Kevan Harris, University of California-Los Angeles
Elections have been trivialized in Iran. They allow for the expression of diversity, in particular ethnical and denominational, of historical regional identities, and prove the growing professionalization of political life. Paradoxically, such professionalization withdraws the Republic away into the levels of family, parenthood, autochthony, and even neighborhoods or devotional sociability, which are all institutions that instill a feeling of proximity, solidarity, communion; close to the notion of asabiyat. As the saying goes, the Islamic Republic has become a « parentocracy » (tâyefehsâlâri). The country’s industrial development isn’t at odds with such ponderousness since it lies on a web of very small family businesses. The analysis of the 2016 legislative elections in four wards reveals how important the issue of property is in political life, indivisible as it is of the various particularistic consciences. The connections with notables are still there, revealing lines of continuity with the old regime as well as longstanding agrarian conflicts that have not been erased by the Revolution and that are being kept alive through contemporary elections.
Olivier Grojean et Merve Özdemirkiran
Ariel E. Levite, Bruno Tertrais
The concept of "Thermidorian situation" finds itself in the tradition of the "authoritarian situation" (Guy Hermet) and "colonial situation" (Georges Balandier). It accounts for historical experiences of postrevolutionary regimes and their economic liberalization in the context of neo-liberal globalization. Developed from the Cambodian case, the Thermidorian comparative paradigm helps to interpret the economical and political liberalization processes in post-communist states and the establishment of their revolutionary elite into a dominating class. This interpretation does not refer to the normative and teleological terms of "transitology". Nevertheless, understanding the Thermidorian moment implies that it should not be reduced to a mere preservation of power, as an utilitarian reading of the events would imply. Indeed, it has to deal with autonomous social dynamics. Other types of post-revolutionary trajectories that are non-socialist, such as the Islamic Republic of Iran, can serve as good examples of this phenomenon. The Thermidorian paradigm takes into account a plurality of relatively homogeneous trajectories that combine into a revolutionary event, a process of institutionalization and professionalization of the latter, and of a dynamic of integration into the capitalist world economy. This concept cannot stand for an explanation, but emphasizes the specificity of the regimes that stem from a revolution and that are confronted to their own reproduction within the context of the dismantling of the socialist camp and neoliberal globalization. "Thermidorisms" have their own historicity, notably the revolution they arose from. They also have their own political economy that cannot be reduced to the imposition of the neo-liberal model. Thermidorian moments are historical experiences subjected to contingency vagaries and social struggles. As such, they are "situations" (Jean-Paul Sartre) in which the reproduction of power and liberty of actors are simultaneously at stake.
Though Afghan emigration results from sociopolitical circumstances (drought, changes in the system of government, wars) and from the economic structure (pastoralism, seasonal cycles of productive activities), it is part of a historical continuum of recurrent population movements in the region. Many Afghans, particularly Hazaras, have settled in Iran since the end of the 19th century. Their presence in the country intensified during the 1970s following the Iranian oil boom and the Afghan drought, but also following the political upheavals in Afghanistan since 1978. The Islamic Republic has adopted a changing and rather inconsistent policy to deal with these immigrants, and in a both popular and formal climate of xenophobia the country’s current objective is to repatriate them. Yet, the presence of Afghans on Iranian soil seems irreversible as it satisfies economic needs, reflects the intensity of commercial exchanges between the two countries, and constitutes a complex cross-border social reality. Lastly, the Afghan presence stokes a public and legal debate on how to define citizenship, while it appears to be inherent to the Iranian conception of its own nation.
The concept of "world community" is nowadays very commonly employed by researchers dealing with the social aspects of globalization. At the same time, the words "islam" and "umma" -be they used by medias, politicians or scholars- have sometimes assumed the existence of such a community which is supposed to link all Muslims wherever they live. This kind of approach was strongly revived during the "Rushdie affair": the transnational dimension of the protest against the writer and the very content of ayatollah Khomeini's fatwa furthered it.The starting point of this paper is to take the "world community" postulate at its word. What are we talking about ? Who speaks about it ? Under what circumstances and from which places ? How the limits of this concept can be established, or rather how can it be constructed by the observer to become useful ? These questions are addressed by examining the early stage of the anti-Rushdie protest in its worldwide dimension. It is suggested that an analysis of the understandings and strategies of the mobilized groups, of their symbolic and concrete transnational interactions, as well as a comparison between the social and political national contexts, help to identify the "interpretive community" which was formed at this juncture.
One of the most remarkable social phenomena in Iran in the 1990s is the audacious policy of urban redevelopment carried out by the mayor of Tehran, Gholamhossein Karbastchi. This policy, on the one hand, has become a model for the rest of the country. On the othe, it is the subject of a widespread political debate favorized by the personal, high-profile media style of the city's mayor. The most popular achievement of Karbastchi is the increase in the number of public squares and parks. These public places have become the stage for a whole series of totally new social practices. As such they are both a scene of acts of reconciliation and of potential conflict. In particular they are the setting for a coexistence between the ideology of the Islamic Republic and of national culture.However the increase in taxation that has accompanied this urban renovation has generated opposition both of a political and economic kind. The public's use of these gardens, the perception of the tax burden required to finance them, and the ensuing debates over these questions have opened up a negociating area between social actors, one that might well contribute to the creation of a public space. This process has helped the rationalization and the bureaucratization of society conveyed by the Islamic Republic while, at the same time, being carried out by a political figure who is perceived within the framework of a culturally constructed imagination. In fact the hypothesis of the "rentier" state, posited by a number of authors concerning the Middle East, is extended in this paper through anthropological study.