A Moral City or Spatial Reproduction of Islamic Patriarchy (A Critical Analysis of the Image and Spatial Relations of Iranian Cities)

By Ladan Zarabadi
Submitted to Session P4907 (Contested Cultures of Revolution: Cultural Production in the Islamic Republic of Iran, 2017 Annual Meeting
Archit & Urb Plng
Human Rights;
LCD Projector without Audio;
This paper examines public urban spaces as a form of cultural production. Since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, the government's policies have drastically influenced social, political, and cultural relations in Iran. The Islamic values defined by the regime have not only impacted civic laws, but also changed the image of Iranian cities and their spatial relations. Making the Islamic hijab mandatory for women in the public places has led to gender segregation in public spaces such as beaches, city buses, and most recently, urban public parks exclusively for women. Although there are mixed gender parks currently in use in the cities, creating women-only parks reinforces inequality and gender segregation which serve the Islamic Republic’s ideology. I study the process of these spatial changes from a feminist perspective. My main argument is to challenge the mechanisms of urban public spaces after the Islamic Revolution, and the way public spaces have become gendered in the name of “revitalization” of the Islamic culture. This paper also examines the Iranian women’s struggle over their rights to the urban spaces.
This research explores two important phenomena. First, it examines how the moral codes defined by the Islamic Republic, such as compulsory hijab, result in gender segregation and reproduction of patriarchal patterns; and second, it explores a paradigm in which the appearance of women in the streets has been transformed into a language that challenges the dominant governmental power, resists ideological policies of the government, and produces a form of social discourse.
The major questions posed in this research are:
1. How do the Islamic Republic policies produce urban spaces, which embody and perpetuate patriarchal culture?
2. How do Iranian women’s reactions produce a source of power to challenge the Islamic government?