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09.00  Heritage Activism and Mass Media in Iran

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9:00, Monday 6 Jun 2016 (30 minutes)

This paper will build on and develop my previous work on heritage activism (Mozaffari 2015 and in press). I will examine instances of the representation of heritage activism in mass media in Iran in search of recurring themes or leitmotifs in communications between heritage activists and their audiences; ordinary citizens, but also powerful players such as politicians, heads of institutions and others in positions of power. Following James Jasper’s ideas in contentious politics, the starting point of this paper is that heritage is contested and transformed through strategic encounters among various players within divergent sets of institutional and un-institutional rules. These players have human impulses and emotions, as well as a rational agenda, acting and, advancing claims and counterclaims through strategic actions in various arenas. All of these can and do change in reaction to historical and other contextual circumstances, not least through actions of players. 

In short, the contestation of heritage may be explained through activism and “contentious politics.” Media forms an integral part of any repertoire of contention (to use Tilly’s term) and heritage activism is no exception. Heritage is negotiated through and across boundaries of power, and through these media statements it is possible to trace contentious politics and negotiation taking place in relation to heritage. A close reading of these instances in their context is indexical of the direction and some of the major characteristics of heritage activism. The material for this paper is gathered from activist websites, blogs, and media pronouncements. In analyzing these anecdotes, the paper will ask: How is the concept of heritage formed through these pronouncements? What are the characteristics of heritage as seen through these pronouncements and how are they evolving through time?

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