“Long Live a Sovereign and Self-Sufficient Iran”: LaFayette Park and Bethesda, Maryland, as Sites of Iranian Diasporic Racialization and Resistance, 1978–1988

Wednesday, December 31, 1969, 7:00 PM - 7:00 PM

Type: Single Paper

Tags: Immigration and Internal Migration; Nationalism and Transnationalism; Race


The relationship between urban space and sites of protest marks a discussion in which many scholars such as Laura Pulido have shed light on the emergence of racialization and radical politics in 1960s and 1970s southern California. Building off of the relationship Pulido traces between the racialization embedded within the space of Los Angeles and the development of radical politics among various minoritized populations, this paper seeks to explore LaFayette Park, Washington D.C., and Bethesda, Maryland, as sites for two simultaneous processes after the Iranian Revolution: first, the practiced racialization and criminalization of Iranians in the United States, and, second, the articulation of communities of resistance within the diaspora. The postrevolutionary protests in LaFayette Park, I argue, occurred when the racialization of Iranians in America was the most salient in the 20th century. In particular, I examine the Iran Freedom Foundation, an anti-Khomeini political organization, and the Iranian Students Association, a radical Marxist organization, as they articulate a national and racial identity by claiming whiteness and brownness, respectively, through practices of protest in LaFayette Park and community formation in Bethesda. Through the use of archival documents from the Hoover Institution and the National Archives, this paper argues that these spaces in the Washington, D.C., area were crucial to the formation and factionalism of the Iranian diasporic community, in the face of external threat and criminalization by U.S. institutions and private citizens alike.

Session Participants

Presenter: Ida Yalzadeh, Brown University