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Kevin B. Anderson, "Foucault and the Iranian Revolution," New York City, Oct. 25, 2006

"Foucault and the Iranian Revolution"

A Talk by Kevin B. Anderson

Wednesday, October 25 at 7:00 pm

Suggested Donation: $7–$10

The New SPACE (The New School for Pluralistic Anti-Capitalist Education)

Beginning in 1978, Michel Foucault covered the mass unrest against the Shah in Iran as a journalist for Italian and French publications. He paid particular attention to the Islamic wing of the Iranian Revolution, which he rightly identified as a major new force in world politics. His search for an alternative to Western liberal democracy led him to favorably judge the first
major victory of radical Islam as a new "political spirituality." His support for this movement raises an important question about how Foucault, a major theorist of modern power, could have overlooked the repressive nature of Khomeini’s movement.

With Foucault and the Iranian Revolution: Gender and the Seductions of Islamism, Janet Afary and Kevin Anderson have written the definitive English account and analysis of this episode. They suggest some troubling connections between Foucault's political judgment and his theoretical critique of modernity. They also discuss the sharp differences between his position on the Iranian Revolution (and radical Islamism) and those of the feminist philosopher Simone de Beauvoir,the Marxist historian Maxime Rodinson, and the feminist writer Kate Millett. As Iran and its allies grow in prestige as a counter power to American hegemony, what relevance might the relation of this major Western critical theorist to the political Islamist movement
have for today?

Kevin B. Anderson, Associate Professor of Political Science, Sociology, and Women’s Studies at Purdue University, is author of Lenin, Hegel and Western Marxism. Anderson is co-editor of Marx on Suicide, The Rosa Luxemburg Reader, Erich Fromm and Critical Criminology, and a forthcoming volume of Marx’s writings on non-Western societies and gender.

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