Hidden Behind the Curtains of Inequality in Tehran

Reading Documents on Healthcare Marketing Found in a Trash Can by Garbologists


  • Leila Papoli-Yazdi Garbonomix AB
  • Mahsa Sabaghi University of Science and Culture




female workers, garbology, inequality, marketers, private healthcare system, Tehran


In 2018, during a garbology project in Tehran, a bundle of documents was found in a waste container in a middle-class district. The papers included the daily reports of two marketers working in the private healthcare system as well as some documents listing the salaries of private laboratory staff.

As most marketers in the private healthcare system in Iran are young females, the documents indicate how the employment policy of the government has impacted the lives and career paths of educated women, so that they now must work long hours under temporary contracts. The documents also reveal some of the mechanisms of the private system, such as arrangements between physicians and private labs, and expose the complications of marketers’ daily living. In this article, the authors examine the documents and garbage bags attributed to single working women, in order to portray the everyday lives of these female marketers.

Author Biographies

  • Leila Papoli-Yazdi, Garbonomix AB

    Leila Papoli-Yazdi is a garbologist and archaeologist of the contemporary past. In 2003 she focused on the disaster archaeology of Bam, a city destroyed by an earthquake. She has also directed projects in Pakistan, Kuwait, Iran and Sweden. The main themes of her research are garbage-making behaviors, poverty, discrimination and social change. 

  • Mahsa Sabaghi, University of Science and Culture

    Mahsa Sabaghi is a cultural studies graduate from the Science and Culture University in Tehran, Iran. For her master’s thesis, she researched virginity challenges of Iranian women. Her research interests include poverty, inequality, power and women’s issues.


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Research Article

How to Cite

Papoli-Yazdi, L., & Sabaghi, M. (2024). Hidden Behind the Curtains of Inequality in Tehran: Reading Documents on Healthcare Marketing Found in a Trash Can by Garbologists. Journal of Contemporary Archaeology, 10(2), 211-228. https://doi.org/10.1558/jca.23507