Migrations and social mobility in greater Tehran: from ethnic coexistence to political divisions?

Type Journal Article - Human mobility and multi-ethnic coexistence in Middle Eastern Urban societies1. Tehran Aleppo, Istanbul and Beirut.
Title Migrations and social mobility in greater Tehran: from ethnic coexistence to political divisions?
Volume 102
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2015
Page numbers 27-40
URL https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-01242641/document
Tehran is a new city in an old centralized empire. Shah Tahmasp, the Safavid ruler,
has built strong walls in 1554, in order to transform the small city into a royal
capital, but Esfahan became the centre of the new empire. For a long period of
time, Tehran remained a poor small city on the foothills of the Alborz Mountains,
unable to become the core of an economic and cultural region like Esfahan, Shiraz,
or Kerman. The real history of Tehran began in 1785, when the first Qajar ruler,
Agha Mohammad Khan Qajar decided to move its administration from Shiraz to this
city of the central plateau, far from the numerous strong regional powers and from
uncontrolled ethnic groups.1
Since those times, the building of the society and the culture of this young
capital city has been linked to the State, to the central government, and to the Iranian
national history. The city of Tehran had little social autonomy; the migrants from
the various provinces of the multiethnic Iranian empire, non-Muslim religious
minorities, and the members of the new middle class using the opportunities of this
rich oil country, were of course competing and sometimes opposed one another.
However the presence and the power of the central State has played an efficient role
in shaping the contemporary huge metropolis of Tehran, where more than twelve
millions are living without major sectarian or ethnic conflicts. The Islamic revolution
of 1979 has strengthened this dynamics of coexistence, in giving a leading role to
national political, social and ideological issues. Today, Tehran is a central place for
political conflicts. Is there any link between the ethnic and religious diversity of
Tehran and Iran, and the increasing political conflicts inside the modern Iranian state
and the large metropolis of Tehran?

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