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Underground: The Secret Life of Videocassettes in Iran
April 29, 2022 @ 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm EDT
Blake Atwood American University of Beirut Kaveh Askari Michigan State University Golbarg Rekabtalaei Seton Hall University
For over a decade, videocassettes were officially banned in Iran. But even analog media technologies like the videocassette are surprisingly difficult to control. Rather than curtain the circulation of videocassettes, the ban inspired a vibrant video-based movie culture that operated at the margins of state regulation. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, ordinary Iranians took up the work of copying and distributing movies on video, as the informal circulation of videocassettes stretched to almost every imaginable corner of the country. Based on a corpus of oral history interviews, Underground tells this story in all its trials and tribulations: the harsh regulatory policies that created such an underworld; the video dealers who broke the law to establish elaborate home-delivery services; the intimate connections that people formed with videocassettes and with each other; and the lengths that everyday Iranians went to access cinema at a time of profound political and social change.