Part 23:

“The Shah and the Quiet Revolution”

What exactly are the roots of the anti-modernist movement in Iran? How might we assess the seeds of the Islamic Revolution of 1979 far before the late-1970s? And in what way were the Pahlavis unwittingly complicit in the revolution that dethroned them? Iranian-American sociologist, political scientist, and author of the recent book, “Iran’s Quiet Revolution: The Downfall of the Pahlavi State,” Dr. Ali Mirsepassi, Director of the Iranian Studies Initiative at New York University, joins Jian Ghomeshi from New York to discuss his fascinating thesis that it was, in fact, a convergence of anti-modern, spiritual and nativist discourse in both the Islamist revolutionary movement AND the Pahlavi state that created the conditions for the overthrow of the Shah in ’79.

Part 22:

“The Growth of Cinema in Pre-Revolutionary Iran”

Iranian film has been celebrated internationally for its artistic significance and cultural importance in recent decades. But what do we find if we look at the genesis and growth of modern cinema in Iran back to the mid-20th Century? And more specifically, how can we assess the influence of Western culture and Hollywood films on what developed in Iran in the pre-revolutionary years? Professor and Director of the Film Studies Program at Michigan State University, Dr. Kaveh Askari, author of the new book, “Relaying Cinema in Midcentury Iran: Material Cultures in Transit,” joins Jian Ghomeshi from East Lansing, Michigan, for a wide-ranging and fascinating conversation about how access, technology, and Western influence affected the development of a unique and powerful film culture in 20th Century Iran.

Roqe moment 123 – Film Studies professor and author Dr. Kaveh Askari on how old Persian films “borrowed” from Hollywood and used famous soundtracks and themes… – Instagram

Part 21:

“Literary Roots of the Revolution”

What role did Iranian writers and intellectuals play in bringing on a revolution in Iran in 1979? How important was Persian literature in creating political sea change? And what were the lessons for those who fought political repression and censorship in the Pahlavi era and supported the overthrow of the Shah, when they faced an even worse plight under Khomeini? Distinguished writer and professor of Persian at the UCLA Department of Near Eastern Languages and Culture, Dr. Ahmad Karimi-Hakkak, author of the recent book, “ A Fire of Lilies: Perspectives on Literature and Politics in Modern Iran,” joins Jian Ghomeshi from Los Angeles to discuss the intellectual and creative class that supported the revolution of 1979 and their reasons for doing so, the heartbreak of those same intellectuals as the revolution was coopted by Islamic formalists who consolidated power, and the writers who were executed, imprisoned or exiled in the aftermath.

Roqe moment 121 – Writer and historian Dr. Ahmad Karimi-Hakkak on the role intellectuals played in reflecting and fermenting the appetite for the 1979 revolution… – Instagram
Roqe moment 119 – Political scientist and author Dr. Ali Fathollah-Nejad on Iranian foreign policy looking East toward like-minded autocracies… – Instagram

Part 20:

“Foreign Policy Under the Ayatollahs”

How are we to make sense of the way Iran has dealt with the world in the last 43 years? What has been the foreign policy approach between a stated mission of “non-alignment,” saber-rattling and uneven relations with the West, and an increasing turn towards the East? German-Iranian political scientist and Middle East expert, Dr. Ali Fathollah-Nejad, author of the new book, “Iran in an Emerging New World Order: From Ahmadinejad to Rouhani,” joins Jian Ghomeshi from Berlin for a wide-ranging conversation about Iranian foreign policy since the revolution of 1979 and its shifts, contradictions and continuities.

Part 19:

"The Evolution of Persian Music”

What was Persian music before the 20th Century? How do we assess the development of sound and musical traditions in Iran during the Safavid and Qajar eras – important influences that may be heard all the way to today? American musician and ethnomusicologist, Dr. Margaret Caton, author of the new book, “A Persian Ode: Musical Life in Safavid and Qajar Iran,” joins Jian Ghomeshi from Los Angeles for a fascinating, entertaining, and non-traditional journey through the sounds and music of Persia in the periods leading to modern Iran, examined within a broader socio-economic, cultural and political context.

Roqe moment 118 – Musician and Ethnomusicologist Dr. Margaret Caton on falling in love with Persian music and the sound of the santoor…. – Instagram

Part 18:

“From Arranged Marriage to White Marriage”

Roqe moment 116 – Historian and author Dr. Janet Afary on the evolving state of marriage in Iran and the rights of women in recent decades… – Instagram

Despite the abrogation of women’s rights and progressive family laws after the 1979 revolution, a fascinating new trend has emerged in modern Iran: Cohabitation of unmarried heterosexual partners where living spaces, rent, and groceries are shared – in defiance of laws that prevent such activity. Despite the condemnation of the Islamic Republic, the practise of so-called, “White Marriage” has emerged, where women and men in Iran voluntarily choose to live together without formal commitment, or fear of social and religious stigma, or fear of political consequences. Dr Janet Afary, the Mellichamp Chair in Global Religion and Modernity and a professor in Religious Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and the award-winning author of a new book, “Iranian Romance in the Digital Age,” joins Jian Ghomeshi from California to give context for the plight of women in Iran over the last century, the impact of the Pahlavi years and ’79 revolution on family laws and marriage conventions, and insights into why undocumented heterosexual cohabitations are rapidly becoming an urban norm under a regime that has banned them.

Part 17:

“The Triumph of the Green Wave”

In June of 2009, Iran witnessed a massive mobilization of protestors in its cities that became the largest demonstration of people power in the country since the revolution of 1979, triggered by fraudulent results in that year’s presidential election. The demonstrations reverberated around the world, but, in the aftermath, the regime remained in place, the election fraud was never overturned, and a fierce crackdown on the protestors ensued. So how do we assess the efficacy of the Green Movement, as it came to be known, in the decade and a half since? Dr. Pouya Alimagham, an Iranian-American historian, scholar, professor at MIT, and author of the recent book, “Contesting the Iranian Revolution: The Green Uprisings,” joins Jian Ghomeshi from Cambridge, Massachusetts, to make the unorthodox case that the Green Wave – using the tools of the 1979 revolution, itself – was not a failure at all, but a triumph that would pollinate future protest movements in Iran, and remains resonant today.

Roqe moment 114 – Historian and author Dr. Pouya Alimagham on why the Green uprising of 2009 was not a failure… – Instagram

Part 16:

“The Constitutional Revolution of 1906”

In the early 20th Century, in the midst of widespread discontent with the corruption and inefficacy of the Qajar Dynasty, a powerful movement formed and mobilized in Iran, aimed at changing the structure of the monarchy from despotic to constitutional, and to adopt representative governance by introducing the country to a parliamentary system. The Constitutional Revolution is considered a major turning point in the formation of modern Iran. Dr. Ali Massoud Ansari, a Professor of Iranian History and Founding Director of the Institute for Iranian Studies at the University of St. Andrews, joins Jian Ghomeshi from Fife, Scotland, to discuss what gave rise to the constitutionalists, the turbulent five year period in which the Constitution was established, and the unmet revolutionary goals of liberal secularism, parliamentary democracy, the containment of clerical dominance, and the limiting of the power of the monarchy, in the aftermath of the 1906 Revolution and the century that followed.

Roqe moment 112 – Historian and author Dr. Ali Ansari on Iranian concepts of “citizenship” and “rights” before the Constitutional Revolution of 1906… – Instagram

Part 15:

“The 1999 Student Uprising”

“The 1999 Student Uprising” – Part 15 of the Roqe Media series, The Contemporary History of Iran. In July of 1999, after the state censure and closing of a reformist-oriented newspaper, Iranian students, beginning at the University of Tehran, rose up against the regime with a unity, ideological solidarity and size that had not been seen in any kind of protest since the 1979 revolution. The student uprising has been called, Iran’s Tiananmen Square. Veteran journalist and former BBC Persian bureau chief, Mohammad Manzarpour, who was present at the protests as a student and a reporter (and was subsequently jailed), joins Jian Ghomeshi from Washington DC, to speak to this pivotal moment in recent Iranian history, the context, the aftermath and the legacy, and how an immediate violent backlash by the state would rattle a nascent reform movement and reconfirm the unbounded use of repression by the leaders of the Islamic Republic.

Roqe moment 110 – Journalist Mohammad Manzarpour on the bitter legacy of the 1999 student uprising in Iran… – Instagram

Today, we know America and Iran to be publicly declared enemies that engage in verbal sabre-ratting, threats, sanctions, and a tenuous on-and-off again nuclear deal. But what about the years before the rise of the Islamic Republic? If we look at the totality of the relationship between the United States and Iran before 1979, what might we find? Historian and Executive Director of the Middle East Center at the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. John Ghazvinian, author of the new book, “America and Iran: A History from 1720 to the Present,” joins Jian Ghomeshi from Philadelphia to detail that the answer seems to be the story of two nations who engaged in decades of mutual respect, admiration and overt cooperation all the way from the 18th Century through to, say, very warm relations between the last Shah of Iran and President Richard Nixon.

Roqe moment 109 – Historian and author Dr. John Ghazvinian on how Kennedy and the Shah did not fancy each other… – Instagram

Part 13:

“The Republic of Mahabad“

he Republic of Mahabad” – Part 13 of the Roqe Media series, The Contemporary History of Iran. What spawned a movement of Iranian Kurds searching for nationhood and unity dating back to the Constitutional Revolution of 1905? And how did Kurdish nationalism in Iran grow to reach its zenith with an independent – albeit, short-lived – independent Republic to realize the elusive dream of autonomy and self-government? And what would become of the Kurdish unity and power embodied in the Republic of Mahabad after it collapsed by the end of 1946? Historian and author, Dr. Abbas Vali, a professor of Modern Social and Political Theory in the Department of Sociology at Bospherous University, joins Jian Ghomeshi from Istanbul to discuss a fascinating moment in Iranian history and a pivotal event for Kurds around the world.

Part 12:

“The fall of Reza Shah”

“The Fall of Reza Shah” – Part 12 of the Roqe Media series, The Contemporary History of Iran. How did Reza Shah Pahlavi, the dynamic leader known as the “father of modern Iran,” who ascended to become the popular king of Iran in 1925, experience a dramatic, expeditious and ignominious fall from the throne in 1941? And how did he spend his final years in exile? Acclaimed historian Dr. Shaul Bakhash, author of a new book on the life of Reza Shah, joins Jian Ghomeshi from George Mason University to discuss Reza Shah’s forced abdication at the hands of the British after the invasion of Iran in 1941, the passing of the crown to his son Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, his unhappy flight into exile, and his final days as a shadow of his once powerful presence. This is the second of two conversations with Dr. Bakhash that follows Part 11 of the Contemporary History of Iran, “The Rise of Reza Shah.”

Part 11:

“The Rise of
Reza Shah”

“The Rise of Reza Shah” – Part 11 of the Roqe Media series, The Contemporary History of Iran. How did a man named Reza Khan, who came from modest means, become the ‘father of modern Iran’ and the founder of a new Iranian dynasty? Acclaimed historian Dr. Shaul Bakhash, author of a new book on the life of Reza Shah, joins Jian Ghomeshi from George Mason University to discuss Reza Shah’s evolution from military strongman, to Prime Minister, to King of Iran from 1925-1941, his remarkable role in a fundamental progressive transformation and centralization of the Iranian state, as well as his autocratic nature and rule by iron will that would leave him deeply unpopular by his final year in power. This is the first section of two conversations with Dr. Bakhash that will be followed by Part 12 of the Contemporary History of Iran, “The Fall of Reza Shah.”

Roqe moment 99 – Author and historian Dr. Shaul Bakhash on the growing enthusiasm for Reza Shah today…- Instagram

Part 10:

"The Persian Schindler"

“The Persian Schindler” – Part 10 of the new Roqe Media series, The Contemporary History of Iran. How did an Iranian diplomat with Qajar royal family lineage, who was the Console General in Nazi occupied Paris in 1942, help thousands of Iranian – and non-Iranian – Jews escape the Holocaust? And why was his heroic tale left untold for many years? Historian and writer, Dr. Fariborz Mokhtari, the author of “In the Lion’s Shadow: The Iranian Schindler and his homeland in the Second World War,” joins Jian Ghomeshi from Vermont to discuss the remarkable feats of Sardari, and what motivated Dr. Mokhtari to pursue this fascinating and, ultimately, heartbreaking saga.

Roqe moment 97 – Dr. Fariborz Mokhtari on how the Persian Schindler (Sardari) saved thousands of Jews from the Holocaust… – Instagram

Part 9:

“The Rise Of Opium“

“The Rise of Opium” – Part 9 of the new Roqe Media series, The Contemporary History of Iran. How is it that opium became an extremely popular substance for the citizens of Iran in the Qajar era, and reached a zenith in consumption and production in the early 20th Century? Was opium use always a negative? And when did it shift from a medicinal product that was eaten, to a recreational and dangerous drug that is smoked? Historian Dr. Rudi Matthee, author of, “The Pursuit of Pleasure: Drugs and Stimulants in Iranian History, 1500-1900,” joins Jian Ghomeshi from the University of Delaware to shed light on the dramatic rise of Persian opium use and cultivation in the 19th Century, and the roots of the current crisis of opioid addiction in modern-day Iran.

Roqe moment 95 – Historian Dr. Rudi Matthee on how Persians consumed opium the way Europeans drank wine… – Instagram

Part 8:

“The Shiraz Festival Complexities”

The Contemporary History of Iran. How did an annual international summer arts festival, the Shiraz Festival of Arts, celebrated for its innovation and unprecedented mix of progressive programming, part of a series of groundbreaking Pahlavi-led initiatives for culture in Iran, also become a lightning rod for contested symbolism, accusations of elitism, ideological debate, boycotts, the monarchy, and questions around the very nature of Iran itself? Art historian, curator and writer, Vali Mahlouji joins Jian Ghomeshi from London to discuss the rise of an event that led the world with its eclectic curatorial approach and transgressive liberalism, but that still inspires a paradox of emotions from nostalgia and pride, to controversy and debate.

Roqe moment 94 – Curator and writer Vali Mahlouji on “breaking the silence” about the Shiraz Festival of Arts… – Instagram

Part 7:

"Siahkal and the Failure of the Left"

“Siahkal and the Failure of the Left” – Part 7 of the new Roqe Media series, The Contemporary History of Iran. Why was the unsuccessful 1971 Marxist guerrilla action in the small northern town of Siahkal such a pivotal event that still gets named as a proud symbol of leftist resistance in Iran? And how do we explain the notable failure of the left in Iran to attain any semblance of power, despite wielding influence, throughout the 20th Century, and especially after the revolution of 1979? Dr. Maziar Behrooz, an Iranian-American historian, associate professor in the Department of History at San Francisco State University, and author of “Rebels With A Cause: The Failure of the Left in Iran,” joins Jian Ghomeshi from Berkeley, California, to shed light on the Siahkal incident and the plight of the Left – from the growth of the Communist Tudeh in the 1940s, to the crushing of leftist groups under Khomeini.

Roqe moment 93 – Author and historian Dr. Maziar Behrooz on the marginalized Left in the 1960s and why the Siahkal attack becomes a pivotal event… – Instagram

“The Story of Kayhan” – Part 6 of the new Roqe Media series, The Contemporary History of Iran. How did an Iranian daily newspaper that was, at its peak, the most influential media voice in the Middle East, come to be? How much impact did Kayhan have by the 1960s and 70s? How did it navigate editorial autonomy whilst being funded by the Shah? And how did a newspaper that had become identified for its powerful voice and support for the monarchy morph into a journal that is now an organ of the Islamic Republic? Acclaimed journalist, political analyst, and author, Amir Taheri, the man who served as Executive Editor-in-Chief of Kayhan in Iran from 1972-1979, joins Jian Ghomeshi from Paris to make the case that Kayhan in its heyday was a media monolith.

Roqe moment 90 – Journalist and former Kayhan Editor Amir Taheri on his final visits with Shah at the time of revolution… – Instagram

Part 5:

"The Creation Of Kanoon"

“The Creation of Kanoon” – Part 5 of the new Roqe Media series, The Contemporary History of Iran. What exactly was Kanoon? What is it today? And how did one of the most progressive systems for the cultural education and creativity of kids and teens – anywhere in the world – begin in Iran? The founder and Managing Director, from 1965-1979, of the Institute for Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults known as Kanoon, Lily Amir-Arjomand, also the former head of the National Library, and an associate professor at Tehran University, joins Jian Ghomeshi from Naples, Florida, to tell the story of the creation of an institution that began as a children’s library and grew into a model of integrative creative learning for kids that was a model for the world during the Pahlavi Dynasty, and continues to thrive today.

Roqe moment 93 – Author and historian Dr. Maziar Behrooz on the marginalized Left in the 1960s and why the Siahkal attack becomes a pivotal event… – Instagram

Part 4:

“How The Iran-Iraq War Benefited Khomeini”​

“How the Iran-Iraq War Benefited Khomeini” – Part 4 of the new Roqe Media series, The Contemporary History of Iran. How much did the new Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini regime actually benefit from a war that was declared a patriotic and religious national duty in the early 1980s? And, in fact, can it be argued that the consolidation of power by Khomeini and the Islamic formalists in the years during and after the conflict was actually only made possible by an 8-year war? Iranian-American scholar, Dr. Mateo Mohammad Farzaneh, associate professor of history at Northeastern Illinois University, and author of the new book, “Iranian Women & Gender in the Iran-Iraq War,” joins Jian Ghomeshi from Chicago to make the case that the longest war of the 20th Century actually served as a tool and necessary crisis to rally a divided and suddenly isolated Iranian nation, and cement the power of the Islamic Republic leaders.

Roqe moment 86 – Historian Dr. Mateo Mohammad Farzaneh on how Khomeini framed the Iran-Iran War as a religious mission and a “sacred defence”… – Instagram

Part 3:

"Farah Diba and The Rise of Iranian Art"​

“Farah Diba and the Rise of Iranian Art” - Part 3 of the new Roqe Media series, The Contemporary History of Iran. How much did young Queen Farah shape the trajectory of arts and culture for Iran in the mid-20th Century? And specifically, what was her impact and influence in bringing art, culture and museums to Iran in the 1960s and 70s? Iranian-American scholar, art advisor and curator, Dr. Layla Diba, the first woman museum director in Iran, joins Jian Ghomeshi from New York City to make the case that Farah Diba’s role was enormous during the final years of the Pahlavi era, in reshaping the collection, appreciation, and global recognition of Persian art for years to come.

Roqe moment 84 – Scholar and curator Dr. Layla Diba on Farah Diba’s attention to detail in supporting the arts in 1970s Iran… – Instagram

Part 2:

“The Americans And The ’53 Coup”​​

“The Americans and the ’53 Coup” – Part 2 of the new Roqe Media series, The Contemporary History of Iran. What exactly was the role of the United States in the removal of the popular Prime Minister Mossadegh in August 1953? And what was the American incentive to get involved? And how does that pivotal event affect American action on the foreign stage right up to today? Author and award-winning foreign correspondent, Stephen Kinzer joins Jian Ghomeshi from Boston, Massachusetts, to discuss his bestselling book, “All the Shah’s Men,” and the American role in an event that he believes reshaped the geopolitical history of the world.

Roqe moment 82 – Author and journalist Stephen Kinzer on the long-standing legacy of the 1953 coup in Iran… – Instagram

Part 1:

"From Shahyad To Azadi"​​

The premiere episode of a new Roqe Media series, The Contemporary History of Iran.

How did an iconic monument in Tehran that was a symbol of the Monarchy in the 1970s morph, almost overnight, into a symbol of an Islamic Republic?

Author and professor, Dr Talinn Grigor joins Jian Ghomeshi from Davis, California, to discuss the dramatic transformation of the Maydan-e Shahyad (“Shah’s Memorial Tower”) to the Maydan-e Azadi (“Freedom Tower”) after the 1979 revolution in Iran.

Roqe moment 79 – Dr. Talinn Grigor on the sustaining symbolic appeal of the Shahyad/Azadi Tower… – Instagram
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