informal settlements in tehran

18 01 2009

[by SR] I am reading a book by a sociology professor about “informal settlements” in Tehran.  It talks about the history and activities of slum dwellers and squatters, hashiehneshinan (حاشیه نشینان), and groups settling in shanty towns (like halabiabad – حلبی آباد) and occupying vacant buildings, and/or informal settlements.  The book is Street Politics: Poor People’s Movements in Iran by Asef Bayat (Columbia University Press, 1997), who interestingly grew up in the informal settlements he writes about.  The book gets into concepts well beyond my academic experience, but nevertheless provides a very readable account of historic, socioeconomic, etc factors surrounding informal settlements and the livelihoods of those occupying such areas.  I highly recommend even the intro and first chapter as an often neglected part of Iran’s modern history… almost a parallel history.  After seeing the movie Slumdog Millionaire (2008), I got the book because I was curious about similarities and differences between the informal settlements of Tehran and Mumbai.  I don’t have first hand exposure to either, but in my mind I always pictured them to be very different, with Tehran’s settlements a mellower, less vast, and more quiet or peaceful than what I saw, say, in Slumdog Millionaire.  Until I visit these places in Tehran, and perhaps not even then, I don’t think I’ll be aware of the many differences… but nevertheless I was/am curious as to what political, economic, social factors result in what we see in ‘informal settlements’ in Tehran vs. what we see in, say, Mumbai.

Other interesting reading on the topic:,M1
and see pdf links in:




6 responses

18 01 2009

oh God! i had planned to study some chapters of my textbook on social change social action tonite but it is time to go to bed now and i have been reading the links you shared instead of studying!
i really enjoyed them, i look at from the perspective of community development work and the possibility and complexity of asset based community development practice in such settings.
i think i am going to order the book on Amazon tomorrow. i am sure i will learn a lot reading it.
Thanks Shideh jaan! it’s great that you are back!

25 01 2009

Hi Shadi, thanks for the note! I’m new to the field of planning, but I find it fascinating (I came back to school this past August to really devote all my energy to it – it’s great!). I haven’t yet come across asset based community development – can you summarize in nutshell? Any good references?
thanks! (oh, and SR = shawhin… Shideh’s lesser half!)

2 02 2009

Hi Shadi joon,
sorry I’ve not been writing for a while. I’m finishing up school and things have been too hectic to write something meaningful, for myself at least. I’m going to check your blog now, as I haven’t done so in a long time and really miss reading your posts. Stay in touch.

10 02 2009

Hi Shideh and Shawhin,
i am so sorry for the late reply. I only stopped by to say hi and i saw your comments.
Shawhin, i assume by now you have searched it but in case you have not, asset based community development builds on communities’ and community members’ capacities and asset rather than a more orthodox needs based assessment. So you will be engaging people and having them take ownership of their communities. Funders, however, are not very keen on this approach. they prefer to see the needs in the format of a logic model in order to fund anything. Jim Diers is the Guru of asset based community approach and i have been to some of his workshops. I find the ABCD (asset based community development) very empowering, strength based and humane way to work with communities not for them. Like any other approach, it has its own downfalls but in my work, i have been trying to mix it with the relevant community development approaches.
have a look at this:
and this:

Dear Shideh,
life is a total madness on my side too. Bardia started to walk very soon and that alone is enough to keep me running all day! on top of my full time work, i am a full time student too and motherhood as you know is NOT a part time job! so go figure! I will graduate in April and hopefully will have a month off before I start my new job.

good luck with all the school work and hope to read more more from you.

1 03 2009

Just passing by.Btw, your website have great content!

Making Money $150 An Hour

20 04 2011
torkan borna

hello every one i just wanted to sak if any one have information of how can ı get the bokk of informal settlment that has some articles about tehram squatters.

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