We lived in Tehran where we enjoyed a wide circle of cosmopolitan friends of many nationalities.
An inveterate snapper, I took a lot of photographs. These provide an interesting record of a unique period – 1978-1979 – when a population mobilised into revolution. There are an especially large number of images of women who played a significant role in the political mobilization. There is quite a lot of focus on the communicative means that people used to claim solidarity, mark events, mobilise others. In that sense, the Iranian Revolution prefigures some of the dynamics of the Arab Spring where people used social media in similar ways.
The revolutionary process in Iran became the focus of my doctoral studies at Columbia University and later a book, Small Media, Big Revolution, co-authored with Ali Mohammadi.
This served to ground my academic career in international communication. I taught first at Queens College, CUNY, New York. Then, on the retirement of Jim Halloran, I became the second head of the Centre for Mass Communication Research at the University of Leicester. Latterly, I founded – together with Mark Hobart – the Centre for Media and Film Studies (now called the Centre for Global Media and Communications) at SOAS, University of London, from where I have retired. I also helped to establish the Centre for Iranian Studies at SOAS and was its first chair.
Forty years on, I hope these images serve as a reminder of how the Iranian Revolution happened and what an important process it was, with enormous impact inside the country and outside. These images might also help make Iranians seem a little more familiar to Western eyes.
All the photographs are mine, except when I am myself in the frame! They were mainly taken with a Pentax and the film was developed in Tehran. The images have been scanned and digitized in London and are a mix of black and white and colour. They have not been tweaked or digitally enhanced.
Was this an intentional research or photographic project? The answer is no! I just like to take photographs. This is ‘my’ revolution, a record of where I went and what I saw during what was the most exciting year of my life. It is not even a record of the most important moments nor is it a complete record of ‘the’ revolution (whatever that might be). Selected photos have appeared in my published books and essays and I have used many in talks and conference presentations. Some have been used in other peoples’ works. They have never been collected together before. The photographs are clustered into stories. Just click to enlarge an image.
Where the subject is known to me, I have endeavoured to get their permission to use their image. If anyone has information about a photograph or even recognises themselves in a shot, please let me know. Some images are hard to pin down to a specific date or even location. Any help would be gratefully received: See the Contact page for details of how to find me.
Revolutions are times of great excitement, collective action and desire for a better future.
Here Ali and his brother look out on an open tract of land, imagining wonderful things.
We entered this revolution in hope.