'An assembly of old men and New Men:
the Senate in late Pahlavi Iran'
Considering the Iranian revolution in 1979 a pivotal and unanticipated event, Western research often engaged in an almost teleological historiography of the second Pahlavi period as directly leading up into the revolution. The question of how the Pahlavi monarchy was capable of successfully maintaining its rule for more than five decades (1925-1979), however, remains largely unanswered. Addressing this issue, this talk offers a closer look at “state- supporting” elements, i.e. individuals who were able to make use of Iran’s highly personalized power structure in order to realize their own interests and to promote economic, political, and social progress. Eminent among them are those senior figures whose loyalty to the Shah was rewarded with a prestigious post in the Senate (1948-1979). Since the Senate had little institutional influence, membership in it conferred no political power; nevertheless, it provided or enhanced status and can, therefore, serve as a criterion for a person’s elitist position. The talk will examine the history of this institution and present the biographies of selected senators, among them some prominent examples of Pahlavi Iran’s self-made New Men, whose personal ties within the country’s political and economic networks can give an insight into loyalty and leadership during Mohammad Reza Shah’s reign.
Dr Bianca Devos
Dr Bianca Devos is a Lecturer in Iranian Studies at the Center for Near and Middle Eastern Studies at the at Philipps-University of Marburg. She read Islamic Studies, Persian, Turkish, and Arabic as well as Management at Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg and at the University of Tehran.
In 2011 she took a doctorate in Iranian Studies from the Philipps-University of Marburg. Her research focuses on the Modern and Contemporary History of Iran. Recent publications by Dr Devos in this field include Culture and Cultural Politics Under Reza Shah. The Pahlavi State, New Bourgeoisie and the Creation of a Modern Society in Iran, edited by Bianca Devos und Christoph Werner (London: Routledge, 2014) and 'Iran's Cultural Policy under the Pahlavis, 1925-1979', in: Orient 55/2 (2014), pp. 26-30.