Spatiality of Discontent in Tehran's 'Revolution Street', Two Historical Snapshots

The concept of a spatiality of discontents refers to the loading and reloading of public spaces with memories and histories of agency for change. This phenomenon has been in evidence across the region in the wake of the Arab uprisings, as spaces like Tahrir Square in Cairo and Taksim Square in Istanbul were transformed into highly politicized platforms of collective actions and thereby re-signified as spaces of political mobilization and change. Tehran is no exception: like other insurgent cities of the Middle East, it has expanded its spatiality of discontents through recent protests–specifically, the Green Movement of 2009. The Movement once again highlighted the political importance of Revolution (Enqelab) Street in building and representing spaces of protest in Iran, but it also imbued other spaces with political significance as well– in particular, Valiasr Street, which emerged as a new ground on which to stage a more heterogeneous and disobedient citizenship. This essay explores these spatial dimensions of the political life of the city, and in so doing examines the ways in which the Green Movement bonded and broke with the past–in particular the Revolution of 1979.