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Iran’s Tide of History: Revolution, Counter-Revolution and After

6 hour course by Ramin Jahanbegloo (Jindal Global University)

  • Schedule: 19, 20 & 21 June, 2023 (9:00–11:00)

The Iranian Revolution of 1979 was a historical turning point in the crisis of modern politics in Iran. The revolution was unique for the surprise it created throughout the world: it lacked many of the customary causes of revolution — defeat at war, a financial crisis, peasant rebellion, or disgruntled military. It produced profound change at great speed and overthrew a regime which was thought to be heavily protected by a financed army and security services and protected by the Americans. The rise of political Islam in the course of the Iranian Revolution was not a historically pre-determined phenomenon, nor an accident. The crisis and decline of liberal institutions resulted in a political vacuum in Iran and provided an ideal opportunity for the Islamic forces to organize themselves and mobilize the population.

The regime derives its legitimacy from two main sources: Islam and the revolution. After four decades, the strength of both these sources has come down. In the past 44 years, the challenge to authoritarianism in Iranian society has translated into a culture of dissent among three main social groups: Women, youth, and intellectuals. Each of these three agents of dissent embodies deliberate and conscious forms of resistance against absolute sovereignty.

Despite the shock of the recent repression against Iranian teenagers and women by the Iranian regime, a re-evaluation of the ideological and political ideals of the Iranian revolution continues to feed into the collective sense of dissent and discontent among the Iranian youth and women. It has led them to dismiss all religious voices, including those of the reformists in the Iranian public sphere. The failure of Iran’s leaders to find a workable formula for saving the Islamic Republic seems to go hand-in-hand with the general view among the younger generation of Iranians that the ghost of the revolution continues to haunt the country.

Prof. (Dr.) Ramin Jahanbegloo is a political philosopher. He is presently the Executive Director of the Mahatma Gandhi Centre for Nonviolence and Peace Studies and the Vice-Dean of the School of Law at Jindal Global University- Delhi, India.

He received his B.A. and M.A. in Philosophy, History and Political Science and later his Ph.D. in Philosophy from the Sorbonne University. In 1993 he taught at the Academy of Philosophy in Tehran. He has been a researcher at the French Institute for Iranian Studies and a fellow at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University.  Ramin Jahanbegloo taught in the Department of Political Science at the University of Toronto from 1997-2001. He later served as the head of the Department of Contemporary Studies of the Cultural Research Centre in Tehran and, in 2006-07, was Rajni Kothari Professor of Democracy at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies in New Delhi, India. In April 2006 Dr. Jahanbegloo was arrested in Tehran Airport charged with preparing a velvet revolution in Iran. He was placed in solitary confinement for four months and released on bail. He was an Associated Professor of Political Science and a Research Fellow in the Centre for Ethics at University of Toronto from 2008-2012 and an Associate Professor of Political Science at York University in Toronto from 2012 – 2015.