Prospects of Iranian Studies in Russia

Date of publication : February 29, 2016 22:25 pm
Prospects of Iranian Studies in Russia

Date: February 27, 2016
Time: 18:00 to 20:00 (GMT +3:30)
Venue: The IRAS Institute, Tehran, Iran
Lana Ravandi-Fadai, Senior Researcher, Institute of Oriental Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences
Mahmoud Shoori, Head of Eurasia Program, Center for Strategic Research; Senior Fellow, The IRAS Institute
In this event, Lana Ravandi-Fadai said:
“Iranian studies as an organized, institutionalized academic discipline in Russia emerged only in the middle of the 19th century, primarily in the imperial capital St. Petersburg with its wealth of museums and archives, and Russian scholars quickly began making significant contributions to the field. The onset of the Soviet period not only required new methodologies for scholarship, now based on a Marxist-Leninist approach, but was accompanied by a geographical shift in Iranian Studies: the capital of the new country was moved to Moscow, and the Moscow school began to develop more actively and in a different direction from Iranian studies in St. Petersburg.”
“To this day, St. Petersburg Iranian Studies retain something of their tsarist “Orientalist” roots and are better known for research on literature, culture and ancient manuscripts; while Moscow Iranian Studies, working closely with state bodies in Soviet times, continue to concentrate on the economics and politics of Iran.”
“The Soviet epoch also saw Baku, Tbilisi, Yerevan and Tashkent become new centers of Soviet Iranian Studies, with ample state support for their departments. The most politicized of these secondary “centers” was perhaps Baku, which focused on the question of Azeris in northern Iran. Tajikistan and Uzbekistan’s inclusion in the Soviet Union also affected scholarship, and many poets traditionally accepted as Persian were reborn as Tajik poets: Bilingual Soviet editions of their works often presented the “original” language as Tajik, printed in the modified Cyrillic alphabet of Tajikistan rather than in Persian script.”
“The collapse of the Soviet Union has yet again altered the landscape of scholarship on Iran, bringing ideological freedom and wider access to archives but also drastically reduced funding for research, especially in some of the poorer former republics, and sometimes resulting in research tainted by increasing nationalism. The opening up of borders and ongoing replacement of Russian by English as the international language of scholarship for countries of the former USSR is bringing much scholarship on Iran more in line with Western concerns.”
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