Iranian Universities and Politics: Political Student Associations as a Camp

Document Type : Original Article


PhD of Cultural Policy, Iranian Institute for Social and Cultural Studies


This article deals with Iranian student political associations at universities. Iranian
universities, throughout their history, have played an important role in political
movements, and their most effective function is related to the triumph of the Islamic
Revolution in 1979. But after the Islamic Revolution, the university had to witness
a shift from its revolutionary role to a political one. In this functional shift, student
political associations were organized by a supervisory committee as the representation
of Islamic political discourse. Thus, inspired by the Agamben’s lexicon of camp,
student political associations can be regarded as a refugee camp (Ramadan, 2013, p.
146) in which political students are held and seen as emigrants who have immigrated
to the pole of politics. To study this, we explored three important universities in
Tehran with a significant political background. We interviewed political and nonpolitical
students, and conducted field observations as well. Consequently, student
political associations are monitored as a camp in which political students release their
energy. Also, political students use some parallel spaces, such as social networks or
spots close to universities, like parks, to come together and develop political plans.
Finally, pursuing ideal objectives, trying to affect others, and feeling a responsibility
are the motivations that make political associations acceptable for political students.