Robin Brackett, 2019 Gruener Research Travel Awardee

Robin Brackett
M.A. Student
Roshan GIDP in Persian and Iranian Studies

Research Location

Yerevan, Armenia

On Site Research Dates

July 5 to August 11, 2019

Title of Research Project:

"The Iranian Diaspora in Soviet Armenia 1945-1979"

Thanks to the Gruener Travel Award, I was able to travel to Yerevan, Armenia to conduct research for my Master’s thesis on Iranians in Armenia and the significance of the Yerevan’s Blue Mosque in Iran-Armenia relations. This was my first time travelling abroad alone and I was quite fortunate to have had a safe and very positive experience.


In addition to visiting the Armenian National Archives and the Mashtots Institute of Ancient Manuscripts, I also spent a lot of time at the Blue Mosque complex in Yerevan. One of the highlights of this experience was the opportunity to practice my Persian language skills. Not only was the signage around the complex was in both Armenian and Persian, the staff at the mosque are all Iranian.


While in Yerevan I used interdisciplinary methods to collect data. I documented the galleries displaying historical photos from the mosque’s three hundred year history and am translating the placards from Persian to English. I am also translating the royal orders from two Persian kings regarding religious tolerance of Armenian Christians in the Shia Persian Empire as primary source material. The names of twelve Iranian patrons of the mosque are engraved on metal fence posts around the central garden and provide a path into the specific lives of those patrons. Because I am including an art historical perspective in my thesis I also documented the construction and architectural features of the mosque and its setting in a former Soviet Republic. In addition to these primary sources I was allowed to observe in prayer hall during Friday sermon and for the Eid-e Ghorbani festivities that auspiciously coincided with my time in Yerevan.


The Gruener Travel award didn’t just make it possible for me to afford airfare to Armenia, it also helped me focus the topic for my Master’s thesis and set the trajectory for the future of my academic career.  I am honored to be a recipient and for the opportunities it has afforded.