Accepted paper:

Days of revolution: local political culture and processual paradigm in the Iranian Revolution


Mary Elaine Hegland (Santa Clara University)

Paper short abstract:

Most Aliabadis applied local political culture to understand and provide action models and expectations for the 1979 Revolution. Only later they turned to the Shia Islamic framework. When the clerical leaders forced their interpretations of Islam on Iranians, most Aliabads have become disillusioned.

Paper long abstract:

(Could also fit in IP08 and PO54.) Based on some 2 years of participant observation field research in the village of "Aliabad," located in southwestern Iran near Shiraz, during 1978-1979 and then 4 other visits from 2003-8, the author argues that, contrary to popular opinion, it was not modified Shia Islam which provided the motivation for most Aliabad villagers to shift support to the side of the Revolution during the 1978-1979 political conflict. Rather, Aliabadis applied their own local political culture and their political processual paradigm of competition and conflict among kin-based political factions, developed during the long landlord--sharecropper period before land reform in 1962, to understand, make decisions about, guide their actions, and provide their expectations regarding the Iranian Revolution. Based on oral history about conflicts in the past, eight stages in the local political processual paradigm or model are presented to demonstrate how one headman was pulled down and another put up in his place. These stages could also be discerned in the process of involvement of villagers in the revolutionary movement.The entitled clerics who were able to take over control of the country, have attempted to impose their own interpretations of the religion on a largely unwilling population.

panel IP03
The threadbare margins of revolutions: painful participation and failed mutualities