Apr. 13: “Sword of Freedom”

Abdulrahman Saif Azad (1884-1971) and Interwar Iranian Nationalism


Afshin Marashi, History, University of Oklahoma


Thursday, April 13th, 2017
5:00 – 7:00 pm


Richard Ettinghausen Library
Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies
50 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012

This talk will analyze the journalistic and political activities of Abdulrahman Saif Azad (1884-1971). Saif Azad is most commonly known for his editorship of the Tehran-based newspaper Iran-e Bastan (published between 1933-1935), a newspaper noted for its pro-Nazi sympathies and its glorification of Reza Shah and a pre-Islamic based Iranian nationalism. What is less often noted is the much broader constellation of political, cultural, and intellectual currents that Saif Azad was connected to during the most active period of his life. These currents included a complex blend of Islamism, Communism, Pan-Asianism, and anti-imperialism. Using an array of primary sources – including his own published writings, memoirs written by his associates, and other primary documents – this talk will situate Saif Azad within the global, transnational, and “proto-Third-Worldist” cultural, political, and ideological currents of the interwar era. The talk will suggest that Saif Azad’s life and work helps us to identify the much more complex array of ideological trajectories that were open to the early history of Iranian nationalism.