Post-Revolutionary Fervor: Gender, Class, and Political Consciousness in Iran’s Social Movements (2000-2018)
Post-Revolutionary Fervor explores the intersection of class and gender politics in Iran over the last eighteen years, within the context of historical revolutionary Iranian consciousness broadly. I center a cohort of mostly women activists who are members of the generation born after the 1979 Revolution. Most of these individuals were among the younger key leaders of the most prominent grassroots campaign of the women’s movement during the 2000s, known as the “One Million Signatures Campaign to Change Laws that Discriminate Against Women,” which took place from 2006-2008. Many of these leaders had cut their teeth among the ranks of a growing left within the broader student movement in the 2000s. Their political consciousness was produced as a result of overlapping spaces and cross-fertilizing activist currents, including women’s rights groups, left student organizations, and illegal workers’ syndicates and labor unions. These activists were shaped both by Iranian intellectual history and transnational traditions of radical political thought. Analyzing a repertoire of oral history, poetry, public intellectual work, and film to explore activists’ political consciousness, I argue that this cohort expanded debates within these organizing spaces beyond both Western liberal feminist and Islamic feminist frames. They are among a generation that came of age during a period which saw ongoing attempts at economic neoliberalization in their country. In this context, I argue that the intersection of Islamic governance, neoliberal ideologies, and U.S. imperialist sanctions have produced gender relations in Iran. Contrary to the Orientalist view that intensified after 9/11 that presented Islam as standing in the way of Western-led market liberalization and capitalist expansion, I argue that neoliberal ideologies hostile to working people and friendly to privatization have intersected often successfully with Islamic governance in Iran. Thus, I also center the stories of working-class and working-poor women who have experienced precarious jobs, the informal economy, and state repression. I ultimately show that Iranians have challenged these forces of interlocking class and gender inequity through persistent popular protest.