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Paradoxes of transnational space and local activism

Iranians organizing across borders

Halleh Ghorashi and Nayereh Tavakoli

The Iranian revolution of 1979 promised to bring freedom and equality, but as soon as one group gained power, it turned out to be oppressive of both its political opposition and women. This resulted in the formation of a large Iranian diaspora bound together by its hatred for the Iranian regime. Years of suppression in the 1980s in Iran resulted in a deep gap between Iranians living inside and outside Iran. During the 1990s, however, cross-border relationships started to change as a result of two major factors: transnational activities and the influence of cyberspace. This paper focuses on the paradoxes of transnational connections in local protest with a focus on the women’s movement. We show both how transnational links have empowered women activists in Iran and how they have led to new dangers at the local level. We also reveal how support from the Iranian diaspora can be patronizing as well as supportive.

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Sanaz Nasirpour

access to and use of new technology, as Sutton and Pollock (2000) astutely note. This inspiration is clearly expressed in my interview with Mahboubeh Abbasgholizadeh, one of the prominent leaders of the Iranian women’s movement, and founder of Zanan TV