Staging a Revolution : The Art of Persuasion in the Islamic Republic of Iran
"The book's greatest feat is the degree of critical distance it brings to its volatile subject. I urge people to get a hold of this book, more than any other one considered here. It offers no comfort in its extensive demonology of martyrdom, intolerance, and oppression-engendered rage, but it provides its readers with a higher level of understanding than any hundred hours logged on CNN.com"
— Carlo McCormick, Bookforum
"Chelkowski...and his colleague Dabashi unroll a canvas as detailed as it it broad...This spectacularly illustrated volume is a serious and largely successful attempt to analyze a carefully orchestrated blend of verbal and visual rhetoric."
— Religion and the Arts
The Islamic Revolution in Iran was one of those remarkable historical events when the power of words and images successfully challenged the military might of an established state. From the fiery words of Ayatollah Khomeini, the charismatic leader of the Revolution, to revolutionary posters, banners, murals, graffiti, songs, and declamations, to the compelling symbols of its shared sacred history, an avalanche of public sentiments was mobilized by the leading figures of the revolutionary movement.
In Staging a Revolution, designed by award-winning Jonathan Barnbrook, Peter Chelkowski and Hamid Dabashi examine how this massive orchestration of public myths and collective symbols propelled the Islamic revolution of 1978-9 and the war with Iraq that followed from 1980 to 1988. Employing a wealth of primary sources from various active organs of the Islamic Republic, the authors demonstrate how popular belief and ritual were converted into stamps, banknotes, posters, even chewing gum wrappers, and directed towards mass mobilization for revolution and war. Staging Revolution represents a remarkable portrait of a pictorial revolution in which the interplay of sacred sensibilities, revolutionary action, and visual imagery were inextricably bound together.