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The transnational body of a female spy: negotiating alternatives in Tehran (Kan 11, 2020 - )

Research output: Contribution to conference - Without ISBN/ISSN Conference paperpeer-review

Publication date7/04/2021
<mark>Original language</mark>English
EventBAFTSS Annual Conference: : Time and the Body in Film, TV and Screen Studies - University of Southampton Centre for International Film Research (CIFR), Southampton, United Kingdom
Duration: 7/04/20219/04/2021
Conference number: 9


ConferenceBAFTSS Annual Conference:
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


The 21st century has seen a meaningful rejuvenation of the political thriller genre and ‘spy narratives’ informed by the aftermath of 9/11 and the new landscape of film and television production, dominated by global streaming platforms. These new political thrillers are marked by interconnectivity and transnationalism, both in their content and production contexts, by greater emphasis on contemporary geo-political concerns, and by seemingly new gender politics, subverting the hitherto masculine typification of the genre.
The new Israeli drama series Tehran (Kan 11, 2020 - ) that was bought recently by Apple TV, shares much of these characteristics and joins a secession of recent Israeli espionage thrillers that have been picked up by global streaming platforms and seen international success and critical acclaim; Fauda (2015-2020) being the most prominent example.
However, as this paper will seek to show, Tehran has taken the genre into new grounds of transnational exchange, primarily through its main protagonist - the undercover female Israeli agent Tamar. Focusing on the transnational body of the female spy, our paper situates the character of Tamar in the wider context of what Tasker has termed “the postfeminist female spy”, and moves to examine the ways in which her particular positionality as a first generation Israeli of Iranian heritage, sent to Iran on an undercover military mission, serves as a linchpin to the series’ overall exploration of contemporary Israeli-Iranian geo-political relations. The series, we would argue, subverts to a degree both the respective
national narratives and dominant representations by creating imaginary brief spaces of longing to renegotiate the past and for different futures.