Foucault’s Enlightenment: Islamic Revolution and the Perils of Universal History

Behrooz Ghamari-Tabrizi examines Foucault’s writings on the Iranian Revolution as an attempt to write the history of the present without binding commitments to a teleological historiography. Is it possible for a people to envision and desire futures uncharted by already existing schemata of history? Is it possible to think of dignity, justice, and liberty outside the cognitive maps and principles of the Enlightenment? Ghamari-Tabrizi argues that Foucault’s encounter with the Iranian revolution left a significant mark on his later works on the care of the self and the hermeneutics of the subject.

Behrooz Ghamari-Tabrizi is Professor of History and Sociology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He is the author of Islam and Dissent in Postrevolutionary Iran (I.B. Tauris & Palgrave-MacMillan, 2008), Remembering Akbar: Inside the Iranian Revolution (OR Books & Counterpoint Press, 2016), and Foucault in Iran: Islamic Revolution after the Enlightenment (University of Minnesota Press, 2016).

Sponsored by the Center for Middle Eastern Studies and the International Consortium of Critical Theory Programs at UC Berkeley, with additional support from the Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion and the Program in Critical Theory.