Zanan TV launches in the heart of Occupy Wall Street


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Mahboubeh Abbasgholizadeh

1 December 2011


In this short report from October 2011, founder and director of Zanan TV, Mahboubeh Abbasgholizadeh, announces the launch of Zanan TV from the heart of the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York City’s Zuccotti Park. Abbasgholizadeh explains why the alternative space created by the OWS movement is the perfect arena in which to introduce Zanan TV as an alternative, activist-driven media outlet for women’s movement and pro-democracy advocates inside and outside of Iran.

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Read a partial transcript of the video below:

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Mahboubeh Abbasgholizadeh: Sir, will you allow me to come and introduce myself and to introduce ZananTV here? Will you lend me your chair for 5 minutes?

MA: (sits) You’ve come here to occupy this space and now I’ve come to occupy your space.

MA alone to the camera : I’ve come here because I feel that this is the best place to launch ZananTV and to announce the kickoff of this station as an alternative, visual outlet in cyberspace. I felt that Occupy Wall Street was the perfect arena in which to announce our presence.

MA (continues): One reason to announce our launch here is to emphasize that ZananTV considers itself a successor to the sites of various, preceding women’s movements. In particular, we follow in the steps of media outlets begun in recent years such as Zanan’eh Iran (Women of Iran) and the Feminist Tribune, and then sites that followed those, including Change for Equality, Maydaan’eh Zanan (Women’s Arena), the School of Feminism, and Law for an Equal Family. Truly, these sites were platforms, environments in which various women’s actions and reactions could be organized and generate dialogue. To that extent, these sites were able to greatly influence the Iranian Democratic movement.

ZananTV is a successor to these sites because it is also a part of the women’s movement. Our hope is that as a visual extension of the women’s movement, ZananTV can create a space for the strengthening and enriching of ongoing debates and can incorporate existing exchanges as well as consolidate communication within and around pro-Democracy advocacy in various groups and active campaigns. We also seek to develop relationships between transnational action groups, such as the Occupy Wall Street movements in the U.S. and Europe, and dynamic contemporary movements inside Iran.

MA: We have endeavored for a year to get ZananTV organized, to establish its internet base, to build our website, to offer a concept and a vision for an alternative media outlet for women, and then to pinpoint the theoretical or technical journalistic framework. So, it took a while. We will gradually explain and demonstrate these facets and functionalities in upcoming programs.

MA: There are many similarities between our work and the virtual networks of Occupy Wall Street in the U.S. and the various areas they occupy in different cities. In the Occupy Wall Street movement, Americans or Europeans or anyone who wants to state their demands show up in an urban area and occupy that space. Multifarious groups gather and create a base camp. They talk amongst themselves and discuss their issues. Each person has their own sort of tent, each person has their own claim, each party comes and creates their own agenda and consolidates their teamwork, and then they begin building a movement. Such folks are called ‘movement-makers’ here.

MA: Both the physical, urban spaces and the virtual spaces where pro-democracy advocates gather—especially activists who were involved in the women’s movement begun many years ago—are similar in terms of social networking apparatus. And if a space doesn’t exist, whether that space is a structure or an institution, then people cannot assemble, they cannot state their issues, they cannot generate dialogue, and they cannot produce content. Therefore, there must be an arena where groups can collaborate and make their voices heard.

I’m here and want to launch ZananTV from here, announcing that after a full year of hard work this network is going to begin programming, because of the affinity between the production of alternative and virtual arenas for us Iranians and the production of the arena existing in this urban setting and the Occupy Movement in America.

MA: ZananTV is an alternative, citizens’ media outlet. All of the content it produces will involve the participation of civilians and the wider community. Women’s rights activists or pro-democracy advocates will also be involved in producing programming. Without your help as the Iranian civilian community both inside and outside Iran, ZananTV cannot proceed to do what it has set out to do because it is by its very nature a citizens’ media outlet. The films it presents are citizen films and alternative films.

MA: Another important facet of ZananTV is its analysis of the margins. If we plan to broach the topic of ‘the alternative,’ our observations of the marginalized are extremely important. In other words, the way we hope to investigate women’s issues, the human condition and, more generally, human rights issues and democracy, is something rarely found in the mainstream media. We seek to defend these observations and, through the lens of the camera, discover and foster them.