Public Spaces of Tehran; Official Repression, Subversive Alternative
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The idea of democracy, in Western societies is inseparable from the public space. As an accessible space for all, public space provides a realm for everyday activities, social interaction, communication, and the practice of democracy. However, in a country under the governance of a totalitarian regime, concepts like open dialogue, freedom of expression and debate, democratic encounter, and free social interaction are often suppressed. In Tehran, authorities dominate the official public spaces of the city. Surveillance and repression are vividly imposed on the everyday lives of citizens as well as the public spaces of the city. Therefore, a constant defiance and struggle has become characteristic of the lives of most Tehrani citizens, especially the youth. Through this struggle, citizens of Tehran have re-appropriated ordinary spaces of the city into a stage for practicing everyday activities and their rights to the city. This thesis is a study of Tehran’s public spaces and the role of both citizens and authorities in their creation. Official public spaces of Tehran are constantly monitored and subjugated by authorities, whereas subversive spaces offer alternatives for citizens to practice what has been repressed in official spaces. The defiance and struggle for rights, as it is manifested in the spaces of the city, is documented.