- Children without Childhood, Adults without Adulthood: Changing Conceptions of the Iranian Child in Postrevolutionary Iranian Textbooks (1979-2008)
- Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East
- Duke University Press
- Volume 32, Number 2, 2012
- pp. 339-360
- View Citation
- Additional Information
Malekzadeh's article traces the development of the social, religious, cultural, and political messages that have shaped the image of the child and childhood within postrevolutionary Farsi textbooks (grades 1-3) produced by the Islamic Republic of Iran over the past thirty years (1979-2008). More than just primers, Farsi textbooks serve as the foundation of the state's project to produce the New Islamic Citizen by providing young students with their first exposure to the ideology of the Revolution and the official values of the Islamic Republic. This article demonstrates that the content of Iran's postrevolutionary curriculum, as seen through the prism of the concept of childhood, has been highly politicized and historically contingent. Representations of childhood are absent from the post-1979 textbooks until the mid-1990s. Since 2003, Iran's curriculum has embraced childhood as a generalized experience, shared equally by Iranian children of all genders and backgrounds. At the same time, textbook authors attach particularistic qualities to the transition from childhood to adulthood, depicting the process of growing up as a distinctly gendered experience. The article concludes with a consideration of how social and economic structures—specifically Iran's marriage and labor markets—are artificially extending the experience of childhood. Faced with high rates of unemployment, more and more young Iranians are staying at home with their parents as they extend their education well into their twenties and thirties, trapped in a state of "waithood," a phenomenon that has done more to shape and refashion the contours of childhood than any of the textbooks produced during the postrevolutionary period.