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Tidy brickwork and clean right angles are the signature of Iran’s urban landscape. Two years after these photos were made, the district was burned to the ground; reports said not all the women escaped alive.
The fire was set by religious militants seeking to purify the city before the return of Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to Iran.
Young Iranians also indulged in premarital and extramarital sexual escapades. One informant told Mahdavi that young men and women “go there, deep in the jungle, and have lots of sex, with lots of people; it’s really something to see.
When Iranian American anthropologist Pardis Mahdavi first visited Tehran in the summer of 2000, she expected to encounter the Iran she grew up imagining.
Her family remembered violence and extremism, and these were the images that stuck: “women clad in black chadors, wailing and whipping themselves,” “black bearded men with heavy hearts and souls,” arranged marriages, and the fierceness of the “morality police.” But while she encountered this repressed side of Iran, she also heard stories of and witnessed signs of what some friends and informants called a sexual or sociocultural revolution. Now the youth are trying to figure out what to do with all these opening doors.” Understandably, young people experience confusion in the face of competing ideals and desires—traditional expectations versus contemporary temptations—and the stakes of personal decisions remain high.
From exile in France, the Shi’ite cleric urged Iranians to overthrow the monarchy of the U.
S.-backed Shah Reza Pahlavi, and with it the secular modernity that had unsettled millions of devout Iranians who had moved to cities from the countryside, a migration that also amounted to a dislocation, one scholars later understood as a significant contributor to what came to be known as the Islamic Revolution.
- BBC (December 9, 2014) Iran: Divorce parties take off in major cities - BBC (May 20, 2014) The Politics of Marriage in Contemporary Iran (Persian) - UCLA (October 25, 2009) The Politics of Marriage in Contemporary Iran - UCLA (October 23, 2009) Marriage and Divorce Under Iranian Family Law - UT (July 15, 2011) The cost of a divorce in Iran?