Rumor as Political Communication in Modern Iran with Pedram Partovi

//On April 10, 2013, CGCS presented a seminar with Dr. Pedram Partovi

In this talk, Dr. Pedram Partovi will consider the place of rumor in recent Iranian history. In general, scholars have associated the work of rumor with  pre-modern societies – before the emergence of national ideologies or  mass political organization (with the mass media contributing to these  phenomena). However, rumor has held a vital role in political  communication and mobilization in modern Iran. Some attribute  the rumor’s prominence in Iran to an “underdeveloped” political  culture.

Dr. Partovi argues that this dependence on rumor can be linked to the prevalence of authoritarian political systems in Iran since before the Second World War – a situation that development experts and Western leaders had initially accepted and encouraged. Thus, the public has been largely dependent on rumors for stories of local  and national concern considered unfit for print or broadcast.  Frequently, these rumors are then reported in the press and on state  broadcasts.  It is in part through this inversion of the  news process that the general public has been drawn into national politics.

Dr. Partovi examines the work of rumors and their media representations during four critical events of the past thirty years –  the Islamic revolution of 1978-1979, the death and succession of  Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989, the 1999 student revolts, and the 2009  post-election crisis.


Dr. Pedram Partovi is an Assistant Professor for the Department of History at American University. His research interests focus on the ways in which pre-modern social practices and institutions are reworked through the mass media to make sense of the present in Iran and wider Persianate world.


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