ALEX SHAMS /// Gender Politics in the Iranian Urban Space


This first conversation with Alex Shams (the second will occur in Palestine this coming February) takes for site the Iranian city and the politics of gender exercised in it, both under the regime of the Shah and during these last thirty-five years in the context of the Islamic Republic. We start by establishing the framework of our critique and the traps to avoid — the example of Mehran Tamadon’s recent film Iranian (2014) being illustrative for this matter. Alex takes us then in his research articulating both the ideological/imaginary and the physical/urban context of gender politics in Iran. This includes a ‘chapter’ about the 2009 green movement that followed the manufactured re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and whose occurrence and suppression were conditioned by the urban space.

Alex Shams is an Iranian-American journalist based in the West Bank. He is a co-editor-in-chief of Ajam Media Collective (, a blog focused on society and culture in Iran and Central Asia. He also works for Ma’an News, the largest Palestinian news agency. See his Funambulist contributor page.

– “Political Walks: Tehran: Rise and Fall of the City’s Premier Nightclub Strip,” in The Funambulist 7 (Sept-Oct 2016) Health Struggles.




– Alex Shams, “No, Iran Didn’t Just Ban Women From Universities,” on Ajam Media Collective (August 22, 2012)
– Alex Shams, “Picturing the Iranian Everyday: An Interview with the Photographers Behind ‘Humans of Tehran,'” on Ajam Media Collective (August 10, 2013)
– Alex Shams, “Ajam Reads: Understanding Gender Politics in Modern Iran,” on Ajam Media Collective (October 29, 2013)


– Ziba Mir-Hosseini, Islam and Gender: The Religious Debate in Contemporary Iran, Princeton University Press, 1999.
– Minoo Moallem, Between Warrior Brother and Veiled Sister: Islamic Fundamentalism and the Politics of Patriarchy in Iran, University of California Press, 2005.
– Roksana Bahramitash and Hadi Salehi Esfahani (eds), Veiled Employment: Islamism and the Political Economy of Women’s Employment in Iran, Syracuse University Press, 2011.
– Tara Povey and Elaheh Rostami-Povey (eds), Women, Power and Politics in 21st Century Iran, Ashgate, 2012.
– Nima Naghibi, Rethinking Global Sisterhood: Western Feminism and Iran, University of Minnesota Press, 2007.


– USA: “Gendered Violence in Bathrooms, Streets, and Prisons” with Sophia Seawell (May 2014)
– MEXICO: “The Politics of Gender in Mexico” with Estefania Vela (August 2014)
– SOUTH AMERICA: “The Architecture of Gender in South America” with Liliana de Simone (August 2014)