President Barack Obama's willingness for diplomacy with both friends and foes reflected the mood of a University conference presented Saturday and Sunday by the Rutgers Center for Middle Eastern Studies.
The panel, titled "The Iranian Revolution: Thirty Years," brought 16 scholars from all over the nation and globe to the conference held in Trayes Hall in the Douglass Campus Center.
Professors, researchers and authors from Harvard University, New York University, University of Copenhagen and the University of Toulouse attended, according to the event agenda. Director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies Jawid Mojaddedi said the department received a two-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education.
The lecture was divided into six panels covering topics ranging from "Changes in Iranian Society" to "Women in Post-revolutionary Iran," according to the agenda.
"It seems that recently there has not been a single author who has written about the Middle-East without overusing the words `jihad' and `intifada' throughout the work," said Panelist Firoozeh Kashani-Sabet, author and associate professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania. "I will attempt, as a historian, to go a bit further."
Because of the grant, Iranian Studies was given the opportunity to discuss an array of issues, all based on very focused work, Mojaddedi said.
"We were a bit spoiled when it came to choosing which papers to select, there were so many high quality papers. We tried to select ones that explored varied themes," Mojaddedi said.
The Islamic Revolution of 1979 brought religious reform to the country with the support of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini as its dictator, according to the New York Times.
Thirty years later, twenty years after Khomeini's death, the country is experiencing serious cultural changes, said Teaching Fellow Sina Mossayeb at Columbia University.
She said various quotas caused degradation to the university system in Iran, which caused over assimilation, marginalization and censorship.
"The central question is `Is Iran experiencing intellectual drain or does academic freedom prevail?'" Mossayeb said. "Clearly progress has been made but there is no denial that there are some Iranian policies that create marginalization and assimilation, which hinder the outset of intellectualism."
The censorship of academia can be seen in social and economic prohibitions, which affect the banking industry, home life and gender, said Julien Pelissier of the University of Toulouse in France.
The philosophy of the prohibitions laws caused muddled confusion and allowed for no profitability, as outlined in the legal framework of the Iranian Banking System, Pelissier said.
"The relationship between the Iranian Banking System and state policies is at the core of the many problems facing Iran's finance industry. When assessing the annual profitability one can see just how low it is at 0.2 percent," Pelissier said.
The reductions in its economy indirectly affected the country population, Kashani-Sabet said.
"During the 1960s, there was a reduction in child bearing because of health and economic necessities," she said. "There is a visible strain in women's absence of voice through historical continuity, and the silence of women is engrained in patriarchy … Islam was used by Iran to regulate some policy, but there was room for civil liberties."
The issue of the Iranian woman is a highly debated subject, said Hamideh Sedghi, author and professor at Harvard University.
The current Iranian government initiated new laws and reversed many of the previously held egalitarian policies for gender justice to address cyber-feminist and politics of resistance issues, she said.
"This is why cyber-feminists are protesting such gender-unfriendly policy. They hope to connect nationally and have their grievances heard globally," she said.
"[Cyber-feminist Web sites] will press for gender inclusion and improvement in the next presidential election, in June 2009. The clock cannot be stopped or turned back," she said.
Information on Iran and its policies and culture absorbed the attending public.
Bookstands from various organizations were also set up, including a stand set up by the Syracuse University Press.
There was a T-shirt stand featuring a "got falafel" shirt set up by sophomore Rokhsareh Eyvazkhany of the School of Arts and Sciences and junior Helia Jafarifesharaki of the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences.