The Positioning Of Iran And Iranians In The Origins Of Western Civilization

Author/s: Sheda Vasseghi, PhD
Availability: Open Access
Type: Dissertation
Year: 2017

Abstract: The purpose of this qualitative case study was to explore how a select sample of college-level history textbooks position Iran and Iranians in the origins of Western Civilization. Western Civilization history marginalizes, misrepresents, misappropriates, and/or omits Iran’s positioning (Kincheloe, 2004; Daryaee, 2005; Anvarinejad, 2007; Daragahi, 2010; Ahkami, 2014; Vahdati, 2014). Further, the mainstream approach to teaching Western Civilization history includes the Judeo-Christian-Greco-Roman narrative. The researcher used a multi-faceted theoretical approach—decolonization, critical pedagogy, and Western Civilization History dilemma—since this study transcended historical revisionism. This collective case study involved eleven Western Civilization history textbooks that, according to the College Board’s College-Level Examination Program (CLEP), are most popular among American college faculty. The researcher reviewed and collected expert opinion on the following five themes: (1) terminology and definition of Iran, Iranians, and Iranian languages; (2) roots and origins of Iranian peoples; (3) which Iranian peoples are noted in general; (4) which Iranian peoples in ancient Europe are specifically noted; and (5) Iranians in connection with six unique Western Civilization attributes. The researcher selected experts specializing in Iranian, Western Civilization, and Indo-European studies in formulating a consensus on each theme. The researcher then compared expert opinion to content in surveyed textbooks. This study found that the surveyed textbooks overwhelmingly omitted, ill-defined, misrepresented, or marginalized Iran and Iranians in the origins of Western Civilization.

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