Biographical Sketch of Houshang Pourshariati (1934-2004)

Houshang Pourshariati (1934–2004) was a journalist, public intellectual and humanist who devoted his life to the advancement and welfare of his country in the course of his distinguished career in the Iranian Press and Media. Pourshariati commenced his career as a journalist when the Iranian Press was entering its professional phase in the middle of the 20th century. He was amongst a select group of highly dedicated, erudite and intellectually committed individuals who, through their untiring contributions, –at times against severe odds and with little means– laid the foundations of modern, professional journalism in Iran. With his education, keen intelligence, and tremendous organizational skills he soon rose to prominence and played a leading part in two of the most important dailies of his time, Ettela’at and Ayendegan, in the latter one of which he functioned as a founding member. A natural communicator, with a great gift for friendship and camaraderie, he played a crucial part as a founding member of the first free union, the “Writers’ and Journalists’ Syndicate” of Iran in the early 1960s.

The establishment of the “Writers’ and Journalists’ Syndicate” in this turbulent period of Iranian history was a milestone in the history of the Iranian Press and provided the ideological and institutional means for the subsequent crucial role that the Iranian press performed in the revolution of 1978-79. Pourshariati eventually became the Director of Pars News Agency, the Iranian national news agency, a position he held during the revolutionary upheavals. As one of the renowned journalists of his time and in the course of his career of about half a century he witnessed, firsthand, some of the most crucial episodes of Iranian history unfold. Houshang Pourshariati’s career, and his profound interest in Iran’s cultural progress also brought him into intimate contact with some of the most renowned Iranian academics and literati of the past half century. It is in commemoration of what he stood for as a humanist and universalist with a particular affection for his own cultural legacies, and a public intellectual of great integrity who devoted his life to Iran’s cultural progress, that this award in Iranian Studies is set up in his memory. It is hoped that the Houshang Pourshariati Book Award in Iranian Studies will contribute to the advancement of the field and further promote cross-cultural understanding.

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