The Book Review Meeting Report of “A History of the University in Iran” by MaghsoudFarasatkhah and NasrinAsgharzadeh

According to the public relations department of the Research Institute for Social and Cultural Studies of the Ministry of Science, Research and Technology, the book “A History of the University in Iran” by MaghsoudFarasatkhah and NasrinAsgharzadeh, published by the Research Institute for Social and Cultural Studies, held on Tuesday, October 9th, 2018 in collaboration with the Sociological Scientific Association of TarbiatModares University, Iranian National Commission for UNESCOand the Iranian Sociological Association. At the meeting, Dr. Mohammad Fazeli and Dr. NasrinNurshahi criticized this book.

In a speech at the meeting, Mohammad Fazelisaying that the importance of the book is to show that the university is not athoughtless institution in Iranian society, he added over the past 50 years, it has been said that we took the university but we did not understand what happened. He continued: A historical research should show why and how our previous notions have not been tested. The author in this book shows that our confrontation with the university was not a cursory encounter, and the university in Iran faced with other Iranian institutions about 200 years. So there was a social demand for a university in Iran. The confrontation with the West raised profound questions for intellectuals and decision-makers, and the university was founded to answer these questions.

Fazeli, while pointing out the important ideas in the book, emphasized: There are important ideas in this book, one of which is the concept of border actors; those who have set the history of the university, have a foot in the university and government, and they are no greenhouse or power creatures. If Foroughi, Isa Sadiq and … founded the university, there were those who were moving on the border of these two and were able to move ideas from within the Iranian community.

NasrinNurshahialso expressed his comments on the book at the meeting and said: “This book transmits the reader to the history of the ups and downs of Iran and maybe repeatedly tells the reader to say” History is repeated “and how much in our history, mistakes and lack of learningare repeated. Farasatkhah has madebeautifully a boast to the audiencethese ups and downs andlack of learning.

She continued: The book has five chapters and in the chapter of “the university during Iranian Revolution”, the writer could also investigatethe social history of the 1980s.Also, on page 30 of the book, the religious fanatical dogmas that have hampered scientific development in Iran have been mentioned. But did not we have the same dogmatism and fanaticism in Europe and America, and people have not been executed for the sake of new knowledge and discoveries contrary to the church’s mentality? So, there was bias in that society, but why has this happened in Iran? What is happening there, where religion and church establish the university, but not in Iran?

Farasatkhah, the author of the book”A History of the University in Iran” also presented explanations for the book and the criticisms made by the critics and said: In Europe, the Social was strong and the society was resilient, so the social institutions emerged. When we compare Iran to Europe, we see that it was strong there, but in Iran there has been a strong government with a weak society! Since then, the university has lived in spite of all the problems, because there the university was not disappointed and continued to workand was not affiliated with the government. So if in Europe or somewhere,the thinker was tried, radical work was done elsewhere. But in Iran there has been some kind of domination and authority everywhere.

He continued: The scientific revolution criticized the school and educational traditions in the European cities. There was critique in tradition and on tradition, and there were challenges in the tradition, and as a result, the tradition was beaten, practiced, endured austerity and changed. So there was a dialectical tradition through which the university went ahead and stepped forward. I do not say at all that the university in Europe was the result of the church, but the result of the challenges inside and outside the church. So although the church was not the cause of the university, it provided a context for social change.
Farasatkhah added:Although Reza Shah helped to change Iran and modernize it, anywayhe was Shah, and for many years resisted against it, but the border intellectuals played a more important role in this regard.

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