Blake Atwood: The Labor of Underground Video Dealers in Iran

/ University of Toronto Elahé Omidyar Mir-Djalali Institute of Iranian Studies


Blake Atwood


March 5, 2021

The 15th episode of Parse is an excerpt from a talk given by Blake Atwood where he discusses the vibrant video-based underground movie culture that developed in Iran through the 1980s and 1990s when videocassettes were officially banned in Iran. Atwood argues that post-revolutionary Iranian video dealers were cultural labourers, even as they worked informally outside the bounds of state and corporate regulation.

Atwood is an Associate Professor of Media Studies and Chair of the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Media Studies at the American University of Beirut. His research explores the intersection of culture, politics, and technology in the Middle East. He is particularly interested in informal media economies, creative labour, and media history. He is the author of Underground: The Secret Life of Videocassettes in Iran (2021) and Reform Cinema in Iran: Film and Political Change in the Islamic Republic (2016).