Who is writing here

Normally I am a quiet person and think very little of extravagant self-portrayals, but since I have ventured out to share my thoughts with others through this blog, a few brief details about my background might not be out of place.

My name is Vincent Joseph Vaessen and I am currently an undergraduate and student assistant at the Oriental Institute at Cologne University, where I focus on Iranian Studies. Born in the Netherlands from a Dutch father and a Polish mother, I have by now spent most of my life in Germany, where I previously studied Dutch and German literature and philosophy before finally discovering my interest in Oriental Studies.

My main research interests are orientalist representations of Iran in online travelogues and popular literature, the early photography of the MENA region and Asia Minor (for lack of a just and less othering description) roughly from the late 1850s to the 1820s, oral literary traditions and professional storytelling as a cultural mnemonic practice, and the intertwinedness of music, ritual and religion.

I consider myself somebody who still has a lot to learn and I would never dare to regard myself an expert on anything. As William Blake wrote in his Proverbs of Hell: “Expect poison from the standing water.” Also I am an avid podcast listener, a digital humanities enthousiast (albeit with some critical remarks) and a strong supporter of free knowledge and open access publishing.

This blog is an attempt to find a defendable conceptual approach to Iranian Studies and to place a big variety of topics of my interest within that framework in a meaningful way. This has certainly already been done in various comprehensive and productive ways, and I have no intention of developing my own theoretical or methodological approach to the field, it would be quite a presumptuous undertaking. But this blog allows me to reflect more consciously on my readings and the ongoing learning process as a student, enabling me to refine my views while studying and writing, last but not least by the help of questions, remarks and criticism that I hope to receive from readers.

Please don’t hesitate contact me about your comments, critique and suggestions.