Days of Revolution: “Aliabad” of Shiraz in Iran and in the World in the 20th and 21st Centuries

Mary Elaine Hegland.

How do local politics and so-called ordinary people affect national and international politics? Living in an Iranian village she calls “Aliabad,” in close interaction with residents during periods between 1978 and 2014, allowed Mary Elaine Hegland to examine how national and international politics have affected people on the ground. Politics—the English and American-engineered coup against Prime Minister Mossadeq and the Kennedy pressure for land reform—brought about political conflict in Aliabad. In the 1960s and 1970s, Aliabad villagers became increasingly incorporated into nearby Shiraz and Iranian economy, society, and politics. The decades following have seen the villagers becoming knowledgeable about and connected with the international world as well. Laptops, email, YouTube, the Internet, satellite dishes, emigration, and travel bring them into closer contact with the outside world. But financial opportunities brought about by land reform and the oil boom economy, combined with incompetent government and the sanctions against Iran have a downside. People complain about materialism, competition for extravagance, corruption, selfishness, inability to trust anyone, conflict within families, decline of morality, and dissatisfaction. They worry about unemployment—so many young men are unemployed—and the future, and they are relatively open about their complaints. They ask many questions about life in the U.S. and how to get a visa. (Slides will illustrate the changes in Aliabad from 1978 through 2014.)

Hegland, Mary Elaine

Mary Hegland is Professor of Cultural and Middle Eastern Studies, Santa Clara University. She taught English as a second language in the girls’ high school in Mahabad during her 1966-1968 Peace Corps service. She studied at New York University and State University of New York, Binghamton and traveled to Iran for her PhD research between June 1978 and December 1979, living through the Iranian Revolution in her village research site near Shiraz. In addition to her recent publication Days of Revolution: Political Unrest in an Iranian Village (2014), she has published translations of stories by Iranian Azerbaijan teacher and author Samad Behrangi (The Little Black Fish and Other Modern Persian Stories by Samad Behrangi). With Richard Antoun, she edited Religious Resurgence: Contemporary Cases in Islam, Christianity, and Judaism.