Agents of Revolution and Agents of History in the Islamic Republic of Iran

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Institutional Affiliation : 
University of Manchester
Academic Bio: 
Shahram Kholdi currently holds a fixed-term full-time lecturship (adjunct professorship) in Middle Eastern Studies and Persian at the University of Manchester. In 2009-2010 academic year, he taught Persian and Modern Literatures of the Middle East (undergraduate level) and Critical Approaches in Middle Eastern Studies (Masters level) at the department of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Manchester. Before assuming his present position, Shahram Kholdi held a Graduate Teaching Fellowship from 2005 to 2008 at the University of Manchester. He is currently in the post-viva revising stage of his PhD dissertation, titled "The Politics of Memory in the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Historiography of the 1979 Revolution". He holds a BA (Hons.) and MA in Political Science from the University of Toronto (2004). He also holds a BA in Law from Islamic Azad University, Tehran (1993). His major area of study is the historiography of the 1979 revolution in general, with specific attention to official and non-official revolutionary history institutes, political memoirs, and oral history. His major publications are: Breaking the Islamic Republic's 'circular constitutionalism' in (2005), 'Law, Value, Society: On the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran' in Jame'eh-ye Salem (1996); 'Women's Right of Life: Religious and Non-Religious Readings' in Jame'eh-ye Salem (1996).

  The historiographical context of post-revolution Iran is shaped, to a great degree, by various revolutionary history institutions that have emerged since a few years after the founding of the Islamic Republic (IRI). The body of historiographical products published by these institutions is a strong indicator of the existence of an historical engineering process.  More importantly, it appears that the more the IRI proceeds farther from its founding temporal point in 1979, the politics of historiography as politics of memory increasingly takes a more central role in the present factional rivalries.
In an attempt to address this desideratum in the scholarship on the historiographical actors of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the proposed paper will examine the genealogy of these institutions, which predates the Revolution back to the early days of Ayatollah Khomeini’s June 1963 Movement and their impact on the politics of memory in the IRI during the past thirty years.  This survey will include an outline of the past and present political affiliations of the factional figures in charge of these institutions (such as the circle of Haghani school graduates). Comparatively, the role of the institutions in politics of memory in the IRI parallels the efforts of rival factions in states such as Turkey and Israel, where rival political factions use historical institutions to promote a certain narrative of the nation’s past for the purposes of promoting competing political agenda. The paper’s central contention will be that radical right-wing revolutionaries have wielded power both in the day-to-day politics of the Islamic Republic in the past thirty years and at the same time they have been agent of developing and disseminating an official narrative of the fall of the Pahlavi monarchy and the founding of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The paper will conclude by a summary of its findings that further reinforces its core claim, that is, the official narrative of the 1979 Revolution has been largely shaped by the leaders of the conservative factions. Not only did these figure heads include those involved in writing public history textbooks at secondary and post-secondary levels of education but also included the Clergy who distinguished themselves by serving the Special Court for the Clergy, Ministry of Intelligence, and the Revolutionary Courts before they became the superintendents of revolutionary history institutions. 

Academic Discipline : 
Iranian Studies
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Other : 
Pahlavi and Islamic Republic Era

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