Deviance and Camouflage City: Sexual Deviance and The Construction Of Invisible Urban Spaces In Post-Revolutionary Tehran

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 11:30 AM
Room: 424
Oral Presentation
Babak RAHIMI , Religious studies, University of London, Tehran , Iran
This study is an attempt to expand on the relationship between sexual deviance and urban space in the context of post-revolutionary Iranian society. It focuses on Tehran, a major metropolis where gender segregation and heterosexual norms in the form of family institution appear to dominate societal norms. But this study instead offers an ethnographic acccount on various “sexual deviant” practices including homosexuality, transvestic fetishism, sadism, and necrophilia in diverse city spaces to shed light on a hidden world in post-revolutionary Iranian urban life. The notion of “camouflage city” underscores the complex relationship between embodiment and city space and argues how behaviors deemed “sexually deviant” in Tehran continue to undergo illumination for concealment through heterosexual normative practices sanctioned by the Islamist normative discourses and practices. The study specifically looks at transsexual practices both in terms of everyday and institutional life in the context of changing state official and public perceptions of sexual deviancy. It also looks at how such practices tend to resemble a particular cultural life of a distinct urban space, where everyday sensibilities become fused with ways sexual deviance is practiced and made (in)visible in shifting daily/nightly life situations. In the final section, the study theoretically examines deviancy as performative act which is always spatial practice and that it involves a de-labeling process to destabilize the societal norms whose infraction constitute sexual deviance.