What are the Iranians wishing for? Queer transnational solidarity in revolutionary Iran
(2018) Signs, 43 (4), pp. 955-978.
This article explores the role of desire in Iran’s revolutionary movement. In a series of essays on the 1979 revolution, Michel Foucault asked, “What are the Iranians dreaming about?” This article takes up this question to consider the place of dreams in the formation of revolutionary subjects who find themselves displaced and marginalized within the social fabric. I argue that Foucault’s “repressive hypothesis,” which he developed as he wrote about the uprising in Iran, encourages us to read Islam not as a repressive force but as a site of desire that animated anti-imperialist political action in Iran. I enter this conversation though the audiovisual archives of North American feminists Kate Millett and Sophie Keir, who traveled to Iran in 1979 as a gesture of feminist solidarity. While their archive documents their own alienation, displacement, and eventual expulsion from Iran, it nonetheless provides a view of transnational homosocial strategies that enabled feminist resistance to gendered oppression in Iran. I revisit this failed historical moment of global sisterhood, and Muslim dreaming, to ask if there is a critical agency in desiring that can be used by displaced subjects to create new social movements.