Although I don’t like to generalize anything, I find that a common misconception exists among citizens of the western world, especially with most of my fellow Americans: Iran was always a fundamental Islamic nation that has pitted itself against the western world, looking to deter the influence and supremacy of the west in any way possible. While this is certainly true in the modern day, Iran, like all other nations, has been shaped into what it is today. While Iran was never a colony and had a relative amount of freedom compared to its other middle eastern counterparts during the age of European colonialism, the prevailing ideas that would govern the nation have undergone sweeping changes in the span of the 20th century. During the reign of the first shah, westernization was actually a concept that was embraced by the Iranian government, albeit with some backlash from the Islamic clerics that had always been present in the nation. In fact, the new shah’s rather radical goal of transforming Iron into a western powerhouse would have been rejected outright by the Qajar dynasty that had ruled Iran for hundreds of years prior to 1925. Yet westernization would truly appear front and center of Iranian policy during the white revolution, which was instituted during the reign of the second and last shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi. The White Revolution would aim to change the core cultural values and ideals of Iran, which had more or less stuck to a strict code of Islamic norms since its founding. Yet this would all change in the 60 years after the white revolution, bringing us to the present state of Iran. In this discussion with Professor Marie Ostby, I try to get a better understanding of how this change in Iran throughout the last 60-70 years came about, and how the Iranian populace viewed it and reacted to it. Along the way, we discuss the literary, artistic and film movements that sought to capture both the government’s and the civilian’s voices throughout the different eras of Iran. How did these changes come about? What inspired the populace to voice their concerns or keep to themselves about sensitive matters? How did women engage in this patriarchal society, and has their influence shaped Iran today? How have these changes manifested themselves today? What about the future? These are questions that I wanted to explore throughout this interview. I am glad to say that Professor Ostby is an extremely talented academic who has offered me with a wealth of knowledge regarding this issue. It was an amazing opportunity to be able to talk to a person who is so passionate about such an issue. Along the way, we happened to discuss Professor Ostby’s own personal experience in the Middle East/Persia and how it has impacted her on a personal level. Tune in to this episode to hear the inspiring, myth-busting conversation I had with Professor Ostby. At the end of the day, my job is to get one step closer to breaking political correctness!
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