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Title: Historical gardens in transition in 20th century Iran : a critical analysis of garden conservation
Author: Mahdizadeh, Sara
ISNI:       0000 0004 5349 1034
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2014
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While Iran is considered by many to be the land of the earliest recorded gardens, during the 20th century many of its historical gardens were deliberately destroyed, while others were inadequately conserved or remain in a state of dereliction and suffer continued decline. In contrast to current literature that generally studies Iranian historical gardens as physical structures under the rubric of 'Persian Gardens', this study integrates the changes in different dimensions of historical gardens to capture their plight in 20th century Iran. It aims to provide a deeper understanding of how political shifts before and after the Islamic Revolution of 1979 have shaped various approaches towards historical gardens, and the ways in which these attitudes have affected or been reflected in the material, social, and symbolic dimensions of Iranian historical gardens. It will analyse the key factors shaping the diverse approaches and interests, as well as the outcomes of these on the life of such gardens, in order to provide more appropriate recommendations regarding garden conservation in Iran. To this end, this thesis employed an in-depth case study strategy. The selected case studies are: Golestan Royal garden in Tehran; the gardens of the nobility in Shiraz; and the Qadamgah tomb garden near Neyshabour. Each of these cases highlights a particular aspect of garden treatment. All of the case studies pursue a consistent line in order to trace the different approaches and changes (mainly challenges brought by the changing political climate) to various dimensions of those gardens and the ways of garden conservation more broadly. Through the interpretation of socio-political events, categorising the wide and varied sources of information to support these case studies, documentation of overall changes has been done chronologically through a close reading of each case study garden. Drawing attention to how three examples of gardens have been affected differently, this research provides an original contribution to the knowledge of how the concepts of cultural heritage, ideology and religion have an impact on various dimensions of historical gardens in 20th century Iran. Based on the results derived from the analysis of case studies, this research argues that in order for gardens to find ways to continue as vibrant and 'living heritage', the approach adapted to conservation should firstly move beyond the traditional museum-like approach and material restoration. Conserving the twin dimensions of the physical and social aspects could offer a more consistent and resilient platform for the process of identity construction, engaging the public much more in the life of gardens. Secondly, it suggests that both restricted/rigid and flexible approaches, both the bottom-up needs of the people and the top-down tendencies of the authorities, could be compatible. These provide useful points of reference regarding practical ways for addressing the continuity of the material and social life of historical gardens.
Supervisor: Walker, Stephen Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available