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Scholarship and the imperial native informers

5 25 5

Over the last half a century I have been a witness and a close observer of multiple social uprisings. In the last decade, two particular social uprisings have been the focus of my sustained critical thinking: The Green Movement in Iran (2009-2010) and the Arab Spring throughout the Arab world (2011-2012).

Two main ideas informed my sustained course of reflections on these two historic events: I identified the Green Movement as a "civil rights movement," and the Arab Spring as a case of an "open-ended revolution", a case of "delayed defiance" that ended the postcolonial course of ideology production. These two historic events, I have argued, sought to remedy what the postcolonial history of nations had promised but failed to deliver.

I would like to use the case of one of these two ideas, the proposition that we read the Green Movement in Iran as a "civil rights movement" by way of an example as to how, with what combined synergy of perils and promises, do we venture to read a massive social uprising and theorise its particularity - and once we do so who may falsely seek to be the unintended beneficiary of our critical thinking.

With the outbreak of the Green Movement in Iran, I was among scores of other Iranian scholars who began publicly reflecting on the nature of what was happening in our homeland.

This was 2009 and the US-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were raging and the June presidential election was one way of assuring Iran as a nation would be left to its own devices rather than targeted by the US neocons and Zionists alike for yet another war in the region to distract attention from the Israeli theft of Palestine.

Among my earliest observations was that what we were witnessing in Iran was more akin to a "civil rights movement" than a revolution in the classical sense of the term. At this time, I had spent most of my academic career writing many books and articles (in both English and Persian) about the Iranian revolution of 1977-1979 and I was making a concerted effort to see the differences between the two events.


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