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‘Whose Liberation? Iranian Popular Music and the Fetishisation of Resistance’

Nooshin, L. (2017). ‘Whose Liberation? Iranian Popular Music and the Fetishisation of Resistance’. Popular Communication, 15(3), pp. 163-191. doi: 10.1080/15405702.2017.1328601


This article explores a number of issues concerning the representation of Iranian popular music outside Iran, and specifically the somewhat romanticized discourses of ‘resistance’ and ‘freedom’ which have tended to characterise both journalistic and scholarly writings. The article discusses a number of examples, but focuses primarily on the case of the music video ‘Happy in Tehran’, which was posted on YouTube in 2014 and which challenged certain local cultural and legal boundaries on behaviour in public space. As a result, those responsible for the video were arrested, prompting an outcry, both within Iran and internationally; they were released soon after and eventually received suspended sentences. The article discusses the ways in which the ‘Happy in Tehran’ incident was reported in the media outside Iran and offers alternative readings of the video and its meanings. Ultimately, the article considers how such reductionist views feed into wider regimes of orientalist representation and asks whose agenda such fetishisation of resistance serves.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Popular Communication, on 17 July 2017, available online:
Publisher Keywords: Iranian popular music; resistance discourses; orientalisng; representation; discourses of resistance; ‘Happy in Tehran’
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DS Asia
M Music and Books on Music
Departments: School of Communication & Creativity > Performing Arts > Music
Text - Accepted Version
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