From the domain of certitude to the relational realm: U.S. Missions in Iran and the Politics of piecemeal social change
Citation:HANISEK, JOEL FEURT, From the domain of certitude to the relational realm: U.S. Missions in Iran and the Politics of piecemeal social change, Trinity College Dublin.School of Religion, 2019
Hardbound_Hanisek_CorrrectedThesis_20May2019.pdf (PhD thesis, examined and approved) 3.076Mb
Methodologically this thesis employs a modified microhistorical approach to small social units alongside ethical reflection on historical events and persons. A critical theory method is also utilized in combination with situational analysis. Textual analysis is also used, particularly in relation to mission documents as sources of overlooked cultural, social, legal, and political information. This research advances the study of religion in the form of the study of the missionary origins of U.S.-Iranian relations and fills a critical historical gap in the study of U.S.Iran relations before the 1953 coup d’état. Using the above methodologies this thesis identifies the nineteenth and twentieth-century U.S. missions in Iran as having been largely unreflective on their own intellectual entanglement with historical strands of Middle Eastern Christianity and holds that evangelical dependency upon Iranian dynastic power, while mediated by royal orders (farman) and enabled by the regional and relational politics resulting from a weak central government, formed an integral part of the Qajar strategy to contest the power of Shi’i ulama, before being largely eclipsed by Reza Shah’s program of authoritarian modernization. In the above context this work found the following: that the presence of U.S. missionaries in Iran had significantly detrimental effects on community cohesion across ethno-national lines, despite simultaneously standing as an early achievement in the intercultural relationship between the U.S. and Iran; that in the absence of understanding or admiration attempts at textually based minority/majority religious transmission, where correctness is a guiding value, are prone to conflict; that understanding is a key to navigating difference in environments where internationaldynamics place a primary accent on alterity; that a preference for integrative action and an epistemological dogmatic-normativity remained the organizing logic of U.S. missions in Iran, despite the meliorating influence of a motive force of compassion traceable to the intellectual roots of these missions; that the apparatus of U.S. foreign missions remains underappreciated in its importance as site of contention in QajarShi’i power politics, as a site of national formation in the development of Assyrian culture, and as a site of innovation in the larger history of Iranian educational and political reform; that a reciprocal relationship exists between the operation of zeal, with its capacity to act as a driver of political change, and the cultivation of solidarity; that U.S. missions in Iran historically demonstrated a marginal but persistent preference for pragmatic solutions to intercultural problems and that this was linked in positive terms to manifestations of intercultural solidarity; that the pragmatic preference of U.S. missions in Iran depended significantly upon the categories of work and education to access a state of transformative potential capable of cultural synthesis; that the model of cultural change organized around additive properties and experiential methodology preferred by U.S. missions in Iran needed not be imperialist in aspect; that U.S. mission work in Iran provided both a space of liberation for U.S. women and a related space of freedom for Iranian women, which was conducive to indigenous social reform efforts, as well as personal educational development.
Author: HANISEK, JOEL FEURT
Publisher:Trinity College Dublin. School of Religion. Discipline of Religions and Theology
Type of material:Thesis
Availability:Full text available