden, as a “formal way of expression” (Utas 2013: 169).

DATES: 7–9 June 2018

VENUE: Uppsala University, Ihresalen, Engelska parken, Thunbergsvägen 3, Uppsala

The conference is open to the public and there are no entry or participation fees


Thursday 7 June Friday 8 June Saturday 9 June
9.00-9.30 Introduction

Carina Jahani

9.00-10.00 Margaret Mills

Literary, local, global

Varieties of Localization in Dari Persian storytelling in Afghanistan

9.00-10.00 Erika Friedl

Blessings and curses of longitudinal research in a tribal community in southwest Iran

9.30-10.30 Bo Utas

Functional multilingualism and the use of standard languages

10.00-10.30 Sabir Badalkhan

War and romance in 15th and 16th century Balochistan: Love Romances of Mīr Bībagr Rind

10.00-10.30 Guiti Shokri

Oral literature in Mazandarani

10.30-11.00 Coffee
11.00-11.30 Julia Rubanovich

At a carrefour of orality and textuality: The concept of the book in medieval Persian folk narratives in prose (dāstāns)

11.00-11.30 Johnny Cheung

A new interpretation of the function of several mythical animals found in Yezidi stories

11.00-11.30 Kumiko Yamamoto

Oral/Aural nature of the longer Barzunāme


11.30-12.00 Christina van der Wal Anonby

Poetics, Text, and Oral Literature —Collected thoughts on Iranian narratives


11.30-12.00 Agnes Grond

Multiple repertoires, plurilingual speakers, multilingual stories.

Bayram narrations of the Kurdish Speech Community in Graz/Austria

11.30-12.00 Chams Bernard and Philippe Hattat

Presenting Iranian Zoroastrian Traditional Oral Literature

12.00-12.30 Eleanor Coghill

North-eastern Neo-Aramaic narrative techniques in their Iranian context

12.00-12.30 Sara Belelli

The ‘Innocent Persecuted Heroine’ Tale in Southern Kurdish Folk Literature

12.00-12.30 Coffee and sandwich
12.30-14.00 Lunch 12.30-13.30 Closing session
14.00-14.30 Maryam Nourzaei

Tradition of mamabies (songs for a new mother and her baby) in Afro-Balochi communities

14.00-14.30 Hossein Safi Pirlooje

گزیده‌خوانی از زیرمتن: بایسته‌ی برداشت‌های ادبی از قصه‌های عامیانه‌ی فارسی

14.30-15.00 Mousa Mahmoodzehi

A reflection of some geographical place names from Balochistan in its oral literature

14.30-15.00 Ravshan Rahmonov

پژوهش ادبیات گفتاری تاجیکان پس از استقلال تاجیکستان

15.00-15.30 Coffee
15.30-16.00 Jaroslava Obrtelova and Raihon Sohibnazarbekova

Evidentiality in Wakhi oral narratives

15.30-16.00 Tork Dalalyan

Some remarks on genealogical legends of the Ossetic Tagaours

16.00-16.30 Carina Jahani

Diverging syntactic features in oral versus written narration in Balochi

16.00-16.30 Behnaz Hosseini

Transformation of oral religious tradition among Yārsāni in Iran

16.30-17.00 Sohrab Dolatkhah

The Qashqay oral tradition: interactions with the folklore of Iranian ethnics

18.30-22.00 Conference dinner

Prof. Carina Jahani, Department of Linguistics and Philology, Uppsala University, Sweden
Dr. Christina Anonby, Leiden Institute for Area Studies, Leiden University, The Netherlands
Dr. Johnny Cheung, INALCO, Paris, France
Dr. Maryam Nourzaei, Department of Linguistics and Philology, Uppsala University, Sweden

Contact: oral.narration@lingfil.uu.se