Academics' Declaration of Support for Iranian Demonstrators

Open letter of support to the demonstrators in Iran

Friday 19 June 2009

This morning Ayatollah Ali Khamenei demanded an end to the massive and forceful demonstrations protesting the controversial result of last week’s election. He argued that to make concessions to popular demands and ‘illegal’ pressure would amount to a form of ‘dictatorship’, and he warned the protestors that they, rather than the police, would be held responsible for any further violence.

Khamenei’s argument sounds familiar to anyone interested in the politics of collective action, since it appears to draw on the logic used by state authorities to oppose most of the great popular mobilisations of modern times, from 1789 in France to 1979 in Iran itself. These mobilisations took shape through a struggle to assert the principle that sovereignty rests with the people themselves, rather than with the state or its representatives.  ‘No government can justly claim authority’, as South Africa’s ANC militants put it in their Freedom Charter of 1955, ‘unless it is based on the will of all the people.’

Needless to say it is up to the people of Iran to determine their own political course. Foreign observers inspired by the courage of those demonstrating in Iran this past week are nevertheless entitled to point out that a government which claims to represent the will of its people can only do so if it respects the most basic preconditions for the determination of such a will: the freedom of the people to assemble, unhindered, as an inclusive collective force; the capacity of the people, without restrictions on debate or access to information, to deliberate, decide and implement a shared course of action.

Years of foreign-sponsored ‘democracy promotion’ in various parts of the world have helped to spread a well-founded scepticism about civic movements which claim some sort of direct democratic legitimacy. But the principle itself remains as clear as ever: only the people themselves can determine the value of such claims.

We the undersigned call on the government of Iran to take no action that might discourage such determination.

AGAMBEN, Giorgio, Università IUAV di Venezia, Venice

ALAMDARI, Kazem, California State University, Los Angeles

ALLIEZ, Eric, Middlesex Universtiy, UK

AMSLER, Sarah S., Language and Social Sciences, Aston University, Birmingham

ANDERSON, Kevin B., Professor of Sociology and Political Science, University of California, Santa Barbara

ASAD, Talal, Graduate Center, City University of New York

BADIOU, Alain, École Normale Supérieure, Paris

BALIBAR, Etienne, Paris X, Nanterre, and University of California, Irvine

BALKAN, Nesecan,Hamilton College

BANUAZIZI, Ali, Professor of Political Science and Director, Program in Islamic Civilization and Societies, Boston College

BAYAT, Asef, Professor of Sociology and Middle East Studies, Leiden University

BEHROOZ, Maziar, Associate Professor of Middle East History, San Francisco State University

BENHABIB, Seyla, Eugene Meyer Professor of Political Science and Philosophy, Yale University, New Haven

BEYER, Vera, Kunsthistorisches Institut der Freien Universität Berlin

BIENIEK, Adam, Jagiellonian University, Chair of Arab Studies, Institute of Oriental Philology, Cracow, Poland

BOCHENSKA, Joanna, Dept. of Kurdish Studies, Jagiellonian University, Cracow, Poland

BOGDAN, Jolan, Dept. of Visual Cultures, Goldsmiths College, UK

BOSTEELS, Bruno Bosteels, Cornell University

BRAULT, Pascale-Anne, Professor of French, Dept. of Modern Languages, DePaul University

BRUNO, Michael, Dept. of Philosophy, Lewis and Clark College, Portland, OR

BRUSTAD, Kristen, Associate Chair, Dept. Of Middle Eastern Studies, University of Texas at Austin

BURGE, Tyler, University of California, Los Angeles

BURGERS, Jan-Willem, Australian National University

BUTLER, Judith, University of California, Berkeley

BUTT, Gavin, Senior Lecturer & Programme Leader in MPhil / PhD,

CARDIN, Maryam, IUT of the University of Marne-la-vallée

CHOMSKY, Noam, MIT, Cambridge MA USA

COHEN, Joshua, Stanford University

COLE, Juan R. I., Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History, University of Michigan

DABASHI, Hamid, Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature, Columbia University, New York

DE CARO, Mario, Dept. of Philosophy, University of Rome

DI LUCIA COLLETI, Laura, Conseillor Province of Venice

DOGRAMACI, Sinan, University of Texas at Austin

DOLEZALEK, Isabelle, Freie Universität Berlin

DOMINIAK, Piotr, Chairman of ASK Association in Raciborz, Poland

DORFMAN, Vladimiro Ariel, Duke Universtiy, Durham, North Carolina

DÜTTMANN, Alexander Garcia, Goldsmiths College

EHSANI, Kaveh, Assistant Professor of International Studies, DePaul University

EISENSTEIN, Zillah, Professor of Politics, Ithaca College

ENGELMANN, Stephen, University of Illinois at Chicago

EPSTEIN, Barbara, History of Consciousness Dept., University of California, Santa Cruz

FALK, Richard, Professor of International Law Emeritus, Princeton University

FARHI, Farideh, Dept. of Political Science, University of Hawai’i at Manoa


FASY, Thomas M., Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York City

FATIMA KHAN, Mahruq, Assistant Professor of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

FIELD, Hartry, Professor of Philosophy, New York University

FORAN, John, Professor of Sociology, University of California, Santa Barbara

FRIEDLAND, Roger, Professor of Religiou Studies and Sociology, UCSB

GAJEWSKA, Katarzyna, University of Poland

GANDJBAKHSH, Amirhosseing, Research Director, National Health Institute, Washington DC

GANZ, David, Universität Konstanz, Germany

GARRETT, Don, Dept. of Philosophy, New York University

GASIOROWSKI, Mark, Political Science and International Studies, Louisiana State University

GLOGOWSKI, Aleksander, Jagiellonian University, Cracow, Poland

GODMILOW, Jill, University of Notre Dame

GOLE, Nilufer, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris

HÁJEK, Alan, Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University

HALLWARD, Peter, Middlesex University, UK

HASHEMI, Nader, Assistant Professor of Middle East and Islamic Politics

HEGASY, Sonja, Zentrum Moderner Orient, Berlin

HERRERA, Linda, Institute of Social Studies (The Hague)

HIBBARD, Scott, DePaul University, Chicago

HOEFERT, Almut, University of Basel

HONNETH, Axel, University of Frankfurt, Germany

IVEKOVIC, Rada, Collège international de philosophie, Paris, Université Jean-Monnet, Saint-Etienne

JIMENEZ, Maria, Université Paris Sorbonne, Paris IV

KAPLINSKY, Raphael, Professor of International Development, The Open University, UK

KESHAVARZIAN, Arang, Associate Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, New York University

KHOSROVANI, Sahar, University of Maastricht

KORBEL, Josef, School of International Studies, University of Denver

KOWALIK, Tadeusz, professor of economics and humanities, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw

KOWALSKA, Beata, Jagiellonian University, Poland

KOZLOWSKI, Pawel, Professor of economics, Polish Academy of Sciences

KUMAR, Victor, University of Arizona

LARRIVÉE, Pierre, Aston University, Birmingham

LEMISCH, Jesse, Professor Emeritus, History, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York, USA

MARTINON, Jean-Paul, Dept. of Visual Cultures, Goldsmiths College, UK

MASROUR, Farid, Dept. Of Philosophy, New York University

MCFARLAND, Andrew, Political Science Dept., University of Illinois,

MCINTYRE, Michael, International Studies, DePaul University, Chicago

MEHDIZADEH, Hamidreza, Illinois Institute of Technology

MEMMI, Paul, Paris Ouest Nanterre la Défense

MOALLEM, Minoo, UC Berkeley

MORUZZI, Norma Claire, University of Illinois at Chicago, Political Science, History, Gender and Women’s Studies

MOSES, Claire G., Dept. of Women’s Studies, University of Maryland

MOSHTAGHI, Nazgol, University of South Florida

NAST, Heidi, DePaul University, Chicago

NATCHKEBIA, Irina, Tbilisi University

NEGRI, Antonio, Collège International de Philosophie

NESPOULOUS, Jean-Luc, Université de Toulouse, Le Mirail et Institut Universitaire de France

NOYAU, Colette, Dépt des Sciences du langage, CNRS, Université Paris-Ouest

OBDRZALEK, Suzanne, Dept of Philosophy, Claremont McKenna College

PATTERSON, Ian, Director of Studies in English,  Queens’ College Cambridge

PETTIT, Philip, University Center for Human Values, Princeton University

PHELPS, Christopher, Dept. of History, The Ohio State University

PIRVELI, Marika, Szczecin University, Poland

POTTER, Robert, Professor Emeritus, University of California, Santa Barbara, USA

PRÉVOST, Sophie, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris

PRINZ, Jesse, Professor of Philosophy, City University of New York

PROUST, Joëlle, Director of Research, Institut Jean-Nicod, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Ecole Normale Supérieure

PSTRUSIŃSKA, Jadwiga, Head of Dept. of Interdisciplinary Eurasiatic Research, Institute of Oriental Philology, Jagiellonian University, Cracow

RAKOWIECKA, Karolina, Jagiellonian University, Cracow

RAKOWIECKI, Jacek, Collegium Civitas, Poland

RANCIÈRE, Jacques, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the University of Paris (St. Denis)

REZAEI ,Ali, Dept. of Sociology, University of Calgary, Canada

RIGGLE, Nicholas Alden, Philosophy, New York University

ROMAN, Richard, University of Toronto

ROSENTHAL, David M., Professor of Philosophy, Cognitive Science Concentration Graduate Center, City University of New York

ROSS, Eric B., Visiting Professor of Anthropology and International Development Studies, George Washington University, Washington, D.C.

SAHNI, Varun, Inter University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA),            Ganeshkhind, Pune

SANBONMATSU, John, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Dept. Of Humanities and Arts, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, MA

SCHAEFER, Karin, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Germany

SCHELLENBERG, Susanna, Professor of Philosophy, Research School of the Social Sciences, The Australian National University, Canberra

SCHIBECI, Lynn, (retired) Dept. of History, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico

SCHIELKE, Samuli, Centre of Modern Oriental Studies, Berlin

SCHRECKER, Ellen, Professor of American History at Yeshiva University, New York

SCHWABSKY, Barry, Senior Critic in Sculpture (retired), Yale University

SEDGWICK, Sally, University of Illinois, Chicago

SHAHSAVARI, Anousha, Persian Lecturer, University of Texas at Austin

SHEIKHZADEGAN, Amir, University of Freiburg

SIEGEL, Susanna C., Professor of Philosophy, Harvard University, Cambridge

SIMPSON, Dick, Head of the Political Science Dept., University of Illinois, Chicago

SINGPURWALLA, Rachel, University of Maryland, College Park

SOSA, Ernest, Rutgers University Philosophy Department

SPERBER, Dan, Institut Jean Nicod, CRNS, Paris

STEINSEIFER, Martin, Universität Giessen

STUART, Jack, Minneapolis, MN

Tabb, William K., City University of New York

TAVAKOLIBORAZJANI, Farifteh, Freie Universität Berlin, Institut für Iranistik

TAVAKOLITARGHI, Mohamad, Professor of History and Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, University of Toronto

TISSBERGER, Martina,  Freie Universität Berlin, Dept. of Educational Sciences and Psychology

TOHIDI, Nayereh, Professor and Chair, Gender and Women’s Studies Dept., California State University, Northridge

TOSCANO, Alberto, Goldsmiths College, UK

UNGER, Peter, Professor of Philosophy, New York University

VAHDAT, Farzin, Vassar College, New York

VAN BLUEMEL, Emeritus Professor of Physics at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, in Worcester, MA

VAN BRUINESSEN, Martin, Chair of Comparative Study of Contemporary Muslim Societies, Dept. of Theology and Religious Studies, Utrecht University

VICTORRI, Bernard, Directeur de recherché CNRS, Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris

WATZL, Sebastian, Dept. of Philosophy, Columbia University

WHITE, Stephen, Dept. of Philosophy, Tufts University

WINANT, Howard, Professor of Sociology, University of California, Santa Barbara

ZIAI, Hossein, Director of Iranian Studies, UCLA Dept. of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, Los Angeles, CA

ŽIŽEK, Slavoj, University of LjubljanaSlovenia and the European Graduate School

ZUK, Agnieszka, University of Nancy

ZUPANCIC, Alenka, Institute of Philosophy of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts