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The "Human Sciences'' on Trial in Iran

Department of Sociology public lecture

Why the "human sciences" have become the target of a major government crackdown in Iran today. This talk will focus thematically upon a specific conceptual shift. Today’s religious-reformist intellectuals articulating Iran’s contemporary mass movement for democracy draw their vision of change from the social sciences rather than philosophy, reflecting complex underlying conceptual-theoretical and organizational-practical shifts since the long struggle over independence and the future that shaped the twentieth century. In the 1950s a radical intellectual shift had taken place from a discourse of progress and science to a different discourse focusing on issues of authenticity, nativism or anti-Enlightenment. The Iranian reform movement, with its origins in the 2nd of Khordad Front, changed the terms of public discourse from the ideologically closed post-revolutionary worldview grounded in the Heideggerian philosophical concepts Bazghash be khish (return to roots/self) and Gharbzadegi (Westoxication) to an open-ended pragmatic politics dedicated to Weberian principles of asadi (liberty) and jam’eh-e madani (civil society) based on predictability of legal procedure (i.e. constitutionalism, citizenship and human rights) – a significant shift from ontology to pragmatics.

Ali Mirsepassi is professor of Middle Eastern studies and sociology and director of the Iranian Studies Initiative at New York University, and Visiting Professor in the Department of Sociology at LSE during MT 2013.


Professor Ali Mirsepassi | talks


Date and Time:

7 November 2013 at 6:30 pm


1 hour 30 minutes



Sheikh Zayed Theatre (New Academic Building, LSE)
54 Lincoln's Inn Fields

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Organised by:

London School of Economics & Political Science
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Available from:

This event is free and open to all with no ticket required. Entry is on a first come, first served basis. For any queries email events@lse.ac.uk or call 020 7955 6043.

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