Current Institutional Affiliation
Postdoctoral Research Associate in International and Public Affairs, The Watson Institute, Brown University

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2013
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, New York University (NYU)
Restaging the Revolution: Military Media and the Contested Legacies of Revolution in Iran

If successful, every revolutionary movement eventually faces a certain dilemma: how does the commitment to the revolutionary project get transmitted from one generation to the next as historical circumstances change? In the case of the Iranian revolution, from the 1979 generation to the present, different media forms have been critical indicators of generational sensibilities, from the graffiti, posters, faxes and other "small media" that characterized the early days, to the work in feature film, television, and social media identified with the contemporary moment. My research investigates how a new generation of Iranian revolutionaries deploys these media to constitute their own generational experience as cultural activists, and as a strategy for "restaging the revolution" for younger generations who have not shared that experience. I request funding for twelve months of ethnographic research on contemporary Iranian paramilitary culture, focusing on their media practices. The Basij, a popular wing of Iran's famed Revolutionary Guards, formed in 1980 at the outset of the Iran-Iraq War, building a reserve army among Iran's civilian population. Since then, their charge has shifted dramatically from guns to media. To understand why and how that has happened, I will focus on the work of Basij media producers as they create mainstream films and television serials at the Center for the Cinema of Revolution and Sacred Defense in Tehran, their most important film studio. Due to preliminary fieldwork and relationships established while making my well-received documentary on Basij victims of chemical weapons, I have permissions from key Basij media producers to shadow them on-set in order to understand how and why they create what they call revolutionary entertainment. This work is intended to contribute to theoretical questions about how media shape political dispositions and sensibilities and how states attempt to resignify revolutions for younger generations.