SOAS University of London

Centre for Iranian Studies

Mapping the Role of Intellectuals in Iranian Modern and Contemporary History


Date: 1 December 2018Time: 9:00 AM

Finishes: 1 December 2018Time: 6:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: Khalili Lecture Theatre

Type of Event: Conference

Mohammad Ali Foroughi

At the crossroads between tradition and modernity in the modern history of Iran stand generations of intellectuals, diverse in their backgrounds and views, who struggled to mediate the transition from traditionalism to modern mode of thinking. Yet for many decades the development of democratic ideas was held back by intellectual elites who surrendered their critical independence to the dogmas of ideologies such as Stalinism and Islamism. As a result, many among the Iranian intellectuals became handmaidens of power rather than agents of the Iranian Enlightenment.  That is the reason why the Iranian revolution was not accompanied with an intrinsically critical nature among the Iranian intellectuals which would impel them to speak the truth to power.

The shock of the Revolution and the re-evaluation of political ideals have been part of a learning process that has generated a collective sense of responsibility among the post-revolutionary intellectuals in Iran and led them to opt for cultural dissent rather than ideological politics.

Forty years after the Revolution, how can we evaluate the role of Iranian intellectuals in the history of Iranian modernity and in the process of the Iranian democratic debate?

This question and many others are some of the key points this one-day conference – organised by the Centre for Iranian Studies at SOAS – will explore.

Confirmed speakers:

  • Professor Saeed Paivandi (University of Lorraine) on "Amir Kabir
  • Professor Ramin Jahanbegloo (Jindal Global University – India) on "Muhammad Ali Foroughi
  • Professor Homa Katouzian (St Antony's College, Oxford) on “Sadeq Hedayat
  • Professor Ali Ansari (St Andrews University) on "Nationalism"
  • Professor Haideh Moghissi (York University) on "Iranian Women
  • Professor Farhad Khosrokhavar (EHESS – France) on “Shariati and Jalal Al Ahmad
  • Professor Touraj Atabaki (IISH, Amsterdam) on “Iranian Marxist Intellectuals
  • Professor Farzin Vahdat (Vassar College – USA) on "Islamic Thinkers
Conference Programme

Admission: £10 standard; £5 students (proof of students status required). The registration fee includes lunch.

Pre-registration required. To register please visit the SOAS Online StorePlease note that the Online Store will close at 11.59pm on Friday 30 November and that only a limited number of standard places will be available on the day on a first come basis

Organiser: Centre for Iranian Studies

Contact email:

Contact Tel: 020 7898 4330