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Foucault and the Iranian Revolution: Gender and the Seductions of Islamism annotated edition Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
The authors claim that Foucault values traditional forms of life over modern ones, and thus embraces (like the radical Islamists) a return to the past. In order to make their case, the authors resort to three strategies. First, they neglect Foucault's own statements about his writings. For instance, the authors insist that he saw ancient Greek sexual life as superior to ours, which Foucault explicitly denies. Second, they engage in egregious misinterpretation. For example, they read Foucault's book on the prisons as a plea for earlier forms of punishment. The first few pages of the prison book, detailing the excruciating torture of an attempted regicide, should be enough to convince anyone of the paucity of that interpretation. Finally, they misread Foucault's own sentences, in one case (p. 16) citing a long quote and then interpreting it as meaning something opposed to what it actually says.
Foucault insisted throughout his life that his work sought to deny the view that history naturally progresses from the worse to the better. The authors seem to think that this means that his view of history was that it moved from the better to the worse.Read more ›
In short, Foucault was drawn to the radical Islamism of the Ayatollah Khomeini--rather than to the feminist and socialist forces who had helped overthrow the despised Shah--precisely because of his aversion to all modern political institutions and norms, whether liberal or radical.Read more ›
The Authors, Janet Afary and Kevin Anderson, provide a detail overview of Foucault's writings and interviews on Iran. The authors also recount the historical Iranian revolution. And to connect this two, they offer some analysis and arguments in the context of Foucault's larger work.
Foucault's concern largely dealt with power, knowledge and discourse. I haven't read all of Foucault yet and nor have I read much on Iranian revolution. However, I didn't have any problem following the arguments in the book. What I found fascinating about Foucault is his emphasis on human irrationality. I think _Madness and Civilization_ talks about this in details. That is why the authors found it interesting to talk about Foucault's fascinations with martyrdom. They provide some detail background about Shiite (a sect in Islam) rituals and its connection with the revolution. Some of this practices are regarded as controversial in mainstream Islam.
The authors point out that the Iranian leftist and feminist sects were a major part of the movement. However, as we have seen with past revolutions it didn't turn out as we have expected. Radical Islamism got rid of the secular element pretty easily. The book goes into detail how Foucault "got it wrong" and some other interesting issues related with it.
Political analyst are saying that Ahmadinejad's recent 'landslide' victory can be summed up as a revival of the spirit of the Iranian revolution. I am curious how Foucault would have responded to this.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It is an absolute introduction to understanding the events that shaped the Iranian Revolution (as a revolution from the Right) and the relationship that Foucault's arguments have... Read morePublished on January 9, 2007 by Laurie Louise Rojas
This book is excellent! It is about time someone wrote the real account of how western intellectuals who knew too little about the culture and history of Iran, implicated... Read morePublished on July 12, 2005 by Ban