Profile picture of book publisher Mateo Farzaneh

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Mateo Farzaneh fell in love with reading history and biographies at a young age. Now the Northeastern Illinois University assistant professor of History has written one and is set to promote his new book, “The Iranian Constitutional Revolution and the Clerical Leadership of Khurasani,” published in March by Syracuse University Press.

The first stop on his nationwide campus tour is the University of Chicago’s Persian Circle on Oct. 14. He is also slated for book talks on college campuses in California, Oklahoma and Texas during the next academic year.

“This will be my first time doing the book talks and I am excited about it,” Farzaneh said.

“The Iranian Constitutional Revolution and the Clerical Leadership of Khurasani” provides an overview of the political history of Iran in the 19th and early 20th centuries and the ideas of renowned cleric Mulla Muhammad Kazim Khurasani. The Constitutional Revolution (1906-1911) was the 20th century’s first such political movements in the Middle East. Khurasani, a Shiite jurist, scholar and spiritual leader, was a leading advocate of constitutionalism.

In fact, that’s where the book delivers the most amount of information based on Farzaneh’s detailed textual analysis. In 2005, while pursuing his Ph.D. at the University of California at Santa Barbara, Farzaneh, an Iranian-American, began researching Iran’s history and the Iranian constitution for his dissertation. His findings also led him to the views of Khurasani’s push for progressive reforms to launch a new era of secular politics and clerical involvement in constitutionalism in Iran.

“[Khurasani] had a lot to do with the success of the revolution,” said Farzaneh, who migrated to the United States as a teenager. “I thought although he was interesting enough, nothing significant had really been written about him and his leadership role.”

Farzaneh, who delivered a brief talk about the process of publishing his book followed by a book-signing event at the Pedroso Center last month, has three other works in progress. His next book explores the reasons why the Iranian Imperial Army failed to protect the last monarchical regime in 1979; another is the history of women’s role in the Iran-Iraq War and their contributions as combat volunteers, intelligence officers, medics and nurses; and the third is a memoir of his time in Iran and his experience during the 1979 Revolution and the Iran-Iraq War in which he volunteered as a junior medic in the Iranian Red Crescent between the ages of 14-16.