Marking 40 years since the revolution, the 2019 Middle East Studies Forum examined the legacies and questions what is in store for the future of the Islamic Republic of Iran.  Over a series of panels the 2019 MESF Symposium explores the political ramifications at both the domestic and international level, the ideological trajectory and how these ideas have shaped the social and political context of the Islamic Republic.

Middle East Studies Forum convener, Professor Shahram Akbarzadeh opened the symposium discussing how the perception of Iran has shifted from a beacon of hope for the downtrodden that was promised in the 1979 revolution, Iran is now increasingly seen as a troublemaker in the region. This presentation set the tone for the symposium and the subsequent presentations built on the idea of shifting dynamics within the political landscape.

Over the course of the day panels examined the politics of the Islamic Republic and key players including the use of religious discourse in Hezbollah’s decision-making process (Dr. Mariam Farida, UNSW), the debate around nuclear-powered Iran or nuclear-armed Iran (Ms. Firouzeh Khoshnoudiparast, ANU) and closing with an examination of the future of China-Iran relations (Dr. Dara Conduit, Deakin University).

The second panel considered the ideological transformation of Iran in the last 40 years.  Questions were asked around the idea of secular religiosity and de-governmentalizing Shi’ism (Dr. Naser Ghobadzadeh, ACU) the challenges facing of women’s movements (Ms. Azadeh Davachi, Deakin University), the transformation of discourse used in election campaigns in the post-revolution landscape (Dr. Mahmoud Pargoo, ACU) and concluding with an assessment of the future for Iran (Prof. Shahram Akbarzadeh, Deakin University).

The final panel focused on the cultural legacies left by the revolution. Presentations examined the role of Iranian literature and cinema and its limited global presence (Dr. Laetitia Nanquette, UNSW), the architectural legacies and the co-production of the past (Dr. Ali Mozaffari, Deakin University) and the place of religious minorities and identity since 1979 (Dr. James Barry, Deakin University).

These panels brought together a diverse range of ideas and questions about the legacies left by the revolution, 40 years later.