ORGANIZATION/SPONSOR: Center for Middle Eastern Studies
SPEAKER(S): Farzin Vahdat is a sociologist working on conditions and notions of modernity and their applications to Iran, Islam and the Muslim world. He is the author of 'God and Juggernaut: Iran’s Intellectual Encounter with Modernity and Islamic Ethos and the Specter of Modernity', which was published in June 2015. In the latter book he analyses major elements of contemporary Muslim thought in relation to modern world. Vahdat has just completed a book manuscript entitled 'Cinema and Social Change in Iran'. He is also author of numerous articles, some of which have been translated into different languages. Vahdat has taught at Tufts, Harvard, and Yale Universities, as well as Vassar College. He currently teaches sociology at Iranacademia, an online university, for Iranian students.
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In the past two decades religion has become a hotly debated issue in Iran. What constitutes desirable and undesirable forms of religion and religiosity and how religious precepts should be interpreted and reformed are topics for discussion in the press, publications, social media and very importantly in cinema in that country. As cinema has become very popular in Iran (partly because many other forms of public entertainment are prohibited or limited by the state), arguably it has also come to reflect how Iranians might be searching for new views of religion and religiosity. In this talk Farzin Vahdat discusses some recent films from Iran. These films challenge the revolutionary and/or traditional sense of religiosity that the Islamic state has been fostering and in fact enforcing in Iran since 1979, while proposing alternatives views of religion.