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An inside look at young Iranians navigating poverty and stigma in a time of crisis 

Crippling sanctions, inflation, and unemployment have increasingly burdened young people in the Islamic Republic of Iran. In Coming of Age in Iran, Manata Hashemi takes us inside the lives of poor Iranian youth, showing how these young men and women face their future prospects.

Drawing on first-hand accounts, Hashemi follows their stories, one by one, as they struggle to climb up the proverbial ladder of success. Based on years of ethnographic research among these youth in their homes, workspaces, and places of leisure, Hashemi shows how public judgments can give rise to meaningful changes for some while making it harder for others to escape poverty. Ultimately, Hashemi sheds light on the pressures these young men and women face, showing how many choose to comply with—rather than resist—social norms in their pursuit of status and belonging.

Coming of Age in Iran tells the unprecedented story of how Iran’s young and struggling attempt to extend dignity and alleviate misery, illuminating the promises—and limits—of finding one’s place during a time of profound uncertainty.

REVIEWS

Diane Singerman, author of Cairo Contested: Governance, Urban Space, and Global Modernity"What does it mean to be young, poor, and aspirational in Iran? In this rich ethnography, Manata Hashemi answers by describing how young people ‘perform’ upward mobility, convey moral virtue and largely obey dominant social and cultural norms. This nuanced book offers a different picture of Iranian youth: conformists rather than rebels, they are intent on maintaining their dignity as they negotiate their precarious circumstances."  

Norma Claire Moruzzi, author of Speaking through the Mask: Hannah Arendt and the Politics of Social Identity"Manata Hashemi’s Coming of Age in Iran is a fascinating and timely study of working class youth negotiating the difficult conditions of their work, status, and self-respect. Hashemi combines a keen attention to gender and class as well as to the details of local and regional identity, in Tehran and beyond. Understanding themselves as modern individuals who must make their way in a world of limited economic opportunities, dilute religiosity, and faded revolutionary dreams, Hashemi shows how these young men and women save face and find dignity, publicly performing community norms of accommodation while privately searching for the elusive goal of individual opportunity."

American Journal of Sociology: "Coming of Age in Iran is a fascinating account of the lives of lower-income Iranian youths in Iran. . . a vital contribution to scholarship on Iranian studies, youth studies, poverty, and social marginalization and resistance."

Iranian Studies"The stories presented in the book are a thought-provoking invitation to reassess the value of shifting and evolving subjectivities for understanding broader social transformations."

Social Forces: "Manata Hashemi is an astute observer who provides readers a clear understanding of youth in Iran . . . a significant contribution to ethnographic and sociology scholarship."

International Journal of Middle East Studies: "A rich book, rare in its attention to life outside the capital and the circles of the elite and middle class. Hashemi's lucid writing lends itself well to reading by academics as well as educated lay readers, especially those looking for a fuller picture of contemporary Iran that makes sense of much that is often hastily explained through the tired lens of contradictory stereotypes."

Middle East Journal: "Hashemi's research and insights shed a great deal of light on a tapestry of cultures, customs, and evolving moral frameworks within the context of youth culture."