The 2500th Anniversary Celebrations and Cultural Politics in Late Pahlavi Iran
Date: 17 December 2018
University of Exeter
PhD in Arab and Islamic Studies
This thesis presents a thorough investigation of the 2500th Anniversary Celebrations of the Founding of the Persian Empire by Cyrus the Great, held in Persepolis by the Shah of Iran in 1971. Since the time of the Celebrations they have been routinely demonised by historians and critics of the Pahlavi regime, who present them as evidence ...
This thesis presents a thorough investigation of the 2500th Anniversary Celebrations of the Founding of the Persian Empire by Cyrus the Great, held in Persepolis by the Shah of Iran in 1971. Since the time of the Celebrations they have been routinely demonised by historians and critics of the Pahlavi regime, who present them as evidence of the delusion and megalomania of an Oriental despot. The purpose of this thesis is to provide a more sober, balanced account of the events of 1971 and the preparations leading up to them, in order to understand more fully the aims and motivations of the Shah and his entourage in organising such a nationalist spectacle. It will argue that Iran benefitted greatly from the international exposure the event generated, politically, economically and culturally. Most accounts of the Celebrations have focussed primarily on the sumptuous Pahlavi hospitality, enjoyed by the world’s elite over the course of a few days in purpose-built accommodation at Persepolis, the former ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid dynasty. In contrast, the premise of this thesis is that the ceremonies at Persepolis and Pasargadae were just a small, albeit highly visible, part of the programme for the Celebrations. From the time the Celebrations were conceived in the late 1950s, exhibitions were organised, publications commissioned and buildings constructed. All were intended to contribute to the development and modernisation of Iran, and all were conceived with the Anniversary Celebrations in mind. Internationally too, the Celebrations aroused great interest. Hundreds of books and articles were published in conjunction with the event, and museum exhibitions, academic conferences and other special cultural events were organised around the world, giving an important boost to the field of Persian studies worldwide. Meanwhile, the Shah’s Iran was presented as a significant regional and global power. This thesis will contribute, therefore, to our understanding of the Celebrations, and more broadly the material effects of the politicisation of culture in the late Pahlavi period.
Item views 0
Full item downloads 0