Environmentalism in Iran: Between Contentious Politics and Creative Claim Making

In recent years environmentalism in Iran has been undergoing a subtle shift from consciousness raising and contentious politics towards lifestyle priorities. The current phase of environmentalism has not completely replaced environmentalism in its previous form, but new forms of environmentalisms have been introduced in this new phase. These new forms are less directly involved in civil society mobilization and contentious politics. Instead, they are increasingly focused on alternative practices of lifestyles and designing of new institutions. In contrast to the previous phase, this emergent phase of environmentalism involves a broader segment of middle class and therefore is more inclusive. Whereas in the past environmentalists would mostly target the Iranian government and would encourage the expansion of a public sphere, environmentalists of the new phase center their attention on lifestyles, human-environment interactions and different forms of economy and economic organization. In the proposed research I will study three different dominant forms of this new phase of environmentalism i.e. the construction of Iran’s first eco-village and growing attempt in sustainable empowering of local communities; rapid expansion of eco-tourism enterprises; and increase in the number of vegetarians, vegetarian restaurants and shops (which are totally new phenomena in Iran). I seek to better understand the emergence of Iranians’ growing environmental consciousness; for example, is it the result of transnational flows of knowledge, expertise and people, or does it reflect an endogenous desire to imagine what Erik Olin Wright (2010) calls a ‘real utopia’? Finally, I will explore whether these new trends function as measure of distinction that serves to reify existing inequality in Iranian society; are examples of what Martinez-Alier (2003) calls ‘the environmentalism of the poor’ or they manifest a different societal transformation.

Principal investigators
Fadaee, Simin Dr. (Details) (Transformation Societies in Asia/Africa)

DFG: Sachbeihilfe

Duration of project
Start date: 06/2015
End date: 10/2015

Last updated on 2022-22-11 at 04:05