Alireza Doostdar, Assistant Professor at the University of Chicago Divinity School will give a workshop for our faculty and graduate students on Tuesday, September 8. Professor Doostdar will be presenting his new work, Satan Conquered, the first book to offer an anthropological analysis of the historically-shifting ways in which Iranians have contended with Islam’s archetype of evil.
The Islamic Revolution of 1979 gave birth to a political order that defined God as its greatest protector and Satan as its ultimate foe. While scholars of Iran have long grappled with the Islamic Republic’s theological master narratives, Satan’s multifaceted role in the Iranian political and religious landscape remains poorly understood. Satan Conquered is the first book to offer an anthropological analysis of the historically-shifting ways in which Iranians have contended with Islam’s archetype of evil. The book considers a wide variety of ethnographic, textual, and audiovisual sources—from the mystical treatises of Ayatollah Khomeini and contemporary politicians’ worries over divine punishment to messianic speculation, spiritual cinema, anti-Satanist activism, and heavy metal music. Satan Conquered argues that while Ayatollah Khomeini succeeded in uniting a revolutionary community in opposition to Satan, his followers’ confrontations with the Accursed One have fragmented into contradictory, anxiety-ridden struggles for the soul of the Islamic Republic.