Elahé Omidyar Mir-Djalali Annual Lecture: Centres, Peripheries and New Histories of the Left in Iran

Abstract: What can historians working on Iran gain from new insights generated in sprawling fields associated with global history such as global urban history and global intellectual history; and what can historians and histories of Iran contribute to these fields? With examples from recent and ongoing work on the history of the Iranian Left, and in particular, the revolutionary organization Sazman-e Charik-ha-ye Fada’i-ye Khalq or Fadais, Rasmus Elling will present examples of such dialogues between global fields and Area Studies. In particular, Elling will discuss two cases from his research to show how theoretical and methodological prisms such as ‘urban/rural’ and ‘center/periphery’ can illuminate understudied aspects of Iran’s modern social, political and ideological history. These cases raise two overall questions: What was ‘urban’ about a quintessential urban guerrilla movement of the 1970s such as the Fadais? And where did minorities on Iran’s geographical periphery fit into the Third-Worldist views of a movement such as the Fadais?

Biography: Rasmus Elling is Associate Professor and Unit Coordinator of Middle East Studies at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, where he teaches Iranian and Middle Eastern history as well as Cross-Cultural Studies. He is a social historian studying modern Iran through four attention points: urbanism, ethnicity, political movements and ideology. Elling has worked with Iranian society, culture and politics for more than 20 years and written extensively on minorities, nationalism, student movements, urban violence and the Iranian revolution.