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Not So Green: Paradigm Shift in the Iranian Political Resistance Discourse and the Political Economy of Protest in Iran from 2009 to 2022
Protests and slogans have been a mainstay in the Iranian political resistance discourse, especially since the so-called Green Movement of 2009. In this study, we trace the development of a dialectical challenge by the Kurdish women’s movement and its interaction with broader discourses of political resistance in Iran from the 2009 Green Movement to the 2022 social rupture triggered by the murder of Jina (Mahsa) Amini. The study draws on three factors to contextualize its discourse analysis: (1) The function and structure of the Iranian public sphere is contingent on the reproduction of the economic base structure of Iranian society, particularly intra-state core-periphery relations where national margins emerge; (2) The Iranian public sphere structurally marginalizes discourses and voices that are fundamentally associated with class, nationality, and gender as nodes of concern in the social system, which constitutes elements of epistemic injustice; and (3) The Iranian political resistance discourse is a contest over “legitimate resistance” by the different interlocutors, including status quo supporters (regime remainers) and the Kurdish women’s movement. By compiling and analyzing slogans employed during protests—as a medium of political discourse—changes in the language of resistance in the Iranian political resistance discourse specific to the legitimacy of reform and reasons for resistance have been observed. We consider such discursive changes to be symptomatic of a greater transformation of the Iranian political resistance discourse. Furthermore, the study examines existing literature on the prolonged internal contradictions of the Iranian state’s political-economic social structure that gradually surfaced in the 2010s, punctuated by the 2017-2018 protests and the 2019 “Bloody Aban” uprising, as well as the most recent uprising of 2022, under the slogan of “Woman, Life, Freedom.”
Political Science
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