Facing Satan: The Iranian Revolution and Its Demons

Alireza Doostdar
Feb 14, 2024, 12:15 pm1:15 pm
Free, Open to the Public



Event Description



The 1979 Revolution gave birth to a political order that defined God as its greatest protector and Satan as its ultimate foe. While scholars have long grappled with the Islamic Republic’s theological master narratives, Satan’s multifaceted role in the Iranian political and religious landscape remains poorly understood. In this talk, I explore Iranian encounters with Satan not merely as a mythical embodiment of evil but as a complex person with desires and frustrations, achievements and disappointments. I ask how a view of Satan as a historic persona can help us better understand political theology in postrevolutionary Iran.


Alireza Doostdar is Associate Professor of Islamic Studies and the Anthropology of Religion and Director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Chicago. His research is broadly focused on religion and politics in modern Iran. His first book, The Iranian Metaphysicals: Explorations in Science, Islam, and the Uncanny (Princeton University Press, 2018) was awarded the Albert Hourani Book Award from the Middle East Studies Association and the Vincent Sutlive Book Prize from the Anthropology Department at William & Mary. His next book, also under contract with Princeton, is a study of Satan in postrevolutionary Iran.

Alison Cummins