Note by Janet Afary and Kevin B. Anderson: In 1978, as the protests against the shah were becoming a mass movement, Michel Foucault made his first visit to Iran. During the next eight months, Foucault wrote a number of articles on the Iranian Revolution for “Corriere della Sera,” “Le Monde,” and other publications. These articles constitute the most sustained treatment anywhere in his writings of a non-Western society. Foucault's support for Iran's Islamist movement touched off a controversy that continues to this day.
This conversation, conducted in Iran in September of 1978 with the noted writer Baqir Parham, includes Foucault's first reflections on the Iranian Revolution. In addition, it connects his concern with Iran to his larger critique of Western modernity. It shows how his search for new forms of resistance to modernity had led him to look at religious revolts.
This dialogue was published in “Nameh-yi Kanun-i Nevisandegan” (Publication of the Center of Iranian Writers), No. 1, Spring 1979, pages 9–17. It has been translated from the Persian by Janet Afary. We thank Baqir Parham and the University of Chicago Press for permission to publish this material in “Dædalus.”