World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies

Barcelona, July 19th - 24th 2010


Urban planning in Iran: social consequences (408) - Panel

· Date: FRI 23, 9.00-11.00 am

· Language: English, Français

· Description: Chair: Fakhri Haghani (Professor/Instructor, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, USA)

Paper presenter: Mir Saeed Moosavi (Instructor, Islamic Azad University, Tabriz Branch, Iran), “An Introduction to Socio-spatial Consequences of Urban Poverty in Iran”
Numerous studies have been attempting to describe urban poverty focusing on drawing out its characteristics, but there is still no consensus on definition of urban poverty. Conventional economic definitions use income or consumption complemented by a range of other social indicators such as life expectancy, infant mortality, nutrition, the proportion of the household budget spent on food, literacy, school enrolment rates, access to health clinics or drinking water, to classify poor groups against a common index of material welfare. In addition to considerations of income, employment, and wages, definition of urban poverty always includes the lack of access to basic education, health care, urban infrastructures such as electricity, water and sanitation, and secure tenure, and exclusion from relevant decision making. In cities across the globe, especially in developing countries, hundreds of millions of people live in desperate poverty without access to adequate shelter, clean water, and basic sanitation. In developing countries like Iran, overcrowding and environmental degradation make the urban poor not only vulnerable to the spread of disease, constant threat of eviction, crime and violence but also affect urban spaces and environments both socially and spatially. In Iran, while natural population growth has been the major contributor to urbanization, rural-urban migration continues to be another important factor leading to great increase of urban poverty and negatively affecting the social and spatial dimensions of urban life. In this paper the intention is to analyze the causes and socio-spatial consequences of urban poverty in Iran.
Keywords: urbanization, urban poverty, urban space, environment

Paper presenter: Eshagh Rasouli Sarabi (Lecturer, Islamic Azad University Shabestar Branch), “Problems of Urban Transportation in Iran and Their Role as the Major Obstacle for Sustainable Development”
Transportation is vital to the dynamism of a city and the well being of its citizens can not be provided without access to good passenger and freight transportation services. On the other hand, rapid urban growth is imposing increasing stress on urban transportation systems and the increasing dependence upon vehicular circulation in urban life is further creating diverse problems in different countries all over the world especially in developing countries like Iran. Energy consumption, maintenance costs, growing traffic congestion, air pollution, diminishing access of the poor to public transportation services, oil dependence, etc. are among the most challenging problems to which Iranian cities are exposed in the field of urban transportation in recent years, and air pollution due to urban transportation has become obvious in Iran and is becoming much more problematic due to poor management strategies. This weakness can be discussed both in urban management and fuel management sector. Although, different strategies have been speculated in order to tackle the problems resulted from urban transportation especially air pollution in metropolitan areas of the country, the acceptable result seems to be far beyond achievable. Since any approach to sustainable development in Iran will be hindered by air pollution-related problems arising from deficiencies of urban transportation system, new approaches and strategies must be speculated. In this paper the intention is to analyze deficiencies of urban transportation system and the transport-related air pollution in Iran and discuss the strategies applied to solve the problem.

Paper presenter: Farzaneh Hadafi and Mir Saeed Moosavi (Faculty Member, Islamic Azad University, Heris Branch and Tabriz Branch), “Modernity and Its Role in Transformation of Urban Space in Iran Case Study: Urban Spaces of Tabriz”
Introduction of modernity to Iran, like most of other nations, is considered a multidimensional phenomenon including political as well as socio-cultural dimensions influencing all aspects of life and after almost a decade, its impact on art, architecture and urban design became obvious. From an urban point of view, adoption of modernity in Iran and its influence on physical structure of cities and urban spaces can be discussed in two major categories. First, introduction of automobile into urban life led to structural, functional and dimensional changes in streets and passageways to accommodate the new or so-called modern urban life and second, construction of new buildings with new and unprecedented functions such as bank, university, municipality, railway station and etc. led to creation of unique townscape which was an unplanned combination of traditional patterns with modern ones. This change and combination happened in such a fast pace that disabled the society to upgrade the old concepts and patterns or even become compatible with new circumstances leading to diverse unprecedented challenges in urban life. In this paper, different aspects of modernization in Iran and its impacts on physical and functional characteristics of urban space will be introduced and analyzed. The focus of the paper will be on urban spaces of Tabriz, a city in northwest of Iran.

Paper presenter: Fakhri Haghani (Professor/Instructor, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, USA), “Coffee Shops in Tehran”
When we think about contemporary history, culture, and people of Iran, material products such as literature, film and music take a primary notion in our scholarly studies. In that sense it is the material rather than the social “product” that constructs Iran’s contemporary history and people. In this paper, I intend to use a different methodological approach to the study of contemporary history and culture of Iran by exploring the productive activity of a social space such as coffee shops in Tehran. This perspective, departed from the theory of space and its multi-dimensional meanings and representations developed by Henri Lefebvre and Marcel de Certeau, will assist us to address the questions of identity, civil society, public sphere, and the state in contemporary Iran. Coffee shops in Tehran as representations of critical juncture of Iranian society are able to lead us to the study of the space not only in its ability and power to shape action and social relations but also as a product of social relations and practices in the society of Iran. Coffee shops in Tehran, for example, are particularly significant for what they convey about the interactions between the Islamic state and its citizenry. Formation of youth (in particular female) counterculture, Islamist elites, feminist activism, students collective subculture, outlawed intellectual and artistic cosmopolitanism, female-dominated business ownerships, and ethnic and religious negotiations are a few embodied practices both products and producers of the coffee shops, a social space incorporating both mental space and physical space in Iran. In that sense, coffee shops, as a social space, operate as a channel for communications about the formation of individual and collective identities and citizenries which struggle to mediate with state’s regulatory pressures in Iran. Study of these embodied practices also enables us to develop a new perspective on the concept of public versus private in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Literally the only place, beside home, to bring together individuals from opposite sex to mingle together, coffee shops in Tehran transcend the idea of double life, the birouni and androuni, of the public and the private thoughts, and of the personal and political spheres. Interviews, films, photographs, primary historical documents, and art products will form the body of documents I will use to support my thesis in this paper.