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Iran Reframed: Anxieties of Power in the Islamic Republic

October 14, 2019

Narges Bajoghli, Assistant Professor of Middle East Studies, Johns Hopkins SAIS 
Moderated by Jason Rezaian, Washington Post columnist
Professor and author Narges Bajoghli began by reading an excerpt from her new book, Iran Reframed: Anxieties of Power in the Islamic Republic, an analysis of how movie producers of the Islamic Republic are shifting both the content and methodology of their productions to appeal to the younger generation. 
The discussion featured fascinating perspectives on the Iranian regime's use of media. Bajoghli studied the Revolutionary Guard and Basij paramilitary for over 10 years and completed a documentary film about their roles in the Islamic Republic. She was joined on stage by Washington Post columnist Jason Rezaian, who was accused of espionage and imprisoned in Iran for over a year. 
Bajoghli and Rezaian shared insights on how leaders of Iran envision the future of the revolution. Among the findings of the book is the self-consciousness of the movie producers, who worry their narratives have not gained traction in Iranian society. Despite holding actual political power, Bajoghli said, they lack the social and cultural capital to achieve their desired impact. In fact, Bajoghli noted their media is perceived as unsophisticated because it is not produced by the cosmopolitan elite—those with access to international contacts in the industry. 
Finally, Bajoghli and Rezaian discussed how religion has taken a backseat, while nationalism is moving front and center of themes treated in the latest movies. Bajoghli said this is driven by a resurgence of nationalism among youth and producers are aiming to use a connection to nationalism to bolster support for its political leaders. 
The conversation ended with questions from the audience regarding the impact of the book in Iran, the Iranian judicial system, and the cosmopolitan elite. 

Professor Narges Bajoghli discusses her new book on Iran with Washington Post columnist Jason Rezaian