What’s Happening in Iran?

We tend to forget, in America, that sometimes anti-American governments really do have support from local populations. Here is a timely book from Stanford, Iran Reframed: Anxieties of Power in the Islamic Republic, which explores the worldview of those Iranians who support the Islamic regime. The author is Narges Bajoghli of Johns Hopkins University. Here is the description from the Stanford website:

An inside look at what it means to be pro-regime in Iran, and the debates around the future of the Islamic Republic.

More than half of Iran’s citizens were not alive at the time of the 1979 Revolution. Now entering its fifth decade in power, the Iranian regime faces the paradox of any successful revolution: how to transmit the commitments of its political project to the next generation. New media ventures supported by the Islamic Republic attempt to win the hearts and minds of younger Iranians. Yet members of this new generation—whether dissidents or fundamentalists—are increasingly skeptical of these efforts.

Iran Reframed offers unprecedented access to those who wield power in Iran as they debate and define the future of the Republic. Over ten years, Narges Bajoghli met with men in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, Ansar Hezbollah, and Basij paramilitary organizations to investigate how their media producers developed strategies to court Iranian youth. Readers come to know these men—what the regime means to them and their anxieties about the future of their revolutionary project. Contestation over how to define the regime underlies all their efforts to communicate with the public. This book offers a multilayered story about what it means to be pro-regime in the Islamic Republic, challenging everything we think we know about Iran and revolution.

Amin Saikal on Iran

9780691175478_2This looks very interesting. Princeton University Press has just released Iran Rising: The Survival and Future of the Islamic Republic, by political scientist Amin Saikal (Australian National Assembly). Saikal explains how the Islamic Republic has survived numerous political, economic, and military crises since its founding 40 years ago–through, he says, the regime’s combination of religious fervor and hardball geopolitics. In the West, we tend of think of religious regimes like Iran’s as anachronisms that hold on, somehow, precariously, notwithstanding the march of liberalism. Perhaps they aren’t so precarious after all. Here’s the description from the Princeton website:

When Iranians overthrew their monarchy, rejecting a pro-Western shah in favor of an Islamic regime, many observers predicted that revolutionary turmoil would paralyze the country for decades to come. Yet forty years after the 1978–79 revolution, Iran has emerged as a critical player in the Middle East and the wider world, as demonstrated in part by the 2015 international nuclear agreement. In Iran Rising, renowned Iran specialist Amin Saikal describes how the country has managed to survive despite ongoing domestic struggles, Western sanctions, and countless other serious challenges.

Saikal explores Iran’s recent history, beginning with the revolution, which set in motion a number of developments, including war with Iraq, precarious relations with Arab neighbors, and hostilities with Israel and the United States. He highlights the regime’s agility as it navigated a complex relationship with Afghanistan during the Soviet invasion, survived the Gulf wars, and handled fallout from the Iraqi and Syrian crises. Such success, Saikal maintains, stems from a distinctive political order, comprising both a supreme Islamic leader and an elected president and national assembly, which can fuse religious and nationalist assertiveness with pragmatic policy actions at home and abroad.

But Iran’s accomplishments, including its nuclear development and ability to fight ISIS, have cost its people, who are desperately pressuring the ruling clerics for economic and social reforms—changes that might in turn influence the country’s foreign policy. Amid heightened global anxiety over alliances, terrorism, and nuclear threats, Iran Rising offers essential reading for understanding a country that, more than ever, is a force to watch.

Around the Web

Here are some important law-and-religion news stories from around the web:

Around the Web

Here are some important law-and-religion news stories from around the web:

Amanat, “Iran”

eb374ed35a2bef6b09d45e9c84080a42Looking back from the perspective of forty years, the Iranian Revolution appears more and more as a turning point in world history. The Shia political resurgence encouraged similar Islamist movements in the Sunni world as well; and those movements have shaped the politics of the Mideast, and the world, ever since. A new history from Yale University Press, Iran: A Modern History, discusses the Revolution and other aspects of Iranian culture and history since the 16th century. The author is Yale historian Abbas Amanat. Here’s a description from the Yale website:

A masterfully researched and compelling history of Iran from 1501 to 2009

This history of modern Iran is not a survey in the conventional sense but an ambitious exploration of the story of a nation. It offers a revealing look at how events, people, and institutions are shaped by currents that sometimes reach back hundreds of years. The book covers the complex history of the diverse societies and economies of Iran against the background of dynastic changes, revolutions, civil wars, foreign occupation, and the rise of the Islamic Republic.

Abbas Amanat combines chronological and thematic approaches, exploring events with lasting implications for modern Iran and the world. Drawing on diverse historical scholarship and emphasizing the twentieth century, he addresses debates about Iran’s culture and politics. Political history is the driving narrative force, given impetus by Amanat’s decades of research and study. He layers the book with discussions of literature, music, and the arts; ideology and religion; economy and society; and cultural identity and heritage.

Siavoshi, “Montazeri: The Life and Thought of Iran’s Revolutionary Ayatollah”

Next month, Cambridge University Press will release Montazeri: The Life and Thought of Iran’s Revolutionary Ayatollah by Sussan Siavoshi (Trinity University). The publisher’s description follows:

MontazeriBy the time of his death in 2009, the Grand Ayatollah Montazeri was lauded as the spiritual leader of the Green movement in Iran. Since the 1960s, when he supported Ayatollah Khomeini’s opposition to the Shah, Montazeri’s life reflected the crucial political shifts within Iran. In this book, Sussan Siavoshi presents the historical context as well as Montazeri’s own political and intellectual journey. Siavoshi highlights how Montazeri, originally a student of Khomeini became one of the key figures during the revolution of 1978–9. She furthermore analyses his subsequent writings, explaining how he went from trusted advisor to and nominated successor of Khomeini to an outspoken critic of the Islamic Republic. Examining Montazeri’s political thought and practice as well as the historical context, Siavoshi’s book is vital for those interested in post-revolutionary Iran and the phenomenon of political Islam.

Saffari, “Beyond Shariati”

This month, Cambridge University Press releases “Beyond Shariati: Modernity, Cosmopolitanism, and Islam in Iranian Political Thought,” by Siavash Saffari (Columbia University).  The publisher’s description follows: 

Ali Shariati (1933–77) has been called by many the ‘ideologue of the Iranian Revolution’. An inspiration to many of the revolutionary generation, Shariati’s 9781107164161.jpgcombination of Islamic political thought and left-leaning ideology continues to influence both in Iran and across the wider Muslim world. In this book, Siavash Saffari examines Shariati’s long-standing legacy, and how new readings of his works by contemporary ‘neo-Shariatis’ have contributed to a deconstruction of the false binaries of Islam and modernity, modernism and traditionalism. Saffari examines how, through their critique of Eurocentric metanarratives on the one hand and the essentialist conceptions of Islam on the other, Shariati and neo-Shariatis have carved out a new space in Islamic thought beyond the traps of Orientalism and Occidentalism. This unique perspective will hold great appeal to researchers of the politics and intellectual thought of post-revolutionary Iran and the greater Middle East.

De Nicola, “Women in Mongol Iran”

In February, the University of Edinburgh Press will release Women in Mongol Iran: The Khatuns, 1206-1335 by Bruno De Nicola (University of St. Andrews). The publisher’s description follows:

women-in-mongol-iranBruno De Nicola investigates the development of women’s status in the Mongol Empire from its original homeland in Mongolia up to the end of the Ilkhanate of Iran in 1335. Taking a thematic approach, the chapters show a coherent progression of this development and contextualise the evolution of the role of women in medieval Mongol society. The arrangement serves as a starting point from where to draw comparison with the status of Mongol women in the later period. Exploring patterns of continuity and transformation in the status of these women in different periods of the Mongol Empire as it expanded westwards into the Islamic world, the book offers a view on the transformation of a nomadic-shamanist society from its original homeland in Mongolia to its settlement in the mostly sedentary-Muslim Iran in the mid-13th century.

Mirsepassi, “Transnationalism in Iranian Political Thought”

In March, Cambridge University Press will release Transnationalism in Iranian Political Thought: The Life and Times of Ahmad Fardid by Ali Mirsepassi (New York University). The publisher’s description follows:

Transnationalism.jpgDuring the Iranian Revolution of 1978/9, the influence of public intellectuals was widespread. Many espoused a vision of Iran freed from the influences of ‘Westtoxification’, inspired by Heideggerian concepts of anti-Western nativism. By following the intellectual journey of the Iranian philosopher Ahmad Fardid, Ali Mirsepassi offers in this book an account of the rise of political Islam in modern Iran. Through his controversial persona and numerous public and private appearances before, during and particularly after the Revolution, Fardid popularised an Islamist vision militantly hostile to the modern world that remains a fundamental part of the political philosophy of the Islamic Republic to this day. By also bringing elements of Fardid’s post-revolutionary thought, as well as a critical analysis of Foucault’s writings on ‘the politics of spirituality’, Mirsepassi offers an essential read for all those studying the evolution of political thought and philosophy in modern Iran and beyond.

Ghamari-Tabrizi, “Foucault in Iran”

In August, the University of Minnesota Press will release “Foucault in Iran” by Behrooz Ghamari-Tabrizi (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign). The publisher’s description follows:

Focault in IranWere the thirteen essays Michel Foucault wrote in 1978–1979 endorsing the Iranian Revolution an aberration of his earlier work or an inevitable pitfall of his stance on Enlightenment rationality, as critics have long alleged? Behrooz Ghamari-Tabrizi argues that the critics are wrong. He declares that Foucault recognized that Iranians were at a threshold and were considering if it were possible to think of dignity, justice, and liberty outside the cognitive maps and principles of the European Enlightenment.

Foucault in Iran centers not only on the significance of the great thinker’s writings on the revolution but also on the profound mark the event left on his later lectures on ethics, spirituality, and fearless speech. Contemporary events since 9/11, the War on Terror, and the Arab Uprisings have made Foucault’s essays on the Iranian Revolution more relevant than ever. Ghamari-Tabrizi illustrates how Foucault saw in the revolution an instance of his antiteleological philosophy: here was an event that did not fit into the normative progressive discourses of history. What attracted him to the Iranian Revolution was precisely its ambiguity.

Theoretically sophisticated and empirically rich, this interdisciplinary work will spark a lively debate in its insistence that what informed Foucault’s writing was not an effort to understand Islamism but, rather, his conviction that Enlightenment rationality has not closed the gate of unknown possibilities for human societies.

%d bloggers like this: