The Mothers’ Paradise: Women-Only Parks and the Dynamics of State Power in the Islamic Republic of Iran
Abstract

ABSTRACT:

Despite Iran’s geopolitical importance and mounting global concerns over its domestic and international practices, the state and its diverse mechanisms of rule have been largely neglected in mainstream sociology. To understand the state’s shifting modality of power between its 1979 establishment and 2009, this paper analyzes the development of women-only parks as a major site of gender segregation. Offering a thorough account of the formation of the first women-only park in Tehran—the Mothers’ Paradise—I contend that conceiving of gender segregation as a state project of Islamic dimensions overlooks significant shifts in state power from prohibition to production. I explore how the Islamic Republic of Iran, which thirty years ago considered women’s outdoor exercise a problem, or even un-Islamic, now promotes it as a solution to women’s health problems.