Very little is known about the history of Africans in Iran, who came to the country primarily through the Indian Ocean slave trade in the late eighteenth century and also as sailors who came to work in the Persian Gulf. While slavery in Iran ended in the late 1920s, many Afro-Iranians settled in southern regions bordering the Persian Gulf after their emancipation which has made it difficult to adequately capture the number of Afro-Iranians in the country. There has been a notion of neglect, with very little representation of Afro-Iranians in mainstream media, reinforcing beliefs that Africans in Iran do not exist. However, this is slowly starting to change, as more individuals are becoming increasingly aware of this population, and are playing a role in addressing negative stereotypes and narratives that exclude this population of Iranians.
In his photo book, Afro-Iran – The Unknown Minority, German born Iranian photographer Mahdi Ehsaei captures the beauty of the African Diaspora in Iran with images that portray the diversity within a culture that is barely known.
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