Institutional Affiliation :
Institute of Islamic Studies, McGill University
Academic Bio :
Assistant Professor at the Institute of Islamic Studies and the History Department. Published a number of articles in Persian, English and Italian dealing with Iranian history and literature. Completed a monograph on modern Shiraz.
Research Interests: History-Anthropology of Iran with a focus on the transformation of literary and artistic cultures, definitions of self, visual representation, and history of thought in modern Iran.
Concise Paper Title :
Eclecticism and the Reasoning Individual: Fursat Shirazi’s (d.1923) journey of Self-Discovery
Paper Abstract (maximum of 400 words) :
This paper considers the birth of the reasoning individual as a subject of knowledge in Iran, through a discussion of a late 19th century Shirazi intellectual, Fursat Shirazi (1854‐1923). A painter, poet, historian and passionate dilettante, Fursat opens up conceptual questions about the history of thought in Iran. In Fursat’s writings and biography one can analyze the productive intersection of first, discursive traditions in Islam (hikmat, ‘irfan and a self proclaimed “mutazilism”) and second, 19th century “European knowledge” particularly in the fields of linguistics, evolution and Copernican astronomy. Unlike what some historians have claimed in relationship to the same period, I argue that Fursat’s profile does not fit that of an Iranian discovering himself through a European inflected colonial mirroring. Rather, forms of borrowing and eclecticism, guides him to venture into disparate fields of knowledge, asserting an ethic in which “science” and “religion” ‐‐as well as Iran and Europe‐‐ are recombined under the guiding light of individual reason.