[P4841] Social, Political, and Ideological Activism in the Shi'i World

Created by Zackery Heern
Sunday, 11/19/17 1:00pm


This panel contends that activism in the Shi‘i world during the 20th and 21st centuries has been most successful when drawing upon social and intellectual resources available from within the Shi‘i tradition, and that failing to do so, or intentionally excluding such resources, places activists and regimes at a disadvantage. The panel brings together papers that focus on actors and movements within Shi‘i milieus who, despite their adherence or non-adherence to Shi‘ism, reimagined and reshaped the socio-political order in Iran and the Arab world. Four of the papers discuss the activism of Shi‘i scholars and how their ideologies manifested in the Shi‘i communities of Iraq, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. An additional paper examines a communist movement that developed as a competing ideology in Iran leading up to the Islamic revolution, exemplifying a challenge to the Shi‘i establishment in Iran.

Activists in the Shi‘i world focused their attention (and sometimes ire) on both European imperialists and their national governments during the course of the past century. This panel illustrates that Socialist and Islamist ideologies were among the most prominent frameworks employed by activists in their attempts to enhance their socio-political positions in Shi‘i contexts. Their contestation for power and authority exhibited a wide range of modes of activism. Three papers focus on armed revolt against British imperialists, the Ba’thist regime, and the pre-revolutionary Iranian monarchy, while two additional papers shed light on ideological formulations and social activism that lays the groundwork for resistance to pre-existing understandings of Shi‘i religio-political authority and its outworking in their societies.

The research represented in these five papers address the following questions: How aware are religious and political activists of their claims on the public space and does this determine their strategies? To what extent does the pre-existing authority, of clerics and non-clerics, play a role in revolutionary movements and activism? How has activism affected the structures of power and authority in Shi‘i contexts? Is dissent in post-colonial contexts a continuation from colonial times? To answer these and additional questions, the authors of these papers have approached their topics using historical, sociological, and anthropological theoretical lenses to analyze primary source materials that include interviews, government documents, speeches, memoir literature, newspapers, pamphlets, and tracts. In doing so, this panel provides a significant contribution to scholarly understanding of social, political, and ideological activism in the Shi‘i World.






Juan Cole

(University of Michigan)
Panel Participating Role(s): Chair;

David Siddhartha Patel

(Crown Center for Middle East Studies, Brandeis University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Mirjam Kuenkler

(University of Göttingen)
Panel Participating Role(s): Discussant;

Babak Rahimi

(UC San Diego)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Zackery Heern

(Idaho State University)
Zackery M. Heern is a specialist in the Middle East and Islamic Studies. He is an Assistant Professor in the Department of History at Idaho State University. Oneworld Publications published his latest book, titled "The Emergence of Modern Shi‘ism: Islamic...
Panel Participating Role(s): Organizer; Presenter;

Robert J. Riggs

(University of Bridgeport)
Panel Participating Role(s): Organizer; Presenter;

Eskandar Sadeghi-Boroujerdi

(University of Oxford)
Dr Eskandar Sadeghi-Boroujerdi, BSc (Hons), PGDip, MA, DPhil (Oxon) is a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow in the Faculty of Oriental Studies at the University of Oxford and a Postdoctoral Associate at St Cross College, University of Oxford. Honorary...
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;