March 26, 2010

AMHERST, Mass.— Monica Ringer, assistant professor of history and Asian languages and civilizations at AmherstCollege, will deliver the annual Max and Etta Lazerowitz Lecture on Wednesday, April 28, at 4:30 p.m. in AmherstCollege’s Alumni House. The talk, titled “Hijacking Islam: How the Islamic Republic Lost Its ‘Islamic’ Credentials,” will be followed by a reception. Both events are free and open to the public.

In her lecture, Ringer will examine Iran’s newest opposition movement, the Green Movement, which she says represents a new chapter in the story of reform and religion in the country. She will explore how the movement has appropriated the symbols of social justice that were central to the Islamic Revolution three decades ago—the green hand, for example, and the calling of “Allahuakbar” (“God is great” in Arabic) from the rooftops at night in defiance of curfew—and is now using “the very same Islamic idiom that was politicized and promulgated with such emotive intensity (and practical advantage) in 1979” against the government itself. She will also discuss the significance of the continued use of Islam to symbolize justice and political resistance, the role of the Internet in Iranian opposition, the intersection of popular rejection of the regime’s claims to social justice and whether this Green Movement is, in fact, another revolution.

Ringer teaches Middle Eastern history at Amherst. She is a former executive director for the International Society of Iranian Studies and currently serves as co-editor of Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East. She is author of numerous articles and a book titled Education, Religion and the Discourse of Cultural Reform in Qajar Iran. In addition, she is completing a book that explores religious reform and “modernization” in the Zoroastrian community in Iran and India in the 19th and 20th centuries.

The Lazerowitz Lectureship is awarded each year to support and encourage members of the AmherstCollege faculty in their scholarly work. The dean of the faculty, in conjunction with the Lecture Committee, selects a member of the faculty below the rank of full professor to receive the prize and then present a talk on his or her research. The lectureship was established in 1985 to honor the parents of the late Morris Lazerowitz, professor emeritus of philosophy at SmithCollege.