Going back to the 1950s, 60s, and 70s to explore the work and life of one important French orientalist through the writing of his biography, Roxanne Varzi will explore how Shiite Islam came into play with postcolonial and postmodern theories to bring about the Islamic Revolution. Could this explain why, 30 years later, Islam continues to provide a framework for protest among those disillusioned by the Islamic Republic?
No one denies that Henri Corbin was an important part of Iranian history and Western philosophy and theology. He appears as a footnote or is given a mention in books about Iranian Islamic history, the philosophy of Heidegger, Jung’s days in Ascona, and the transpersonal psychology movement. Yet no one has written on his role in the pedagogy of the young Iranians who became revolutionaries and who brought about the Iranian Revolution or what he referred to as a “shadow of evil.” And no one has worked through the materials and letters he wrote in Persian while in Iran. How is it that Islam is a powerful form of protest for both secular-minded and religious citizens against their Islamic government? And why is that so surprising? After all, Kate Millett, Michel Foucault, and much of the Iranian communist party marched in Iran’s Islamic Revolution in 1979. Even then there was a misconception about Islam as a social force for change, especially against repressive regimes. This misconception about the Iranian Revolution in particular remains due to an ignorance about all the factors that led to the Revolution and then to the Islamic Republic in the first place.