This panel was compiled by the Conference Program Team from independently submitted paper proposals
The two episodes of the contention during the Constitutional Revolution of the early 20th century and Mossadegh era in the mid-20th century depicted two different modes of public spaces in Tehran. From the courtyards of the mosques and shrines and the British Embassy Garden in the former case to Baharistan and Tupkhanih Squares in the latter case, the protestors used two different sets of spaces to oppose the hegemonic power. This essay investigates the reasons for this transformation and provides answers to why, how, when, and in response to which socio-cultural context such a shift happened. It shows that the transformation of the public spaces, in their political essence, was the byproduct of the grand transformations of social life and social spaces of the city and urban society. By investigating the traditional social spaces in the 19th century, such as mosques, takīyihs (spaces for taʿziyih passion play), bathhouses, zūrkhanihs (traditional gymnasiums), and coffeehouses, this essay demonstrates how the social life gradually transferred into new spaces such as theaters, parks, restaurants, cafes, museums, and the like towards the mid-twentieth century. It argues that the slow and gradual changes of the urban society and social life, sponsored by the state and desired by certain sections of the society, along with the changes in the physicality of the city, generated different manifestations of public spaces in the early and mid-20th century Tehran.