Looking toward the île de la Cité from the Pont des Arts, Paris. Photograph by Keelan Overton.

33 Arches is the name of my small business as an Independent Scholar, a position I have held for the last ten years. This independent path is relatively rare in North American and European academic circles, and I often find myself confused with a salaried professor or curator based in an institution. In the spirit of formalizing my career as an Independent Scholar and protecting my varied work between scholarship, production, and freelancing, I recently created 33 Arches.

Why 33 Arches? Bridges have been on my mind, both physically and intellectually. Since 2019, I have been working on the Emamzadeh Yahya at Varamin and trying to balance my academic writing on this Iranian tomb-shrine with scholarly products that bridge audiences, languages, perspectives, and disciplines. The first of these products is an online exhibition that aims to be fully bilingual (English-Persian), involve Iran-based scholars in equal measure, and explore the shrine through a resolutely interdisciplinary lens. This open-access website is a major production of digital scholarship: an online exhibition, exhibition catalog (book), and independent publishing house in one.

For some, 33 Arches will immediately recall the Si-o-Seh Pol in Esfahan, so called because of its 33 arches. For me, it also signifies the current count of contributors to the exhibition. On a related note, the current number of features in the exhibition is 35, and I am completing the project in a city with 37 bridges. This auspicious view from the Pont des Arts, captured the evening after I sketched a version of the logo below (thank you Type A Creative), sealed the name.

Independent—Interdisciplinary—Innovative