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From New York to Tehran: American Pragmatism, Muslim Engineers, and the Making of Modern Iran
July 25, 2019, 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Historians of modern Iran have unanimously agreed on the crucial role of Mehdi Bazargan (1907-1995) in the decades proceeding to the Revolution of 1979. Bazargan is best known as the prime minister of the Iranian post-revolutionary provisional government. He is also well-known as one of the main founders of several far-reaching social and professional societies as well as paramount political parties—most notably, the Freedom Movement of Iran. After spending seven years in France studying engineering, Bazargan returned home in 1935 not only with a doctorate in thermodynamics, but also with a pragmatic vision that proved influential in shaping his political career as well as his interpretation of Islam.
To what extent was Bazargan’s religiopolitical worldview influenced by Pragmatism—the American philosophical school of thought best associated with the works of William James (1842-1910) and Charles Sanders Peirce (1839-1914)—which had already reached European scholarly circles well before the arrival of young Bazargan in 1929? Bazargan’s career complicates our understanding of the roots of the 1979 Revolution, and more broadly, of Iranian society. Furthermore, Bazargan, who is popularly called “Engineer Bazargan,” is the epitome of a long-lasting trend witnessable throughout twentieth-century Iran: the presence of STEM professionals in the Iranian political arena.
Sadegh Foghani is a historian specializing in history of science and technology. He obtained his PhD in history from the University of South Carolina and his B.Sc. degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Tehran.
Dr. Foghani is currently a Fellow at the Linda Hall Library where he is examining the Charles S. Peirce Papers, which include his notebooks and correspondence, to explore the relationship between American Pragmatism and the development of religio-political thought of Mehdi Bazargan.
The event is free and open to the public; however, e-tickets are required.
Parking is free in Library parking lots and along the west side of Holmes Street between 51st and 52nd streets. The main entrance to the Library grounds is on Cherry Street. The Linda Hall Library is not affiliated with UMKC. Parking in all UMKC lots is by permit or meter.