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Course Description Fall 2008
SS282 Spirit in a World Without Spirit: The Cuban and Iranian Revolutions
Carol Benglesdorf, Berna Turam
Revolutions are rare and unique social revolts in human history against the habits of everyday life. The extraordinary qualities of revolutionary moments have always fascinated social scientists, artists, and others with historical and critical sensibilities. In this course we will study the Cuban and the Iranian revolutions and their distinct visions. These revolutions are different in their ideologies (one is Marxist and the other Islamic) and their modes of social mobilization (guerrilla movement vs. urban mass movement). Yet, they shared common aspirations and desires (both sought to overthrow repressive and corrupt governments allied with the U.S., both promised a radical utopian vision, and they both are dominated by modernizing states). In this course, we will look at different readings and meanings of revolutions in general and the Cuban and Iranian revolutions in particular. How does one interpret the intense movement we call revolution? How do scholars and intellectuals read these historically significant events? And more importantly, how do ordinary people narrate their experiences in these revolutions and what are their stories of hope and loss?