A Study of the Hegemonic Potentials of Iranian Teachers’ Collective Activism (1920-2023)




Rahmati, Hossein

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The Iranian Teachers’ Movement (ITM) is socially and politically one of most important groups and professional associations in contemporary Iran, having its roots in the foundation of modern education originating under the Pahlavi Dynasty (1925-1979). Under severe suppression by both monarchial and Islamic regimes, it has nonetheless grown into a formidable social and political force. The movement was born out of a teachers’ protest in 1961 before slipping into a hiatus, until its revival with rich political imagination, as an independent association following the 1979 Revolution. The radical ideas of the first generation of teachers’ organic intellectuals, however, could not be realized due to the severe crackdown on all opposition in the1980s. The movement gradually and incrementally grew back in the 1990s but in a rather fragmented way. The idea of an independent teachers’ association or union was revived at this time by the second generation of teachers’ organic intellectuals of the early 2000s, known as the “Chalk-holding Teachers” and by establishing the teachers’ “guild centers” in various cities. In 2010, the third generation of the teachers’ organic intellectuals, called the “Justice-seeking Teachers”, turned the ITM into a formidable hegemonic power by restructuring the teachers’ discourse based on free education and children’s rights in the context of neoliberal cutbacks to public education. The revolutionary uprising of “Woman, Life, Freedom” in 2022 compelled the ITM to confront a historic question, “What is the moral and historical responsibility of teachers in response to this popular uprising?” and “how can the ITM make the diverse demands of participants in the Woman, Life, Freedom movement its own?” This thesis explores hegemonic potentials of ITM through historical and empirical research that is analytically enriched through the theory of hegemony by Antonio Gramsci.



organic intellectuals, Chalk-holding Teachers, Justice-seeking Teachers, subaltern-centered pedagogy, teachers’ potentially hegemonic activism