Equality and Revolution in Cold War Iran

A lecture by:

Mohamad Tavakoli-Targhi, History, University of Toronto

“Equality and Revolution in Cold War Iran,” explores the interplay between historical memory, social rights and the contested conceptions of governmentality and constitutionality in the four decades prior to the 1979 Revolution. Offering a corrective to the ideological and linear revolutionary narratives of Pahlavi Iran, this historical inquiry elucidates how a multi-confessional conception of Iran and its constitutionally sanctioned “equality rights” of citizens was reconceived at “a moment of danger” during WWII when Iran was invaded by the Allied forces and Reza Shah Pahlavi (r. 1925-1941) was forced to abdicate. It explores how the endeavour for the promotion of legal equality of women and non-Muslim Iranians was opposed on religious and constitutional grounds by those who conceived of Iran as a “Shi‘i nation” (millat-i Shi‘ah). Exploring the concurrent and protracted efforts of lawyers and jurists (fuqaha) to promote two divergent modes of governing the everyday conduct of citizens — one based on “equality rights” and the other on Islamic jurisprudence – this lecture offers a historically situated account of the rights question in the decades prior to the 1979 Revolution.

Event Information


Thursday, October 6th, 2016

5:00 – 7:00 pm


Richard Ettinghausen Library
Kevorkian Centre
50 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012


Mohamad Tavakoli-Targhi

Mohamad Tavakoli-Targhi is Professor of History and Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations at the University of Toronto. He has served as President of the International Society for Iranian Studies (2008-10), was the founding Chair of the Department of Historical Studies at the University of Toronto-Mississauga (2004-07), and was the Editor-in-Chief of Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East (2001-12), a Duke University Press journal. He is currently the Editor-in-Chief of Iran Nameh and is coeditor with Homa Katoouzian of the Iranian Studies book series, published by Routledge. In addition to thee edited books, he is the author of Refashioning Iran: Orientalism, Occidentalism and Historiography (Palgrave, 2001) and Tajaddud-i Bumi [Vernacular Modernity] (Nashr-i Tarikh, 2003). He is currently completing a manuscript that explores the discursive transformation of modern Persian political language from biopolitics to spatial governance. It traces the shift from a restorative rhetoric of medical sciences to the constructional language of engineering. Tavakoli holds a BA in political science and an MA in history from the University of Iowa, and a PhD in history from the University of Chicago.