2023-2024 Catalog

CTSJ 202 The Promise and Failure of Postmodern Politics: Foucault in the Iranian Revolution

When French postmodern philosopher and activist, Michel Foucault, arrived in Iran to report on the emerging 1979 Islamic revolution, he was full of praise and wonder at what he saw as a great liberatory and spiritual rejection of repressive Western forms of life. He saw it as the birth of a new spiritual politics. But his naiveté regarding the repressive forces at work in the revolution would soon become clear to everyone.  Foucault’s misunderstanding of the situation in Iran is emblematic of the complex but foundational relationship between postcolonialism and postmodernism.  This course will examine the ways in which the liberatory promise of postmodernism is rethought, rejected or shown to be untenable in the specific contexts of Iran and the broader Middle Eastern and North African postcolonial movements.  While acknowledging the liberating power of the postmodern critiques of repressive concepts and structures, we will ask how postmodern thought can be translated into a sustainable and meaningful liberatory politics in places like Iran and the Middle East, and how postcolonial thought and practice are affected by the political and moral possibilities and limits of postmodernism?


4 units

Core Requirements Met

  • Regional Focus