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POLI 211 Lecture Notes - Reza Shah, Iranian Revolution, Persian Language

Political Science
Course Code
POLI 211
Fillippo Sabetti

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Poli 211 Lecture Notes
November 19th 2012
Not on the exam: Nigeria, Europe, reading Africa Works political instrument
What does the Iran case add to our knowledge of revolution?
Iran has received so much bad press that political scientists are challenged: whether or
not it is possible to separate facts from fiction
o 1.) The issue of Islamism or Islamic fundamentalism: why is this so? How
typical is the Iranian case?
o 2.) What kind of country was Iran before 1979?
o 3.) What inspired the revolution of 1979?
o 4.) The place of Iran in geopolitical terms
o 5.) Does the studies of Iran give us a glimpse of how people there understand
democracy? And use natural resources? THE BOOM CURSE
o How do we begin to make sense of this?
Geographic and demographic features of Iran that are often neglected
The starting development of the state by the 1979 Revolution
1.) Features:
Farsi, Persian nation rather than an Arab country
Iran is under periphery of the middle east
Size of Alaska or smaller than Mexico
The people mostly young, born after 1979
Ethnicity: Persian, (>1/2) Azeri, (1/4) , and others
Fourth largest of oil in the world, after Saudi Arabia, U.S., and Russia
Fourth largest exporter of oil
2.) Historical development of the state
Until 1935, Iran was known as Persia
Most dramatic transformation of Persia in the 17th century A.D. with the arrival of
Islam (Islam was an important introduction in that the new Islamic empire brought
Persia into the Islamic world and at the same time, it also adopted some Persian
Arabic became the language of the state, while Farsi remained the language of the
People forced to convert to Islam
16th and 17th century Historians traced two long standing Persian Dynasties
Persian faced challenges:
o Sheism deviated from the dominating Islam
o The challenge of the dynasty during the period, in particular in the 19th century,
with the growth of European Colonialism, was how to maintain autonomy and
power in the face of regional rivalry
o Neighboring countries want to take over
o Challenges of 19th century how Persia was to confront the Western powers,
given their superiority in military and economic minds
o How could Persia or Iran, modernize and still retain its sovereignty and culture?
Also applies to China, and Japan
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