Institutional Affiliation :
Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh
Academic Bio :
After completing her undergraduate studies in Ferdowsi University, Mashad, Taraneh moved to India to do a master's degree in Cultural Studies. Upon Returning to Iran, she worked at the Tehran office of United Nation's High Commissioner for Refugees. In 2007, she started doing her PhD in Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh. Her PhD is on the construction of gender identity in the popular cinema of post-revolutionary Iran. Her research interests include popular culture, identity politics in popular cinema, gender, ideology and cultural politics in cinemas of the developing world particularly Iranian cinema.
Concise Paper Title :
To Laugh or Not to Laugh: a Discussion of Hegemony and Television Comedy in Post-revolutionary Iran
Paper Abstract (maximum of 400 words) :
My paper seeks to study the development of television comedy as a powerful mode of negotiating popular culture in Iran. After the 1979 Islamic revolution, the Islamization of Iran involved a re-appropriation of popular culture in the country. Within the official discourse of the Islamic Republic, popular culture was initially equated with the populist culture that the government was propagating. In the absence of satellite television, the production and propagation of this populist culture was exclusively in the hands of national television, IRIB ( Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting). Over the past 30 years, the cultural policies incorporated in television production have undergone profound changes , in an attempt to accommodate the changing needs of the cultural consumers of today’s post-revolutionary generation. This paper is interested in investigating the ways in which television comedy has been successful in facilitating a negotiation between the cultural policies of the Islamic Republic and the demands of the consumers of this culture. My argument here is mainly informed by the Gramscian notion of hegemony. Such a notion will enable us to observe how the dominant ideology is able to accommodate and find some space for opposing class cultures and values. Expanding that notion, I would like to draw on Stuart Hall in examining popular culture as the locus of continuing tension between dominant and subordinate classes. In his influential study, ‘Notes on deconstructing the popular’ (1981), Hall encourages an understanding of popular culture in terms of a “dialectic of cultural struggle” and considers it to be a process where points of resistance and moments of suppression occur simultaneously. Popular culture, thus, becomes a site of negotiation of the relations of dominance and subordination. This paper seeks to explore how such negotiation disrupts and probelmatizes the boundaries of ‘popular’ and ‘populist’. To elaborate my arguments in this discussion, I shall be making various references to a number of sitcoms, directed by Mehran Modiri. An established actor and director, Modiri is perhaps best-known for his direction of several television comedies, most of which have been extremely popular and controversial at the same time. I have chosen to focus on Modiri’s work as I believe they clearly embody negotiated spaces within the dominant Islamic discourse.