Editor's note

During Sunday’s Academy Awards, Iranian director Asghar Farhadi will be conspicuously absent. After President Trump issued his travel ban, the Best Foreign Language Film nominee decided to boycott the awards. Farhadi has good reason: In Trump’s hardline rhetoric, he sees similarities to the repressive theocracy back home. 

Penn State’s Kevin Hagopian takes readers into Iran’s film industry, in which filmmakers must toe a fine line between creating resonant art and evading government censors. The fact that their films receive worldwide acclaim is a testament to the obstacles they’re able to overcome.

Nick Lehr

Editor, Arts and Culture

Top story

Director Asghar Farhadi wins the award for best screenplay at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival. Yves Herman/Reuters

How Iranian filmmakers like Asghar Farhadi defy the censors

Kevin Hagopian, Pennsylvania State University

Their critiques may be more gentle, their attacks more circumspect – but they are resonant nonetheless. And when filmmakers like Farhadi confront Trump, they're on familiar turf: They've seen his type back home.

Politics + Society

  • Where is 'rural America,' and what does it look like?

    Kenneth Johnson, University of New Hampshire

    'Rural America' is a deceptively simple term for a remarkably diverse collection of places. Understanding – and improving – these parts of the country is critical for all Americans.

  • How the 'guerrilla archivists' saved history – and are doing it again under Trump

    Morgan Currie, University of California, Los Angeles; Britt S. Paris, University of California, Los Angeles

    Activists today are racing to save climate records from the Trump administration. Secret archives were a powerful way to fight hostile political climates throughout history – from the Nazis to the Islamic State.

  • How social media stars are fighting for the Left

    David Craig, University of Southern California, Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism; Stuart Cunningham, Queensland University of Technology

    Content creators with millions of fans are increasingly willing to voice their political views. Their influence on American politics may be in its infancy but it is growing fast.

Ethics + Religion

  • Hidden figures: How black women preachers spoke truth to power

    Kenyatta R. Gilbert, Howard University

    Since the 19th century, a long line of black women preachers set in motion a tradition that spoke against injustices and questioned patriarchal attitudes. Here's their story.

  • Who exactly are 'radical' Muslims?

    Z. Fareen Parvez, University of Massachusetts Amherst

    Muslims from the Salafist tradition can often be seen as 'radical.' There is not much understanding of Salafism, its history and its diversity. Here's what it means to be a Salafist.

Economy + Business

Science + Technology

Arts + Culture

  • Is your smartphone making you shy?

    Joe Moran, Liverpool John Moores University

    Some have said that technology could lead to 'a new ice age' of social isolation. Not so fast, says the author of a new book about shyness.

Health + Medicine