580.3 Ideologies in motion: Gender-segregated buses in Tehran, Iran

Friday, August 3, 2012: 3:00 PM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Nazanin SHAHROKNI , Sociology, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA
This paper is based on a broader research project which includes 3 case studies of gender segregation -- women-only parks, segregated buses, and soccer stadiums -- in Tehran, Iran to offer a contextual analysis of segregated spaces and their implications for women.

Since its establishment in 1979 the Islamic Republic of Iran has attempted to segregate the public spaces of the city along the gender lines. Soon after its establishment beaches, university classrooms, and buses became segregated and women's entrance into spaces such as sports stadiums where men's sports matches were held was prohibited. These practices are often lumped under the all-encompassing term 'gender-segregation' and are considered to be part of the State's project of Islamization of public spaces. In this paper I will focus on public transportation (particularly buses) in Tehran to challenge the unidimensional theorization of gender segregation practices and demonstrate the various meanings that have been associated to the production, expansion and usage of the segregated bus space in Tehran, Iran. Drawing on my ethnographic research conducted between 2008 to 2010 and the data collected through archival study and interviews with the City and government officials I explore the ways in which 'religious' and 'secular' values have merged to create particular spatial arrangements in the buses. I contend that segregated spaces, as all other spaces, are socially produced and enable/disable different kinds of subjectivities.