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Accueil du site > Actualités > Séminaire « Rethinking the role of the state in urban development and planning of Middle Eastern Cities, the case of Tehran »


Séminaire

Séminaire « Rethinking the role of the state in urban development and planning of Middle Eastern Cities, the case of Tehran »

Intervention de Azadeh Mashayekhi

14 avril 2022

Jeudi 14 avril 2022, 14h00-16h00, MSH Val de Loire, salle 147, Tours

Azadeh Mashayekhi, lecturer à l’University College of London et chercheuse invitée à EMAM pour le mois d’avril nous présentera ses travaux autour de la thématique « Rethinking the role of the state in urban development and planning of Middle Eastern Cities, the case of Tehran »

Résumé

Within urban planning scholarship the predominant view of the urban politics of Middle Eastern cities conceives of the state as authoritarian and omnipotent, fully controlling the political-economic and socio-spatial changes in these cities. This paper uses the case of Tehran, the capital city of Iran, to reflect on this dominant view by interrogating the role of state institutions in relation to charitable revolutionary foundations [1] in shaping Tehran’s urban development and planning practices during the last four decades. The paper shows how the polarised political structure of Iran—which combines authoritarian and democratic practices, and where sovereignty is divided between elected executives and unelected ones (Shambayati, 2004) —has directly influenced the planning system and planning practices and, therefore, the pattern of Tehran’s urban planning and development. The case of Tehran illustrates the crucial involvement of charitable foundations and large holding companies in urban development projects, independent from the municipality and the central state. Furthermore the paper discusses that, the revolutionary foundations are not unique to Tehran—other Middle Eastern cities are facing a similar phenomenon. Hezbollah [2] and Solidere [3] in Lebanon, or Abdali investment company in Amman, are similar examples of developmental organisations with political and ideological agendas (Fawaz, 2009 ; Abu-Hamdi, 2017 ; Khirfan, et. al. 2017).

By interrogating the state power (central and local government) in producing Tehran’s urbanism, the findings of this paper raises a debate on unquestioned assumptions in planning theory about the ‘modern state’, its forms and its function, and its abilities and limitations to govern and shape a 21st century Middle Eastern city. The paper concludes by arguing that the 21st century challenges of urban governance and planning in Tehran and other cities of the region cannot be addressed without further critical research on the role of religious-political groups or any other developmental organisation with ide¬ological orientations in shaping urban spaces and spatial practices.

Abu-Hamdi, E. (2017). ‘The Processes of Neoliberal Governance and Urban Transformtions in Amman, Jordan’. In Khirfan L. (Ed.), Order and Disorder : Urban Governance and the Making of Middle Eastern Cities (pp. 132-154). Montreal ; Kingston ; London ; Chicago : McGill-Queen’s University Press.

Fawaz, M. (2009). Hezbollah as Urban planner ? Question to and from Planning Theory. Journal of Planning Theory 8(4) : 323-334.

Harb, M. 2008. Faith-based organizations as effective development partners ? Hezbollah and post-war reconstruction of Lebanon, in : G. Clarke and M. Jennings (Eds) Development, Civil Society and Faith-based Organizations : Bridging the Sacred and the Secular, pp. 214–239. New York : Palgrave Macmillan.

Karaman, O. 2013. Urban neoliberalism with Islamic characteristics. Urban Studies 50(16) : 3412–3427.

Khatam, A. 2015. Tehran Urban Reforms Between Two Revolutions : Development, Worlding Urbanism and Neoliberalism, (PhD dissertation), York University

Khirfan L. (2016) (ed.), Order and Disorder : Urban Governance and the Making of Middle Eastern Cities. Montreal ; Kingston ; London ; Chicago : McGill-Queen’s University Press.

Shambayati, H. (2004). A Tale of Two Mayors : Courts and Politics in Iran and Turkey. Middle East Studies 36, pp. 253–275.


[1] Revolutionary institutions (labelled ‘charitable foundations’) established by Ayatollah Khomeini and his supporters after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Neither private nor state-owned, these developmental institutions were perhaps best characterised as semi-public organisations, and many of the new foundations took control over the confiscated wealth and property of the royal family or the assets of well-known aristocrats and industrialists who had fled the country after the revolution. These charitable foundations became responsible for redistributing these assets and property among the poor, the working class, and state employees, promoting social and economic development and spreading revolutionary Islamic ideals across the country. They became very active mainly in the countryside where, at that time, nearly half the population resided. In the decades after the revolution, the foundations continuously evolved and developed, and played an important role in the socio-economic development of Iran. Among others, the Foundation of the Dispossessed (Bonyad Mostazafan), the Housing Foundation (Bonyad-e-Maskan), the Urban Land Organisation (Sazman-e-Zamin Shahri), and Construction Jihad (Jihad Sazandegi) each played a critical role in shaping rural and urban developments and in influencing urban planning practices, as well as urban land and housing policies.

[2] Hezbollah is a political (religious, Islamic) party and an organized military resistance movement that has been operating in Lebanon since 1982, its main motivation being resistance to Israeli occupation of the country (1978–2000) and its repeated incursions since then. For more on the ideology, practices and goals of the party, see Fawaz, M. (2009). Hezbollah as Urban planner ? Question to and from Planning Theory

[3] Solidere s.a.l. is a Lebanese joint-stock company in charge of planning and redeveloping Beirut Central District following the conclusion, in 1990, of the devastating Lebanese Civil War