We Are Iran: The Persian Blogs


365 pages
Contains Photos
ISBN 1-55192-871-X
DDC 955





Reviewed by Laila Abdalla

Laila Abdalla is an associate professor of English at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Washington, and former professor at McGill University.


Weblogging is very popular in Iran. As the authorities censor and shut
down mainstream media, the younger generation (about 70 percent of
Iran’s population is under 30 years old) has begun to use the
anonymous medium of virtual diaries to record its experiences and

We Are Iran is a compilation of Internet weblogs written by young
Iranian men and women. The blogs are organized by topic, ranging from
“Revolution, War and Dissent,” through “Virtually Unveiled
Women,” to “Virtual Media.” Each of these chapters has
subdivisions. In “Virtual Media,” for example, one finds “Salaam
Cinema” and “Elvis, Schubert and Celine Dion.” The blogs vary in
length from a handful of words to a couple of pages. Alavi has
translated them, and she provides some commentary as context.

The blogs are about the personal and the mundane, but they are also
about political issues. When the government-run media downplayed Shirin
Ebadi winning the Nobel Prize, the bloggers celebrated it. The blogs
show humour, pride, liberal thinking, intelligence, resistance to
religious oppression, and anger at political domination. What these
blogs finally demonstrate is that Iranian hegemony is not as entrenched
as it may overtly seem.

Reading these blogs is like reading a diary. One is moved by the
personal and intimate experiences (and indeed surprised by their sheer
volume), but exasperated by their sporadic and curtailed nature.
Alavi’s own prose is somewhat wooden, and occasionally the context she
provides is insufficient; too often she explicates the already overt
meaning of the messages rather than the references within them. In the
final analysis, the fact that these blogs exist is more meaningful than
many of the blogs themselves.


Alavi, Nasrin., “We Are Iran: The Persian Blogs,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 26, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/16497.