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Between Convenient Misreading and Mythology: The Iran Sanctions Regime and the Institutionalization of War

[Iran's parliament presiding board members, top row, Iranian and foreign leaders and top officials, all back to camera, listen to Iran's national anthem at the start of the ceremony for the new President Hasan Rouhani's swearing-in at the parliament in Tehran, Iran on 4 August 2013. Image by Ebrahim Noroozi via Associated Press]

After eight years of Ahmadinejad at the helm of government, Iran is experiencing a new trajectory. A number of promising signs in the weeks and months following Hassan Rouhani’s election as president on 14 June 2013 have given rise to a sense of cautious optimism for change and reform in Iran. Such signs include the release of a limited number of political prisoners and the country’s improving relations with the world, leading some to warily suggest we might be witnessing an unfolding of an Iranian Glasnost. The caution is rooted principally in a desire to avoid a repeat of the setbacks Khatami suffered, both on the domestic front as well as on the international ...

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Open Letter from NYC Iranians to Mayor de Blasio: When You Stand by AIPAC, You Do Not Stand by Us

[NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio with Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. Image from]

[The following open letter was issued by a group of Iranians and Iranian-Americans living in New York City. It was first published on Mondoweiss on 12 March 2014] Open Letter from NYC Iranians to Mayor de Blasio: When You Stand by AIPAC, You Do Not Stand by Us Dear Mayor Bill de Blasio, We are a group of Iranians and Iranian-Americans living in New York City. We are firmly committed to opposing state repression — regardless of the race, ethnicity or nationality of the people suffering, and regardless of whether the oppressive government is Iranian, American or otherwise. Throughout your mayoral campaign, we were encouraged by your call for an end to the NYPD’s ...

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New Texts Out Now: Kamran Matin, Recasting Iranian Modernity: International Relations and Social Change

[Cover of Kamran Matin,

Kamran Matin, Recasting Iranian Modernity: International Relations and Social Change. London and New York: Routledge, 2013. Jadaliyya (J): What made you write this book? Kamran Matin (KM): My main motivation in writing this book came from my dissatisfaction with existing accounts of the Iranian Revolution. Previous accounts imputed an "exceptional" character to the revolution on the grounds of its religious form. The argument that the revolution was "exceptional" neutralized the contradiction between the revolution’s religious form and the secular eschatology of modernity central to the traditions of classical social theory underpinning these ...

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In Iran, Global Social Action to End Violence Against Women Takes on Local Forms

Iranians have joined the One Billion Rising global campaign to end violence against women. The global campaign, now in its second year, calls on supporters in different countries to gather publicly on 14 February 2014, and collectively dance for justice for women. Since strict prohibitions in Iran on public assemblies make collective “risings” an obvious impossibility, Iranians have turned to different methods of participation. The One Billion Rising–Iran group has created a Facebook page to serve as the main platform for Iranians’ participation in the global campaign. Iranians from inside and outside Iran have been invited to make short videos, in which people are ...

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Understanding Gender Politics in Modern Iran

By Alex Shams The 1979 Iranian Revolution dramatically changed how Iranians thought about their lives and country in every single way. Never before in modern history had a popular revolution led to the establishment of an Islamic Republic, and for the most part neither Iranians nor foreigners had any idea what to expect as the self-proclaimed Islamic order came to power. Nowhere were the dramatic transformations brought by the revolution more pronounced than in the realm of gender relations. The secular Pahlavi regime had represented itself as the harbinger of Western modernity in Iran, while the Islamic Revolution declared its struggle to be the end of ...

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Arabian Peninsula Media Roundup (December 3)

[The P5+1 states and Iran reached an agreement on Tehran's nuclear program last week. Image from US Mission Geneva/flickr]

[This is a roundup of news articles and other materials circulating on the Arabian Peninsula and reflects a wide variety of opinions. It does not reflect the views of the Arabian Peninsula Page Editors or of Jadaliyya. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each week's roundup to by Monday night of every week.] Regional and International Relations Greenert confirms expanded footprint in Bahrain Hendrick Simoes examines the statement made by Admiral Jonathan Greenert, the chief of naval operations, on the importance of Bahrain for US presence in the region. Iran nuclear deal: Saudi Arabia and Gulf react with caution Ian Black ...

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Fugitive Markets and Arrested Mobilities: Gaziantep’s Iranian Bazaar

[The newly constructed Ataturk Pasaji in the Iranian Bazaar in Gaziantep, Turkey. Photo by Emrah Yıldız.]

Under the auspices of ongoing negotiations between the Iranian state and the P5+1 over the former’s nuclear program and the crippling economic sanctions unleashed by the latter on Iran and its citizens, Moharram proceedings are nonetheless underway full-force in Tehran. Even in Meydoone-e Kajj of Tehran’s Saadat Abad, at the center of the capital’s northern upscale edge and green-turned-purple core, and even against an internationally engineered seventy per cent currency devaluation, one is faced with countless Moharram celebration booths, serving passers-by refreshments and vocalizing captivating recitations days away from Ashura in Tehran. As once traffic-clogged ...

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O.I.L. Media Roundup (30 October)

[United States President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and their daughter Malia meet with Malala Yousafzai, a young Pakistani schoolgirl who was shot in the head by the Taliban in 2012, in the Oval Office on 11 October 2013. Image from The White House/Flickr.]

[This is a roundup of news articles and other materials circulating on Occupation, Intervention, and Law and reflects a wide variety of opinions. It does not reflect the views of the O.I.L. Page Editors or of Jadaliyya. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each biweekly roundup to by Monday night of every other week.]  News Iran Amid Signs of Detente with Iran, Netanyahu Warns Against Sanctions Letup, Tom Curry Curry reports for NBC News on US tensions with Israel in light of the former warming relations with Iran. Positive First Day for Geneva Talks Amid High Hopes in Iran, Jasmin Ramsey Ramsey, writing for Lobelog, reports ...

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The Discourse of Terror: An Interview with Judith Butler


[The following text is an extract from Cihan Aksan and Jon Bailes’ recent book Weapon of the Strong: Conversations on US State Terrorism (Pluto, 2012), also featuring Noam Chomsky, Richard Falk, Edward S. Herman, Norman Finkelstein, and others.  Click here for more details.] To what extent, in your view, do the ways in which mainstream media select and contextualise events determine the boundaries of public thinking?  You have said on one hand, regarding the “framing” of war and terrorism, that, “Efforts to control the visual and narrative dimensions of war delimit public discourse by establishing and disposing the sensuous parameters of reality ...

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Oil Nationaliazation and the 1953 Coup in Iran: A Conversation with Ervand Abrahamian

Demonstrators in Iran during the 1953 coup, Frank Walsh Creative Commons.

In August 1953, the U.S. and British governments overthrew the popular government of prime minister Mohammad Mossadegh and paved the way for the autocratic rule of Mohamad Reza Shah Pahlavi. In his latest book, The Coup: 1953, the CIA, and the Roots of Modern U.S.-Iranian Relations, Distinguished Professor of Iranian and Middle Eastern history and politics at City University of New York Ervand Abrahamian reveals how the United States reaped a substantial share of Iran’s oil wealth and became a dominant player in the Middle East and North Africa following the coup. Many also argue that the 1979 Iranian Revolution - which brought to power Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in a ...

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Shaking Up Expectations: The Boundless New Horizons of Iranian American Literature

[Cover of

Tremors: New Fiction by Iranian American Writers. Edited by Anita Amirrezvani and Persis Karim. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 2013. Iranian American literature has been caught in a representational bind, one that is overdetermined by the fraught relationship between Iran and the United States. Is it the writer’s job to challenge stereotypes about Iran and Iranians, to educate American readers about Iran as an act of literary diplomacy? Or are we to write unconstrained by the geopolitical context, making representational choices regardless of how they align with dominant messages about Iran, Islam, and Muslim women and men? And what to do about the tastes ...

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Marriage Contracts and the Mashhadi Jewish Community: Art as a Second Identity in the Nineteenth Century

[Cropped image of nineteenth-century Qajar era painting known as

During Iran’s Qajar period (l785-1925), when wedding memories were ephemeral—specialized photographers or videographers were not available quite yet—artifacts like the marriage contract became the material substance through which sacred unions were validated and remembered. These inherently practical documents were stunning works of art as well, with which families could express social status, engage in trends, and, in some cases, masquerade their identities. As the major “souvenir” from Iranian weddings, the marriage contract served as a tool for newlyweds and their families to declare their class and confessional associations in written form. The marriage contract, ...

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GCHR Annual Report 2014: Rising Human Rights Challenges in the Gulf Region and Beyond

[The following report was published by the Gulf Center for Human Rights on 1 March 2014] Rising Human Rights Challenges in the Gulf Region and Beyond: Annual Report of the Gulf Center for Human Rights 2014 Executive Summary This is the second annual report of the Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR).  GCHR documents the human rights environment for human rights defenders working in the six Gulf Cooperation Council member states (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab ...

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Committee to Protect Journalists: Second Worst Year on Record for Jailed Journalists

 [The following briefing was written by Elana Beiser and published by the Committee to Protect Journalists on 18 December 2013] Turkey, Iran, and China accounted for more than half of all journalists imprisoned around the world in 2013, the Committee to Protect Journalists has found. In its annual census, CPJ identified 211 journalists jailed for their work, the second worst year on record after 2012, when 232 journalists were behind bars.  Intolerant governments in Ankara, Tehran, and ...

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The Present Flies, the Past Remains

Le passé [The Past], directed by Asghar Farhadi. France/Italy, 2013. In an interview given last year, Asghar Farhadi, the Iranian filmmaker best known for his Oscar-winning film, A Separation (2011), discussed the influence of theater on his work: “What I tried to take from theater to cinema is that every viewer sees his own movie, and that nothing is imposed to him or her. This means that we cannot see the world with a precise angle. There should always be different angles,” like in theater where ...

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Persian Translation of 'Fugitive Markets and Arrested Mobilities: Gaziantep’s Iranian Bazaar'

 بازار ایرانیان قازیانتب: بازارهای قاچاق و تحرکات متوقفشده با وجود مذاکرات جاری بین ایران و گروه 1+5 بر سر برنامۀ هستهای ایران و تحریمهای فلجکنندهای که بر این کشور و شهروندانش تحمیل شده، ساز و کار محرم فارغ از این تحولات و با تمام قوا در تهران به پیش میرود. حتی در میدان کاج محلۀ سعادتآباد تهران در حاشیۀ شمالی پایتخت، منطقهای اعیاننشین و هستۀ جنبشی که سبز بود و بعد بنفش شد؛ و حتی با وجود سقوط 70 درصدی ارزش پول ملی میتوان دکههای بیشماری را دید که چند روز پیش از عاشورا برای زنده نگه داشتن محرم بر پا ...

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Conference: Contested Space and Urban Identities in Beirut, Cairo, and Tehran (Beirut, 12-14 December 2013)

Divercities aims to look at urban governance, its agents, agendas and options, through contested space and conflicting urban concepts, identity claims and social environments. Situated at the core of social and political fractions, contested spaces reveal insights into the dynamics of diverse societies and urban identities. The focus will be on the three cities of Beirut, Cairo and Tehran, each highlighting different types of fragmentations, political, cultural and social. Different social layers ...

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India's Iran Policy: Between US Primacy and Regionalism

Abstract Standing at a press conference with Turkmenistan’s Deputy Prime Minister Rashid Meredov on January 22, 2013, India’s President Pranab Mukherjee committed India once more to a natural gas pipeline to run from Central Asia to South Asia. “India is deficient in energy resources,” said the President, “whereas Turkmenistan is rich in hydrocarbons.” The economic complementari­ties are obvious, but not so clear are the political ramifications. The President said that the pipeline is “important for ...

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Weaving Ethical Concerns and Aesthetic Aspirations: Fatwas and Nose Jobs in Iran

Iran has recently been labeled the nose job capital of the world; a fact that comes as a surprise to those who get caught up on the Islamic Republic’s strict and serious image. As opposed to what one might imagine, no sort of governmental or Islamic legal permission is required to access cosmetic surgery services throughout the country. However, that is not to say that Islamic law has nothing to say about the matter. Quite the contrary, religious leaders have found it necessary to engage with the issue ...

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Revolutionary Memory: Bahman Ghobadi’s Rhino Season and Mohammadreza Farzad’s Falgoosh

Fasl-e Karkadan [Rhino Season]. Directed by Bahman Ghobadi. Iraq/Turkey, 2012. Falgoosh. Directed by Mohammadreza Farzad. Iran, 2012. Post-revolutionary nations, in particular those with strong state-sponsored cultural organs, very frequently have done much to advance the commemoration of revolutionary moments central to their national narratives. In Egypt, the post-1952 state invested in the cultural memory of not only Free Officers movement, but also that of the 1919 revolution—numerous novels, films ...

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The Irony of Rights: Healthcare for Queer and Transgender Refugee Applicants in Turkey

The crowd in front of the police station is chatting in clusters in the brutal summer heat. Refugee applicants occasionally stop their conversation to say hello to friends and acquaintances who arrive on foot or on bicycles. It is Wednesday, the signature day (rooz-e emzaa) in Kayseri; a weekly ritual in every “satellite city” in Turkey, when refugee applicants are required to appear in person at designated local police stations to sign and prove that they are there. Until this spring, Marjan also came ...

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New Texts Out Now: Christiane Gruber and Sune Haugbolle, Visual Culture in the Modern Middle East

Christiane Gruber and Sune Haugbolle, editors, Visual Culture in the Modern Middle East: Rhetoric of the Image. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2013. Jadaliyya (J): What made you put together this collection? Christiane Gruber and Sune Haugbolle (CG & SH): When we first met at a memory studies workshop in 2007, we talked about the need to bring visual culture as an emergent discipline into communication with media studies of the Middle East. In our discussions, we agreed that it would be ...

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O.I.L. Media Roundup (13 August)

[This is a roundup of news articles and other materials circulating on Occupation, Intervention, and Law and reflects a wide variety of opinions. It does not reflect the views of the O.I.L. Page Editors or of Jadaliyya. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each biweekly roundup to by Monday night of every other week.] News "Israel Announces 1,200 Planned Homes Over 1967 Line," Edmund Sanders The Los Angeles Times reports on Israeli plans to build more ...

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O.I.L. Monthly Edition (July 2013)

[This is a monthly archive of pieces written by Jadaliyya contributors and editors on the Occupations, Interventions,and Law (O.I.L.) Page. It also includes material published on other platforms that editors deemed pertinent to post as they provide diverse depictions of O.I.L.-related topics. The pieces reflect the level of critical analysis and diversity that Jadaliyya strives for, but the views are solely the ones of their authors. If you are interested in contributing to Jadaliyya, send us your post ...

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