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  • Open Access
  • © 2020

Internal Diversity

Iranian Germans Between Local Boundaries and Transnational Capital

Palgrave Macmillan
  • Combines a Bourdieu-based understanding of transnational strategies of capital accumulation with a social anthropological field study of boundary making processes

  • Offers a new approach capable of revealing the interrelation between dynamics in local and transnational contexts

  • Reveals the complexity of internal diversity and how it is situated between the fluidity of some social boundaries and the rigidity of others

Part of the book series: Global Diversities (GLODIV)

Buying options

Softcover Book USD 59.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book USD 84.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)

Table of contents (7 chapters)

  1. Front Matter

    Pages i-xvi
  2. Introduction

    • Sonja Moghaddari
    Pages 1-38
  3. An Association Between Diversity and Exoticism

    • Sonja Moghaddari
    Pages 125-161
  4. A Festival at the Interstices of Value Systems

    • Sonja Moghaddari
    Pages 197-225
  5. Conclusion

    • Sonja Moghaddari
    Pages 227-243
  6. Back Matter

    Pages 245-248

About this book

This book explores the interrelation between diversity in migrants’ internal relations and their experience of inequality in local and global contexts. Taking the case of Hamburg-based Iranians, it traces evaluation processes in ties between professionals – artists and entrepreneurs – since the 1930s, examining migrants’ potential to act upon hierarchical structures. Building on long-term ethnographic fieldwork and archival work, the book centers on differentiation, combining a diversity study with a focus on locality, with a transnational migration study, analysing strategies of capital creation and anthropological value theory.

The analysis of migrants’ agency tackles questions of independence and cooperation in kinship, associations, transnational entrepreneurship and cultural events within the context of the position of Germany and Iran in the global politico-economic landscape. This material will be of interest to scholars and students of anthropology, sociology, migration, urbanism and Iranian studies, as well as Iranian-Germans and those interested in the entanglement of global and local power relations. 


  • Iran
  • Germany
  • Transnational capital accumulation
  • Internal diversity
  • Pierre Bourdieu
  • integration
  • social cohesion
  • immigration
  • social differentiation
  • internal differentiation
  • migration


“Making sense of local and transnational engagements, Moghaddari pushes us to take a closer look at the interstices of manifold diversities and cross-border ties. This rigorous and rich study offers new insights into migrants’ agency in a little studied group.” (Thomas Faist, Professor of Transnational Relations, Development and Migration, Bielefeld University, Germany)

“Internal Diversity is a careful reading of a community spanning multiple generations, in which businessmen, students, artists, and professionals have generated myriad markers of distinction. Moghaddari destabilizes the category of “Iranian-German” and forces us to bring the local and transnational together without collapsing them into a unified whole.” (Arang Keshavarzian, Associate Professor of Middle Eastern Studies, New York University, USA)

“Moghaddari’s rich ethnography of the fragmentation and diversity of what is assumed to be homogeneous diasporic Iranianness is – theoretically as well as empirically – a major contribution to larger fields of migration and diaspora studies.” (Shahram Khosravi, Professor of Social Anthropology, Stockholm University, Sweden)

“Sonja Moghaddari documents the social life of people of Iranian descent in the German city of Hamburg. Through suggestive ethnographic vignettes, in constant dialogue with theoretical discussions, she depicts subtle processes of social differentiation. The book harmoniously brings together local, national and transnational dimensions.” (Alessandro Monsutti, Professor, Department of Anthropology and Sociology, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Switzerland)

“Sonja Moghaddari’s study on Iranian-Germans is a vivid ethnography of an understudied migrant group, enhancing our understanding by providing a valuable historical perspective. Beyond the empirical insights, Moghaddari also makes an important contribution to our understanding of cultural capital in migration, through a perceptive analysis of differentiation, the workings of capitals across fields and the politics of value. While contributing to nuanced scholarly debate, the book's lively style makes it compelling reading for academics and students.” (Umut Erel, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Social Sciences, The Open University, UK)

“With a keen ethnographic eye, Sonja Moghaddari delves into the histories and present-day worlds of Iranians in Hamburg, Germany. Across several strategic case studies of familial and professional ties, she reveals how transnational capital and kin networks shape local boundaries of social status and difference. A significant contribution to the field of Iranian Diaspora Studies, this is a highly readable, engaging book that brims with original insight into an understudied population and phenomenon.” (Neda Maghbouleh, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Toronto, Canada)

“An empirically rich and theoretically informed analysis of the interlinkages between diversity and transnationality among Iranian-Germans.” (Boris Nieswand, Professor, Institute of Sociology, University of Tübingen, Germany)

Authors and Affiliations

  • Department of Sociology and Social Research, University of Trento, Trento, Italy

    Sonja Moghaddari

About the author

Sonja Moghaddari is Visiting Postdoctoral Researcher at the Scuola Normale Superiore, Italy. 

Bibliographic Information

  • Book Title: Internal Diversity

  • Book Subtitle: Iranian Germans Between Local Boundaries and Transnational Capital

  • Authors: Sonja Moghaddari

  • Series Title: Global Diversities

  • DOI:

  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan Cham

  • eBook Packages: Social Sciences, Social Sciences (R0)

  • Copyright Information: The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2020

  • License: CC BY

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-3-030-27789-5

  • Softcover ISBN: 978-3-030-27792-5

  • eBook ISBN: 978-3-030-27790-1

  • Series ISSN: 2662-2580

  • Series E-ISSN: 2662-2599

  • Edition Number: 1

  • Number of Pages: XVI, 248

  • Number of Illustrations: 5 b/w illustrations, 12 illustrations in colour

  • Topics: Human Migration, Diaspora Studies, Ethnography

Buying options

Softcover Book USD 59.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book USD 84.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)