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ABSTRACT

This article looks at the shifting position of the ‘Iranian diaspora’ in relation to Iran as it is influenced by online and offline transnational networks. In the 1980s the exilic identity of a large part of the Iranian diaspora was the core factor in establishing an extended, yet exclusive form of transnational network. Since then, the patterns of identity within this community have shifted towards a more inclusive network as a result of those transnational connections, leading to more extensive and intense connections and activities between the Iranian diaspora and Iranians in Iran. The main concern of the article is to examine how the narratives of identity are constructed and transformed within Iranian (charity) networks and to identify the factors that contribute to this transformation. The authors use the transnational lens to view diasporic positioning as linked to development issues. New technological sources help diaspora groups, in this case Iranians, to build virtual embedded ties that transcend nation states and borders. Yet, the study also shows that these transnational connections can still be challenged by the nation state, as has been the case with recent developments in Iran.