The Iranian Revolution: A Precursor to Worldwide Populism?

Apr 7, 2021, 12:00 pm1:00 pm
Zoom webinar
Free and open to the public



Event Description

Forty years ago, the Islamic Republic was taking shape in Iran. The outcome of this process was far more than a regime change: it upended Iran’s social order. The country’s new rulers prided themselves on their provincial non-elite background, and they have been pursuing nativist populist policies ever since. At the time, this rupture with the cosmopolitan pretensions of prerevolutionary governments and elites was seen as exceptional. In recent years, however, nativist populism has been gaining ground all over the world: east and west, north and south. This talk explores some of the parallels between the Iranian experience and that of other populist movements and governments, and discusses connections between them.


Houchang Chehabi is a scholar of Iranian studies at the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University where he is Professor of International Relations and History. He has also taught at Harvard University and has been a visiting professor at the University of St. Andrews, UCLA, and the Universidad Argentina de la Empresa. He has published two books, Iranian Politics and Religious Modernism: The Liberation Movement of Iran under the Shah and Khomeini (1990) and Distant Relations: Iran and Lebanon in the Last 500 Years (2006). He has also co-edited Politics, Society, and Democracy: Comparative Studies (1995); Sultanistic Regimes (1998); Iran’s Constitutional Revolution: Popular Politics, Cultural Transformations, and Transnational Connections (2010); and Iran and the Challenges of the Twenty-First Century: Essays in Honour of Mohammad-Reza Djalili (2013). Chehabi’s forthcoming book is Onomastic Reforms: Family Names and-State Building in Iran.

Chehabi has written numerous articles, book reviews, and translations.

  • The Institute for the Transregional Study of the Contemporary Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia (TRI)
  • The Department & Program in Near Eastern Studies
  • The Sharmin and Bijan Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Iran and Persian Gulf Studies