The Rise and Fall of the Intellectual Class in Iran


Miles Painter

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I plan to do my presentation on the creation and suppression of the Intellectual Class in 20th century Iran. I will cover how it was originally created by Reza Shah Pahlavi in the first quarter of the 20th century as a way to educate Muslim Iranians to fill public positions which had been controlled by foreigners during the Quajar dynasty. This intense modernization eventually gave rise to a new generation of western-exposed thinkers (Shari?ati, Khomeini, and Al-Ahmad will be used as examples) who all challenged the authority of the Shah as the rightful ruler of Iran. This will serve as a set up for a section on the Revolution of ?78-'79, in which Khomeini cleverly utilized the massive amount of dissent felt towards the Shah in order to guide the revolution and create a religious extremist government of his choosing, installing himself as the Supreme Leader. It will be important to note the mass roundup and execution of intellectuals in 1980, in which Khomeini, having achieved power, consolidated it by removing any dissenting elements through imprisonment and forced expatriation. This led to a repression and mass emigration of Iranian intellectuals, leaving behind an entire generation of youth who were born after the Revolution, and did not participate in the Iran/Iraq War. It is vital to consider this story in the face of the current civil unrest in Iran, where unemployment and inflation have been steadily rising for years due to hardline foreign policy and continued oppression of educated dissenters.


Malek Moazzam-Doulat




The Paul K. and Evalyn E. Cook Richter Trusts - Summer Fellowship

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