This tag is associated with 11 posts

Becoming a Post-Soviet City: Social Housing and Urban Planning in Yerevan

Since gaining independence, Yerevan has been subjected to a complex process of postcolonial nation-building while simultaneously adopting globalized urbanization trends. Similar to many other gentrifying cities, demolition and displacement are becoming more and more a common practice. New multinational construction projects are presented and justified as acts of nation-building while the low income majority is expected by the emerging elite to make sacrifices for the benefit of the nation as a whole. Continue reading »

A Mural Erased: Urban Art, Local Politics, and the Contestation of Public Space in Mashhad

Municipal politics around beautification programs reveal the complexity of governance in Iran and shatter illusions about the monolithic nature of the Iranian state. By exploring how local actors express often-contradictory opinions about the nature and future of Iranian cities, a fuller picture of modern life and politics in Iran emerges — one that highlights the diffuse nature of power and local decision-making in the Islamic Republic. Continue reading »

A Fashionable Revolution: Veiling, Morality, and Consumer Culture in Iran

The everyday practice of the mandatory veil has indeed been noticeably shifting ever since the first generation of women who were born after the 1979 Revolution came of age in the mid-1990’s. This kind of fascination with Iranian women and their sense of dress, however, obscures the complexities surrounding how Iranian women actually practice the mandatory veil. These articles produce simplistic generalizations by treating women’s bodily surfaces as a measure of societal progress and morality; romanticizing the notion of resistance; and eliding the significance of class and consumer culture in everyday urban life. Continue reading »

Whose Anatolia? Mapping Complexities and Shared Histories Between Kurds, Armenians, and Turks

There are mountains and there are roads. From an airplane, Eastern Anatolia looks like Frankenstein’s monster as the craggy mountains of the Zargos, Tarsus, and Caucasus ranges collide with geologic logic, sutured together by some of the finest roadways in the world. The modern republics facing this jagged jumble are as powerful as that monster, but perhaps also as hollow. Continue reading »

Constructing Sacred Space: An Architectural History of Mashhad’s Imam Reza Shrine

Like the city itself, the Imam Reza shrine complex grew gradually over time as political elites tried to establish their legitimacy. Rulers strove not only to appease the local religious establishment by funding elaborate building projects around the site, but also hoped to create physical testaments to their political authority. Due to the inherent political nature of these structures, the site was destroyed and subsequently rebuilt as it changed hands from dynasty to dynasty. Continue reading »

“This Place Should Have Been Iran”: Iranian Imaginings in/of Dubai

It is precisely the position between an Iran back home and an Iran abroad, or Iran’s present circumstances and possible future, which informs the sense of displacement so widely shared among Iranian expatriates here. For many Iranians, Dubai’s emergence as a global metropolis is imagined to have resulted, more specifically, from the displacement of Iranian modernity. Continue reading »

Seeing Through the Haze: the Politics of Reporting Sanctions and Smog in Tehran

This winter has been a particularly rough one in Tehran. For the third year in a row, air pollution has frequently reached highly unhealthy levels, and schools and other public institutions have closed for days at a time in response. Although Tehran’s air quality has been a major issue for decades, never in recent memory … Continue reading »

Towards an Armenian-Iranian Modern: Tehran Church Architecture & Post-Revolutionary Soccer Culture

A post written by Asher Kohn, a law student at the Washington University in St. Louis, focusing on the interplay between theories of jurisprudence and land use in Central Asia. Follow Asher on Twitter @AJKhn. For other articles in Ajam’s series on Armenian-Iranians, check out “A Bridge to New Julfa: A Historical Look at the … Continue reading »

Welcome to Qom: City of Samosas and Mullah Factories

The first glimpses of Qom are always a let-down. The approach begins about an hour into the journey south on the Tehran-Qom road, when, after a long stretch of craggy red hills and dusty desert, the bus reaches the top of its last peak. As it passes the summit and begins its final descent, laid … Continue reading »

Tehran from 435 Meters: The View from Geisha

Tehran is a city defined by a distinctly Islamic modernity. Although some have said it is not an “interesting” city (as Asef Bayat does in his brilliant article on the city’s urban development originally published in the New Left Review) and others have called it downright ugly, it has always held a special appeal for … Continue reading »