by Anne Foreman, OLLI member
Born in Tehran, Iran, Dariush Zahedi came to the United States in 1980 at the age of 13 and now has dual American-Iranian citizenship. He is currently a lecturer in political science at UC Berkeley. He received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Southern California in 1998 and was a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard University's Center for Middle Eastern Studies.
His book The Iranian Revolution Then and Now: Indicators of Regime Instability is an in-depth account of Iran's history throughout the 20th century, with extensive detail on the myriad forces--military, economic, political, religious, social--and the many people involved in the 1979 revolution.
He regularly visited relatives in Iran until 2003 when he was arrested on spy charges and imprisoned in the infamous Evin prison in Tehran for 4 months. He was released on $250,000 bail and later acquitted of the spy charges after a trial in the Revolutionary Court. Since then, he no longer visits Iran.
He recently spent 18 months in Turkey as a visiting professor at two universities-Bilkent University in Ankara and Zirve University in Gaziantep.
Zahedi is currently establishing a new program to be called "Islam, Entrepreneurship and Democracy" under the auspices of the Institute of International Studies at UC Berkeley to study modernization in Islamic countries. The program will sponsor lectures and conferences and also have a research component to collect data on all Islamic countries from colonization to today. With this data, researchers will be able to analyze and measure the modernization process. Which countries have successfully harnessed entrepreneurship and democracy to modernize? What are the underlying causes of the successes and the failures? What are the key variables? What went right? What went wrong?