Young and Defiant in Tehran

Young and Defiant in Tehran

Young and Defiant in Tehran

Young and Defiant in Tehran

Synopsis

Young and Defiant in Tehran Shahram Khosravi "One of the most methodologically sound and theoretically grounded studies of Iranian youth produced so far.... Highly recommended."--"Choice" "A lively and rich text for anybody interested in youth culture, urban and popular cultures, cultural politics, Muslim cultures, and Middle East studies. Shahram Khosravi defies popular images of dull Iranian culture and introduces vibrant features of Tehran life and cultural negotiations. The book successfully engages and uniquely contributes to ongoing debates about Islam, modernity, culture, urban spaces, and resistance."--"Anthropological Quarterly" With more than half its population under twenty years old, Iran is one of the world's most youthful nations. The Iranian state characterizes its youth population in two ways: as a homogeneous mass, "an army of twenty millions" devoted to the Revolution, and as alienated, inauthentic, Westernized consumers who constitute a threat to the society. Much of the focus of the Islamic regime has been on ways to protect Iranian young people from moral hazards and to prevent them from providing a gateway for cultural invasion from the West. Iranian authorities express their anxieties through campaigns that target the young generation and its lifestyle and have led to the criminalization of many of the behaviors that make up youth culture. In this ethnography of contemporary youth culture in Iran's capital, Shahram Khosravi examines how young Tehranis struggle for identity in the battle over the right to self-expression. Khosravi looks closely at the strictures confronting Iranian youth and the ways transnational cultural influences penetrate and flourish. Focusing on gathering places such as shopping centers and coffee shops, Khosravi examines the practices of everyday life through which young Tehranis demonstrate defiance against the official culture and parental dominance. In addition to being sites of opposition, Khosravi argues, these alternative spaces serve as creative centers for expression and, above all, imagination. His analysis reveals the transformative power these spaces have and how they enable young Iranians to develop their own culture as well as individual and generational identities. The text is enriched by examples from literature and cinema and by livid reports from the author's fieldwork. Shahram Khosravi is Associate Professor of Social Anthropology at Stockholm University. Contemporary Ethnography 2007 240 pages 6 x 9 1 map ISBN 978-0-8122-4039-9 Cloth $45.00s 29.50 ISBN 978-0-8122-2068-1 Paper $22.50s 15.00 World Rights Anthropology Short copy: In this ethnography of contemporary youth culture in Iran's capital, Shahram Khosravi examines the practices of everyday life through which young Tehranis demonstrate defiance against the official culture and the parental generation.

Excerpt

It happened in Tajrish Square early one afternoon in September 1993. Tehran was burning under the summer sun. At this time of year, the daytime temperature can reach 45° C in the shade. Years later, in September 1998, I visited this place in north Tehran in the early afternoon on several September days in order to build up an image of the incident. Tajrish Square, a central business zone, is usually crammed with people and cars. On this day the hot sun had driven people away to look for the comfort of their air-conditioned homes. the lively square, like the rest of Tehran, was having its long, tedious daily siesta. Even the peddlers, who usually occupy the southern part of the square, had taken refuge in the calm neighboring gardens. a few taxis were parked in the shadow of large old planes and their drivers were taking a nap.

The teenage girl inserted a small coin into the telephone and dialed. Her friend was waiting outside the telephone booth. Both were dressed in robes, their hair was covered with chic scarves in bright colors. the girl in the telephone booth broke into laughter, causing her friend to laugh too. After a while, the girl waiting on the pavement saw a young armed man jump out of a car. She panicked when he approached the telephone booth. in the mechanical reaction Iranian women have developed since the Revolution whenever they face the moral police, she calmly but with shaking fingers pulled her scarf forward, hid some strands of hair under it, and knotted it more tightly under her chin. She tapped on the glass to warn her friend, who did not react but laughed even louder when she saw the man coming toward them. He passed the young girl on the pavement, pulled open the door of the booth, and asked to whom the girl was talking. She turned her back on him and said that was none of his business. the man snatched the receiver and loudly demanded to be told who was on the other end of the line. Silence. Upset, he accused the girl of talking to a man. He shouted at her to correct her veil and threatened her with arrest. She did not touch . . .

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