Chapter 9: Where is Iranian politics? Between state and nation, inside and outside the polity
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The September 2022 death in custody of Mahsa (Jhina) Amini sparked a nationwide response from young women and their male allies and counterparts, the biggest popular mobilisation in Iran since the 1979 revolution that overthrew the shah. Led by young women, thousands have taken to the streets; the slogan 'Zan, Zendegi, Azadi' has acquired international recognition and the poignant anthem of the movement, a song by Shirvin Hajipour, won a Grammy award. The dynamics of this mobilisation add new layers to the already complicated nature of Iranian politics, where it is situated and how it is manifested. The conceptual focus of this chapter is the complicated set of relationships between geography and politics in an exilic, diasporic post-revolutionary Iran. Three powerful spatial dynamics are at work in the analysis of a country's political orbit. One is the classic remit of the international relations between states. The second is the mainstream remit of political analysis, the national dialogue - sometimes open, often constrained - between the state and its inhabitants. The third is the cross-border space between the state and its citizens who - as diaspora, exiles and migrants - live in other countries. Too often each is analysed in isolation, part of the intellectually unedifying division of academic work. In this chapter, we explore where contemporary Iranian politics exists and how it is played out through each of these political geographies.

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