Book Launch | The Fate of Third Worldism in the Middle East: Iran, Palestine, and beyond

Key information

5:00 pm to 7:00 pm
Main Building, SOAS
Djam Lecture Theatre (DLT)

About this event

This book launch will feature a panel of presentations from contributors to the volume, a response by a scholar of Iran and Palestine, and an audience Q&A.

In the latter half of the twentieth century, a revolutionary idea promised to upend the global order. Anti-imperialist militancy, bolstered by international solidarity, would lead to not only the national liberation of oppressed peoples but universal emancipation, shattering the division between the prosperous nations of the capitalist West and the poorer countries of the Global South.

The idea was Third Worldism, and among others it inspired struggles in Iran and Palestine. By the early 1980s, however, progressive visions of independence and freedom had fallen to the reality of an oppressive Islamic theocracy in Iran, while the Palestinian Revolution had been eclipsed by civil war in Lebanon, Israeli aggression and intra-Arab conflict.

This thought-provoking volume explores the dramatic decline of Third Worldism in the Middle East. It reveals the lived realities of the time by focusing on the key protagonists – from student activists to guerrilla fighters, and from volunteer nurses to militant intellectuals – and juxtaposes the Iranian and Palestinian cases to offer a riveting re-examination of this defining era. 

Ultimately, it challenges us to reassess how we view the end of the long 1960s, prompting us to reconsider perennial questions concerning self-determination, emancipation, change and solidarity.

The book is available for purchase from Oneworld Academic.

About the speakers

  • Rasmus Elling, Associate Professor, Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies, University of Copenhagen. Book co-editor and author of the chapter ‘Fragile Solidarity: The Iranian Left and the Kurdish National Question in the 1979 Revolution.’
  • Nathaniel George, Lecturer in Politics of the Middle East, Department of Politics and International Studies, SOAS. Author of chapter ‘Abu Jubran and Jabal ʿAmil Between the Palestinian and Iranian Revolutions.’
  • Maryam Alemzadeh, Associate Professor in the History & Politics of Iran, University of Oxford. Author of chapter ‘The Islamic Republic Party and the Palestinian Cause, 1979–80: A Discursive Transformation of the Third Worldist Agenda.’
  • Sorcha Thomson, Honorary Research Fellow, Birkbeck, University of London. Author of chapter ‘Demystifying Third World Solidarity: Cuba and the Palestinian Revolution in the Seventies.’


  • Seyed Ali Alavi, Lecturer in Middle Eastern and Iranian Studies, School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics, SOAS and Co-Director of the SOAS Centre for Iranian Studies.


This event is free to attend, but registration is required. Please note that seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.