State, Elites and Sovereignty in Modern Iran
Saturday, July 22, 2023 – 8:30 am
Innis Town Hall Theatre
A former visiting fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy, Dr. Ladan Boroumand, is the co-founder and former research director of the Abdorrahman Boroumand Center for Human Rights in Iran (ABC). She is also on the editorial board of the Journal of Democracy. Dr. Boroumand has studied political sociology and history in France. Her research focuses on the French Revolution & Iran’s Islamic revolution. Her PhD dissertation on the French Revolution, La Guerre des Principes, was published in 1999 by editions EHSS. Her articles on the French revolution have been published in Revue Française de Science Politique and Journal of Modern History. And her articles on the Islamic Revolutionary regime have appeared in Journals such as, Mediterranean peoples (CNRS-France), the Journal of Democracy, Social Research, Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, Dissent Magazine, Multicultural Review, and Politique Internationale. Dr. Boroumand has occasionally published op-eds in Le Monde and the Washington Post. She was the 2009 co-Laureate of Lech Walesa award for her work in defense of human rights in Iran.
In her paper Dr. Boroumand will focus on Shapur Bakhtiar, one of the post WW2 figures of Iranian democratic nationalism. A brief evocation of Dr. Bakhtiar’s political career, including his work with Iranian trade unions in the immediate post WW2 period, will provide the background for examining his 1979 appointment by the Shah as Prime Minister. The 37-day long period of Bakhtiar’s government was the occasion of a crucial political dispute which sheds light on the deficiencies of democratic culture within Iran’s nationalist elite. The very meaning of the two concepts of people and sovereignty, the cornerstone of Iran’s 1906 constitution, was at the heart of the clash between Bakhtiar on the one side and his fellow nationalist companions who had rallied Ayatollah Khomeini on the other side. The subsequent debates of the Assembly of the Experts regarding people’s sovereignty confirmed the centrality of the principle of people’s sovereignty in the January-February 1979’s political turmoil. Bakhthiar’s experience is rich in lessons for Iranians who are working on their country’s future political transition.