Civil Liberties and the Making of Iran’s First Constitution

This article was published in Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, Duke U. Press, Vol. 25, No. 2, 2005.


It is a commonplace these days to speak of historical narratives that are mythologized by subsequent generations. Not only political revolutions, which are by their very nature elusive and fraught with contradictions, but also political documents created in the midst of major social upheaval experience such multiple readings. Generations of Americans have taken great pride in the 1776 Declaration of Independence and its pronouncement that “all Men are created equal” and have the “inalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” Debates continue, however, on the process through which this text was written and the fact that it cannot easily be reconciled with the 1787 constitution that legitimized slavery in the United States.

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