Global 1968, the Death of Takhti, and the Birth of the Iranian Revolution

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October 15, 2021

Naghmeh Sohrabi and Arash Davari

This talk reconstructs rumors and demonstrations in 1968 around the death of Gholamreza Takhti, Iran's beloved gold-winning wrestling champion, recentering them in the history of the 1979 revolution and the global 1960s. The account of the demonstrations provided here explains a mobilization tactic used to great effect in the lead up to the 1979 Iranian Revolution: the staging of protests on the fortieth day of mourning. Locating this tactic in 1968, at a moment of global protest, and before ideological disputes between leftists and Islamists congealed in Iran, casts a spotlight on the indeterminate quality of the revolution as a lived event. The authors argue that discussions of “global 1968,” and approaches to global history more broadly construed, must account both for the local specificity and the global echoes signaled by events like the Takhti demonstrations.

Naghmeh Sohrabi is the Charles (Corky) Goodman professor of Middle East History and the Director for Research at the Crown Center for Middle East Studies at Brandeis University. She is working on her second book about the revolutionary generation in Iran tentatively titled The Intimate Lives of a Revolution: Iran 1979. Her research on the revolution has received fellowships and grants from the Andrew W. Mellon foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the American Academy in Berlin. She is currently the president of the Association for Iranian Studies.

Arash Davari is assistant professor of Politics at Whitman College. His research and teaching interests include modern, postcolonial, and contemporary political theory; history and theory; aesthetics and politics; and state formation and social change in the Middle East, with a focus on modern Iran. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California, Los Angeles. He is currently completing a book manuscript about the 1979 revolution in Iran that situates those events in the context of global transformations in the 1970s and political theory.

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