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The Origins of Dabestān: Mīrzā Ḥasan Rushdīyeh and the Quest for New Education

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 January 2022

Navid Zarrinnal*
Affiliation:
Department of Middle Eastern, South Asia, and African Studies at Columbia University

Abstract

Mīrzā Ḥasan Rushdīyeh (1860(?)–1944) was a lower-ranking Azeri-Iranian cleric, constitutionalist, and educational reformer who was a major pioneer of new (jadīd) primary schools in Iran. This article shows that in 1889 Rushdīyeh, through training he had received in Beirut, introduced new schools into Iran based on changed pedagogy and modern disciplines. It argues that although the schools drew fierce opposition from maktab custodians and certain Qajar courtiers, they gradually increased in authority until the Reza Shah state appropriated them, with some modifications, as normative schooling called the dabestān. In English and Persian scholarship, we lack a substantial history of Rushdīyeh’s new schools. Drawing on previously unexamined sources, including his Iran and Ottoman diaries, this article examines Rushdīyeh’s educational work in the broader intellectual and political history of the period.

Type
Change and Continuity: Late Qajar Period
Copyright
Copyright © Association For Iranian Studies, Inc 2021

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Footnotes

The author would like to thank his dissertation committee members Hamid Dabashi, Ervand Abrahamian, Wael Hallaq, and Sudipta Kaviraj for fruitful conversations on this project. Gratitude is also due to Aria Fani and Saeed Honarmand for their feedback. Further thanks to Tehran-based scholar and archivist Muhammad Baghāyī Shīreh’Jīnī for generous direction, and Behdokht Roshdieh for providing her archival material. Unless otherwise stated, all translations are by the author.

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