'Knowledge as Resistance', Small Media's latest report launches on World Social Justice Day
In the summer of 2012, Small Media had the pleasure of working with a keen and dedicated young intern called James Marchant. James, a recent university graduate, contributed to a number of Small Media projects and also selected a research topic to work on with the support of Small Media’s research team. James chose to write about repression and resistance through a case study of the Baha’i Institute for Higher Education (BIHE). This report, an incredible insight into the travesty of educational exclusion and the resilience of Iran’s Baha’i community, is a remarkable piece of research from such a young scholar.
Since the 1979 Iranian Revolution, more than 10,000 Baha’is have been expelled from government and university jobs, thousands have been arrested and an estimated 200 Baha’i leaders have been killed. Despite belonging to a peaceful, independent world religion rooted in Islam, Baha’is are frequently arrested and imprisoned for ‘membership’ in what the clerics and the judiciary commonly refer to as a “deviant sect”. Baha’is are also excluded entirely from Iran’s standardised education system and denied their basic human right to education.
Through a wealth of first-hand testimonies from former BIHE staff, affiliated faculty and students, this report exposes the challenges faced by the Iranian Baha’i community and discusses the BIHE’s continued success in the face of such adversity, emphasising the Baha’i community’s self-organisational ethos and revealing that Iran’s exclusionary laws have not forced regression on the Baha’i community. Through James’ case study, we reveal a vibrant and organised community that has engaged energetically with technological innovation and constructed their own pillars of employment and education.