Tehran’s Subway: Gender, Mobility, and the Adaptation of the ‘Proper’ Muslim Woman


Bagheri, Nazgol. 2019. “Tehran’s Subway: Gender, Mobility, and the Adaptation of the ‘Proper’ Muslim Woman.” Social & Cultural Geography 20 (3): 304–22.

Author: Nazgol Bagheri


Tehran’s subway, the most affordable means of public transportation in the city, offers a useful context to study the relationship between women’s spatial mobility, the construction of self, and social production of space. This study focuses on Line 1 of Tehran’s subway that connects Tehran’s Bala Shahr (Northern Tehran) and Paeen Shahr (Southern Tehran) neighborhoods. This study draws upon 46 semi-structured interviews with women who were using subway Line 1 in the fall and winter of 2012. The average hour-long interviews examine how women’s emotional states as well as their perceptions of self and space vary as they traverse the city on Line 1. Representing a cultural as well as a spatial transect through the city, the perceptions of women on subway’s Line 1 convey the repudiation of the state’s attempt to promote a singular Muslim female identity. The findings suggest that similar to women’s perception of space, their gendered identities are constantly changing through the enhanced mobility that is facilitated by Tehran’s subway system. In contrast to what is presumed in the West, with a simple change in their hijab style or make-up, Iranian women innovatively negotiate contrasting spaces.


Topics: Gender, Women, Infrastructure, Transportation Regions: MENA, Asia, Middle East Countries: Iran

Year: 2019

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