Hong Kong Review of Books: Foucault in Iran

By Angus Reoch
Hong Kong Review of Books

Foucault in Iran (by Behrooz Ghamari-Tabrizi)Intellectuals are often punished for their originality, not by the ignorant masses but rather their enlightened peers. Attempts to countenance new conceptions of the world are often subjected to a Stalinist show-trial of devastating efficacy, with the author mocked, called out and often forced to recant their deviant views. This speaks less of human nature than it does the academy, which compels rogue scholars to account for their philosophical sins.

It is against this culture that Behrooz Ghamari-Tabrizi defends one famously recalcitrant thinker, Michel Foucault, whose qualified support of the 1979 Iranian Revolution earned him the ire of his contemporaries and the subsequent condescension of intellectual history. Largely written in response to the earlier title, Foucault and the Iranian Revolution: Gender and the Seduction of Islam Ghamari-Tabrizi is less interested in the Frenchman himself, as opposed to rescuing Foucault’s genuine engagement with a non-European conception of modernity from the condescending eyes of posterity. In doing so, he has produced a vitally necessary work of critical theory which dismantles many historical inaccuracies and contemporary political myths that have emerged around them.

Full article.