The Politics of Building in Post-Revolution Tehran

Authored by: Azadeh Mashayekhi

Routledge Handbook on Middle East Cities

Print publication date:  June  2019
Online publication date:  June  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138650749
eBook ISBN: 9781315625164
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter demonstrates how the shifts in Iran’s political system after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, and wider global processes such as neo-liberalisation and globalisation, had significant implications for Iranian spatial development policies and urban development in Tehran. Since 1979, the Islamic Republic has sought to “catch up” with developed nations and to establish an independent and economically self-sufficient development model based on the principles of Islam. However, despite the utopian motto of the Islamic leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini, a motto that was intended to reject the two rival models of development and find a “third way”, this chapter argues that the state’s development policies after the Islamic Revolution were neither Islamist nor capitalist. Instead, the Islamic Republic adopted a hybrid commitment to Islamism, nativism, and developmentalism in building a new state and modernising the nation. As Mashayekhi shows, since the 1979 Islamic Revolution until the present, Iranian cities, especially Tehran as the capital city of Iran, remain a spatial projection of this hybrid commitment. Ultimately, this chapter concludes that urban development in Tehran after the Islamic Revolution was an outcome of particular power relations, which were neither absent from the wider processes of globalisation and neo-liberalisation nor passive towards them.

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