Iran’s politics and society continue to be the focus of public discussions across the world. Yet rarely does the complexity deserving of these subjects receive adequate consideration. Iran in (Re)View aims to make this complexity legible. Rather than reproducing conventional narratives and convenient clichés, perpetuated by the mainstream media and the ruling classes, the organizers of this conference intend to foster an open atmosphere for the exchange of critical and alternative perspectives. This dialogue will address a range of key issues pertaining to social, economic and political realities of Iran today.
Iran’s politics and society continue to be the focus of public discussions across the world. Yet rarely does the complexity deserving of these subjects receive adequate consideration. Iran in (Re)View aims to make this complexity legible. Rather than reproducing conventional narratives and convenient clichés, perpetuated by the mainstream media and the ruling classes, the organizers of this conference intend to foster an open atmosphere for the exchange of critical and alternative perspectives. This dialogue will address a range of key issues pertaining to social, economic and political realities of Iran today. These include: the workings of class in the Islamic Republic, movements for social and economic justice – particularly those of the working class, women, students, and LGBTQ – the effects of economic sanctions, and the threats of war by the US and its allies, including the Canadian government.
Join us as we critically examine these issues, and explore opportunities for solidarity in the struggles against oppression and exploitation through a series of panels in Persian and English.
Iran in (Re)view has been organized by various Iranian activists, students, workers and academics, and made possible by support from Opirg Toronto and Opirg York, CUPE National, and CUPE Ontario.
12:30 pm – Registration and Reception
1:00 – 1:30 pm – Opening the conference (Farsi & English)
1:30 – 3:00 pm: Panel One: Iran after Elections: Change or Consolidation (in Farsi- English translation may be available)
3: 15 pm – 4:45 pm: Panel Two: Histories in Context and Futures at Stake (In English)
5:00 pm – 7:00 pm: Panel Three and closing remarks: Toward Strengthening a Solidarity Beyond Borders: International solidarity in action
*This event is free.
*The Koffler House at U of T is fully accessible.
*There will be cameras, video recorders, and voice recorders throughout the event. Please let us know if you do not want to be filmed.
*Please contact us if you have any accessibility issues that we need to consider.
Full description of the panels, moderators, and confirmed panelists:
1:30 – 3:00 pm – Panel One: Iran after Elections: Change or Consolidation (In Farsi)
The recent presidential election in Iran in June 2013, which ended up with Hassan Rouhani’s victory, has faced mixed reactions among Iranians and various organizations and circles. Some believe that victory of Rouhani, who is being declared as a moderate figure, implies that the Islamic Republic of Iran has changed its approach, and, accordingly, is following a new agenda in respect to its domestic and foreign policies. In other words, it is being argued that Rouhani is capable of opening up the political realm inside Iran on the one hand, and reaching an agreement with the Western powers on Iran’s nuclear program. Others, in contrary, refute this view, and deem it as an inaccurate and unrealistic analysis. They maintain that such developments within Islamic Republic of Iran are not unprecedented, and the transition of power in this state is merely confined to a small group of staunch adherents of it. Therefore, they would argue that progressive and profound transformation would not occur through elections or within the Islamic Republic of Iran or by the reliance on the power struggles between the Western imperial powers and the repressive Islamic regime of Iran. In the Panel titled “Iran after election: change or consolidation”, which is in Persian, presenters talk about the recent presidential election and its implications.
Shahrzad Mojab, scholar, teacher, and activist, is internationally known for her work on the impact of war, displacement, and violence on women’s learning and education. She is professor of education and women’s studies at OISE/University of Toronto. Two of her most recent publications are Educating from Marx: Race, Gender and Learning (co-editor, 2012) and Women, War, Violence, and Learning (editor, 2010).
Mina Khanlarzadeh is a third year PhD student at Columbia University at the MESAAS Department. You can read some of her published essays on Z Magazine, Jadaliya, and Praxis (a Persian website).
Amir Hassanpour has taught and conducted research on the history and politics of the Middle East. At the University of Toronto, he has taught nationalism, social movements and mass media of the region and is currently doing research on nationalist and peasant movements.
Mohammad Ashrafi is a well-known Iranian labour and socialist activist and former political prisoner. He has been in Canada since December 2013. Mohammad Ashrafi is a member of central council of The Committee to Pursue the Establishment of Workers Organizations in Iran and was a representative of The Committee at the Collaborative Council of Labor Organizations and Activists. He is also a member of Shahrokh Zamani Defense Committee.
Behnam Amini is a graduate student at York University in the program of Social and Political Thought. He has been actively involved in Iranian student movement since the year 2000. Amini has also written a number of articles in various Persian journals. You can find his recent articles and interviews on contemporary Iran, in particular, his recent views on 2013 presidential election in Radiozamaneh, BBC Persian and Akhbar Rooz.
3:15 pm – 4:45 pm – Panel Two: Histories in Context and Futures at Stake (In English)
This panel seeks to unpack and critically examine the contemporary Iranian politics and society while contextualizing it in terms of global processes like patriarchy, religion, neoliberalism and the capitalist world system. How have class, gender and ethnicity oppression been institutionalized and reproduced in the Islamic Republic of Iran within such globalizing contexts? What have been the implications of recent economic sanctions by the US and its allies, and how have ordinary people in Iran experienced them? What is the agenda of Western Powers in Iran? How can we better understand and support the struggles in Iran against these forms of oppression in a global context? What can we learn from the challenges experienced in other part of the world?
Behzad Sarmadi is a Phd Candidate in the field of Socio-Cultural Anthropology at the University of Toronto. His research focuses upon Iranian immigrants in the Persian Gulf (especially Dubai), and concerns the politics of identity in contexts of migration, contemporary forms of urbanization and everyday ethics.
David McNally is a long-time left scholar-activist and professor at York University. He is the author of six books: Political Economy and the Rise of Capitalism (1988); Against the Market: Political Economy Market Socialism and the Marxist Critique (1993); Bodies of Meaning: Studies on Language, Labor and Liberation (2001); Another World is Possible: Globalization and Anti-Capitalism (2002; second revised edition 2006); Global Slump: The Economics and Politics of Crisis and Resistance (2010) and Monsters of the Market: Zombies, Vampires and Global Capitalism (2011). His articles have appeared in many journals. David’s research interests include the theory and practice of democracy, Marxism and anti-racism, socialist-feminism, classical and Marxian political economy, Hegel and dialectical social theory, and the history of anti-capitalist movements.
Dr. Thomas M. Ricks is an independent scholar following four and a half years as Lecturer in the Department of History, the University of Pennsylvania, and sixteen years as Villanova University’s Director of International Studies and Associate Professor of History in the Center for Arab and Islamic Studies. His research has focused on 18th and 19th Century Iranian politics and economy, modern Middle Eastern history, and oral histories of the Palestinian Intifada.
Farid C. Partovi is a grassroots labour and socialist activist. He is a longtime organizer with the International Alliance in Support of Workers in Iran. Among other involvements, Farid is also an elected member of the Canadian Union of Public Employees-Ontario Division’s International Solidarity Committee.
5:00 pm – 7:00 pm – Panel Three and closing remarks: Toward Strengthening a Solidarity Beyond Borders: International solidarity in action (In English)
In May 2013, the Munk School of Global Affair launched a new initiative called “The Global Dialogue on the Future of Iran” that was supported by the Conservative government of Canada. This initiative was another attempt to present the people’s struggle in Iran for justice, freedom, and equality through the eyes of a right-wing think tank and in the political interests of the West against the Iranian regime. However, the complicity of the Canadian government in spreading injustice in Canada and in the world, and the role of mining corporations behind the Munk School in destroying the livelihood of the millions around the world have yet to be questioned in the way they envision a future for Iran. There is also a question of the political engagement of Iranian Diaspora in regard to this initiative that how and in which ways Iranian activists should build their networks of solidarity. Why the struggles in Canada and around the world against colonialism and the global capitalism, as well as class, race, gender and sexual oppression matter for the struggles in Iran against injustice and repression? The purpose of this panel is to explore alternative perspectives in the politics of solidarity beyond borders. Presenters will discuss the inter-connectedness of the struggles around the world through their own perspectives and experiences.
Shourideh C. Molavi is a student and writer based in Toronto. For the past nine years she has worked with numerous civil society groups of the divided Palestinian community in Gaza City, Nablus, Jerusalem, Haifa, Ramallah and Bethlehem. Much of this work has been with the Palestinian citizens of Israel through Haifa-based NGOs, including Mada al Carmel: Arab Center for Applied Social Research and Adalah: Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights.
Sakura Saunders is a founding member of the Mining Injustice Solidarity Network and an organizer with ProtestBarrick.net, an all-volunteer online network of groups researching and organizing around mining issues, particularly involving Barrick Gold. Ms. Saunders came to Protest Barrick as an independent journalist and activist, whose radio/tv work has appeared on Democracy Now! and Sprouts radio and whose writing is published regularly on CorpWatch.org and The Dominion paper in Canada.
Audrey Huntley is a storyteller, documentary filmmaker and community researcher of mixed European and Indigenous ancestry. She grew up in Calgary, Alberta and moved to Europe as a young adult. She completed a Masters degree in Germany while organizing with other foreign students and feminist autonomists in the ongoing struggle to free Palestine, fight Neo-Nazis and end heteropatriarchal violence. Since returning to Turtle Island in 1998, she has bounced back and forth between Vancouver’s downtown eastside where she joined the movement to end colonial violence against Indigenous women and Toronto where she co-founded No More Silence, a group that has been raising awareness about missing and murdered Indigenous women in the city for the past 10 years.
Syed Hussan is a writer and community organizer in Toronto alongside migrant and undocumented communities fighting against detentions and deportations. He has been part of struggles against indefinite immigration detention, the campaign to make Toronto a Sanctuary city, to defend Toronto city services against cuts and more. Hussan is also an anti colonial organizer supporting indigenous land defenders across Turtle Island.
Sardar Saadi is a researcher and grassroots activist based in Toronto. He has been an organizer with OPIRG-Toronto, OPIRG-York, and No One Is Illegal-Toronto since he came to Canada. Sardar has also been active in the Kurdish movement in Iran and Turkey. His researches mainly focus on the Kurdish self-determination movement, neoliberal developments in the Middle East, the welfare state, and alternative social assistance programs. His most recent research is on Diyarbakir municipality’s social assistance programs.