Type of Thesis
Interpretations of Michel Foucault’s writings on the Iranian Revolution of 1978-79 tend toward three basic stances. The critical-explanatory approach argues that an infantile leftistism set Foucault up for an uncritical approval of a backward and premodern Isalmist regime. The interpretive-neutral position refrains from value judgments preferring instead to view Foucault’s reportages as valuable insofar as they reveal lesser-known aspects of his work. Finally, Foucault’s defenders interpret the Iran writings as his movement toward humanism and liberalism, a reorientation, they argue, that ought to absolve Foucault from guilt in the case of Iran. In this paper I survey the existing positions on the reportages and ultimately deliver an alternate explanation. Grounded in the sociology of knowledge, I argue that the case of Foucault and Iran is best understood as Foucault maintaining a sense of biographical coherence in the production of knowledge. Using a theory of intellectual self-concept, I show that three identity traits: the anti-prophetic philosopher; the philosopher of the present; and infatuation with the theme of the revolution drove Foucault toward the Iranian events, and colored his interpretations of it.
Alshaibi, Wisam, "The Intellectual Destroyer: Michel Foucault and The Iranian Revolution" (2015). Undergraduate Honors Theses. 758.