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Westoxication and resistance: the politics of dance in Iran #dancingisnotacrime

Tazmini, Ghoncheh (2021) Westoxication and resistance: the politics of dance in Iran #dancingisnotacrime. Third World Quarterly, 42 (6). 1295 - 1313. ISSN 0143-6597

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Identification Number: 10.1080/01436597.2021.1886582


This study proposes an alternative analytical framework for the interpretation of the arrest of an Iranian teenage female social media star by regime authorities in May 2018. I argue that the regime’s reaction to the youngster’s dancing was a product of a complicated historical dialectic with the West, rather than an objection to dance as a performative category. While the Iranian regime may have inherited the predominantly negative perceptions of the solo female dancing body from the Pahlavi era, dancing is not a crime in post-revolutionary Iran. However, dance is ‘meaning in motion’, and it can be inscribed and re-inscribed with political, cultural and social markers–depending on the motives of the spectator. This paper argues that it was the meaning ascribed to the teen’s dancing by hardline authorities that led to her arrest, and not the act of dancing itself. By historicising and framing the arrest within the discourse of ‘Westoxication’, this study interprets the arrest as a form of state-centric cultural resistance. The site of cultural contestation, the youngster’s dancing body, became the discursive and ideological terrain on which the regime repudiated Western cultural norms in defence of its own post-revolutionary standards of decency and cultural authenticity.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2021 Global South Ltd
Divisions: Middle East Centre
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
J Political Science > JQ Political institutions Asia
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation Leisure
Date Deposited: 26 Mar 2021 17:48
Last Modified: 11 Jul 2024 21:48

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