BOOK IN FOCUS
Mehrzad Boroujerdi has coauthored, with Kourosh Rahimkhani, a new book entitled Postrevolutionary Iran: A Political Handbook. The book was published by Syracuse University Press. We have recently interviewed Professor Boroujerdi to learn about the book.
Would you give us a summary of your educational and professional background, your activities and your research?
I completed my doctoral studies in international relations at the American University and then spent two years at Harvard University and the University of Texas at Austin as a postdoctoral fellow. I came to Syracuse University in 1992, served as the founding director of the Middle Eastern Studies Program from 2003 to 2014, and then chaired the Political Science Department from 2014 to 2017. During the 2017-18 academic year I was a visiting scholar at UCLA Center for Near Eastern Studies as well as a fellow of the American Council on Education at California State University, Northridge. At Syracuse, I have taught such MES-related courses as Politics of the Middle East, Politics of Iran, Islam and Politics in Asia, Representations of the Middle East, International Relations of the Middle East, and Social Theory and the Middle East.
Can you tell us about your book, Postrevolutionary Iran: A Political Handbook, with Kourosh Rahimkhani?
Postrevolutionary Iran: A Political Handbook, which came out in 2018, is a massive book (853 pages). The book addresses two main shortcomings in the study of Iranian politics. The first part provides 40 years (1979-2019) of electoral data, information on more than 400 political parties, an extensive political chronology, and detailed data on major institutions of power in Iran (office of the Supreme Leader, President, Parliament, Guardian Council, etc.). The second half of the book provides biographical sketches of 2,300 politicians since the very first day of the Revolution. This is the largest data set on political elites in any Middle Eastern or North African country. The book also has a section on family ties among the elite.
How did publishing this book change your process of writing?
This is the third book I have published with Syracuse University Press. My first two books, Iranian Intellectuals and the West: Tormented Triumph of Nativism (1996) and Mirror for the Muslim Prince: Islam and Theory of Statecraft (2013) were mainly works of intellectual history. The new book is based on extensive empirical research. Indeed, it took 14 years to collect the data that has been assembled in the book. I came away from this experience with a much better appreciation for those who do large-scale data collection.
One of your areas of specialty is Middle Eastern politics. As you can see in the news, Middle Eastern politics is ever changing. Can you describe the importance that Middle Eastern politics has in this globalized world?
Someone once said that Middle East is no Las Vegas. What happens there does not stay there. We are all impacted with events in that part of the world. Oil, long-running Arab-Israeli dispute, wars in Iraq and Syria, the fight against ISIS, and problems of refugees and immigrants are just a few examples of how Middle Eastern politics has impacted the rest of the world. In other words, even if you are not interested in politics in the Middle East, it is interested in you. This is the message I try to convey to my students as I try to get them to understand the complexities of this region.