Urban Politics in Iran’s Contemporary History (1921-1941) with an Emphasis on Public Spaces of Tehran

Document Type : Research Article



Urban politics in Iran’s contemporary history is considered as a groundbreaking subject and at the same time an introduction to a new era in Iran’s history of urban development.  The role of urban politics is particularly important when considering its role in the development of public spaces.  Developments that pertain to public spaces eventually manifested themselves as a pattern for future developments 1921-1941. The present research is meant to look for an answer for the following question: “How has been the urban politics at the current juncture with regards to public spaces?”         Researches carried out over Iran’s contemporary history mostly focused over political issues and less addressed social issues.   This is while such researches could help answer a certain share of Iran’s needs like defining the identity of the Iranian society.   Also, such researches can help the designers and managers of urban politics and particularly those in charge of the development of public spaces – which is already considered as a vital need in the social life of any nation.        The present study is based on the following hypothesis: "The policies of the Iranian government from 1921 to 1941 were based on the need to create a significant change in people’s life and also to revolutionize the political, social and economic aspects of the Iranian society.  This eventually led to the emergence of new public spaces in Iranian cities which reflected the above changes." The policies of the government and the measures that were taken with regards to the urban management during the above period were counterproductive from the viewpoint of public interests. Those measures and polices had prepared the public opinion for a shift from the underdeveloped city infrastructures that had remained unchanged from the Qajar period due to the poor performance of those in power.  The issue of underdevelopment of the Iranian society was effectively exploited by the officials serving in the administration of the Pahlavid dynasties to promote a platform of development and modernization.  However, the deficiencies pertaining to the underdevelopment of city structures that had remained from the Qajar period did not justify all measures. Rather, the necessary step that needed to be taken was to remove those deficiencies in city structures by considering certain rules and regulations.   This needed to be done in such a way as to protect the common culture of urban economy and the tradition of Persian urbanization which were based on the mentality and social values of Iranians developed within the course of an ancient civilization.   Therefore, efforts taken by officials during the First Pahlavid period (1921-1941) which were mostly based on imitating the West in the name of modernization and renovation without considering the opinions of the real representatives of the people prepared the ground for the country to quit a crisis and plunge into another crisis.