American Ethnological Society
Oral Presentation Session
The media producers of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) have spent the past decade building new strategies to garner support for the revolutionary state. Integral to these efforts is a strategy of dissimulation—in other words, making media that audiences would consume without realizing it was produced by the state. In the new media environment, digital technologies have allowed these state producers to create “independent” internet television channels; produce viral videos under the auspices of “citizen journalism”; and launch vast Instagram campaigns with nationalistic messages about Iran’s military role in Syria. But their work does not exist in a vacuum—they act and react to the “maximum pressure” campaign from the Trump administration, as well as campaigns backed by Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, which all play out largely in the digital world. In this political and digital environment, Iran’s IRGC media producers must not only persuade a domestic audience of its wars abroad through messages heavy in nationalism; but it must also attempt to counter strong campaigns of regional and international pressure. This paper draws from ethnographic fieldwork with cultural producers of the IRGC over a ten-year period.