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Social Justice and Neoliberal Discourse: The Politics of Labor in Post-Revolutionary Iran

Tuesday 26 November 2019
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Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden

How has the Islamic Republic of Iran’s discourse over labor and workers transformed since the 1979 revolution? What explains fundamental shifts in the dominant narrative in terms of class, social justice, and neoliberal rhetoric?

These messages entered the Iranian public space at different stages throughout contemporary history, carrying diverse political meanings and impacting workers’ lives. If in the aftermath of the revolution, discourses of class and social justice merged under the Khomeinist umbrella (as leftist symbols were isolated and engulfed), since the early 1990s the IRI’s dominant discourse de facto customized the dictum “produce and consume” and the neoliberal myth of the winner. Therefore, how has the politics of labor evolved beyond rule and coercion? What role have workers played in discourses and counter-discourses?

This lecture – building on primary sources in Persian (such as official speeches, newspaper articles, historical documents) as well as interviews carried out by the author in Iran – tackles these questions. It explains how a particular use of IRI’s public discourse and politics has narrowed workers’ political space, while social distance among classes has expanded.

About Stella Morgana

Stella Morgana is a Ph.D. candidate at Leiden University. She researches labor and workers’ social history in contemporary Iran. Her academic articles have been published in Iranian Studies and IRAN – the Journal of the British Institute for Persian Studies, among others

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