[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:
and see pdf links in: http://www.ced.berkeley.edu/faculty/roy_ananya/#journals