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September 23rd, 2004
Red Lines and Deadlines
Politics and the Press in Iran: Introduction

by Afshin Marashi

Press and politics in Iran have been intertwined from the very beginning of the country’s experiment with modernity. Newspapers and periodicals have served as important forums for Iranians to discuss fundamental questions of social, cultural, and political change. These debates and their historical consequences — including war, famine, foreign invasion, cultural change, and social and political revolution — have all been reflected in the pages of Iranian newspapers, magazines, and journals. As these debates have unfolded over the past two centuries, one thing has remained consistent: the relationship between the state and the press has been one of mutual antagonism, with the press, periodical literature, and other media acting as the voice of criticism and dissent within Iranian society, while the state — whatever its ideological character — has continued its efforts to censor and control those dissenting voices.

Afshin Marashi is an assistant professor in the Department of History at California State University, Sacramento.

Sources: Peter Avery, “Printing, The Press, and Literature in Modern Iran”, in Peter Avery, Gavin Hambly, and Charles Melville eds., THE CAMBRIDGE HISTORY OF IRAN, VOL. 7, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), pp. 815-869; Edward G. Browne, PRESS AND POETRY IN MODERN PERSIA, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1914); L.P. Elwell-Sutton, “The Iranian Press, 1941-1947″, in IRAN: JOURNAL OF THE BRITISH INSTITUTE OF PERSIAN STUDIES 8 (1968), pp. 65-104; Hamid Mowlana, “Journalism in Iran: A History and Interpretation”. Unpublished PhD dissertation, Northwestern University, 1963; Mohammad Sadr-Hashemi, TARIKH-E JARAYED VA MAJALAT-E IRAN (A HISTORY OF NEWSPAPERS AND MAGAZINES IN IRAN), 4 vols. (Isfahan, 1948); Annabelle Sreberny-Mohammadi and Ali Mohammadi, SMALL MEDIA, BIG REVOLUTION: COMMUNICATION, CULTURE, AND THE IRANIAN REVOLUTION, (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1994); “Pushing the Limits: Iran’s Islamic Revolution at Twenty”, MIDDLE EAST REPORT, NO. 212, Fall 1999.

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