Iran in Revolution: 1800-Present

Term: Fall 2009

Subject Code: GHIS

Course Number: 5119

By the time the Qajar dynasty established itself in Iran in 1779, Shi'ism had already secured its religious hegemony over Iran. The 18th and 19th centuries saw further evidence of its consolidation and institutionalization. How does the religious architecture of Shi'ism help explain the Constitutional Revolution of 1905-1911 and the success of the Islamic revolution in 1979 in the absence of a strong Islamic movement? Why did Iranians, clerical and lay, turn to a Western-inspired ideology in the heyday of early 20th century colonialism, only to turn completely against Westernization some 70 years later? This course studies social change in Iran during the past two centuries, focusing on the interaction of political thought with religious authority and cultural transformation, to suggest that the Islamic revolution of 1979 is better explained in the lexicon of revolutionary transformation than in that of religious resurgence or a revival of the past. Readings will include Bayat, Bulliet, Calhoun, Goldstone, Goodwin, Gorski, Khomeini, Mitchell, Moaddel, Owen, Skocpol.

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