Sheda Vasseghi has completed her PhD Dissertation at the University of New England entitled:
Vasseghi’s PhD academic advising team were composed of the following members: Marylin Newell, Laura Bertonazzi and Kaveh Farrokh.
Her study explored a number of widely taught college-level history textbooks in order to examine how these positioned Iran and Iranian peoples in the origins of Western Civilization. As noted by Vasseghi in her abstract:
“Western Civilization history marginalizes, misrepresents, misappropriates, and/or omits Iran’s positioning. Further, the mainstream approach to teaching Western Civilization history includes the Judeo-Christian-Greco-Roman narrative.”
Vasseghi used a multi-faceted theoretical approach—decolonization, critical pedagogy, and Western Civilization History dilemma—since her study transcended historical revisionism. This collective case study involved eleven Western Civilization history textbooks that, according to the College Board’s College-Level Examination Program (CLEP), are most popular among American college faculty. Vasseghi reviewed and collected expert opinion on the following five themes:
(1) terminology and definition of Iran, Iranians, and Iranian languages
(2) roots and origins of Iranian peoples
(3) which Iranian peoples are noted in general
(4) which Iranian peoples in ancient Europe are specifically noted
(5) Iranians in connection with six unique Western Civilization attributes.
Vasseghi selected experts specializing in Iranian, Western Civilization, and Indo-European studies in formulating a consensus on each theme. She then compared expert opinion to content in surveyed textbooks. Vasseghi discovered that the surveyed textbooks in her study overwhelmingly omitted, ill-defined, misrepresented, or marginalized Iran and Iranians in the origins of Western Civilization.
Readers are encouraged to visit Kaveh Farrokh’s Academia.edu profile cited in the introduction of this post to download Sheda Vasseghi’s Dissertation. Here is one of the quotes from her study:
“The researcher recommends that textbook authors and publishers engage experts in the field of Iranian studies in formulating content. A caveat for engaging those in the field of Iranian studies when writing Western Civilization history textbooks involves making a distinction between a native Iran and post-Islamic invasion and colonization of Iran in early Middle Ages (7th century onwards). That is, in the Age of Antiquity, Iran was under an Iranian governance and ancestral beliefs such as Zoroastrianism and Mithraism.”
This is an important observation given Western Media and academic outlets using sweeping (if not simplistic) terms such as “Middle East”, “Muslims”, etc. without acknowledging the context of Iran’s unique background, ancient history and language(s). Put simply, terms such as “Middle East” are not scientific but geopolitical in origin. The term “Muslim Civilization” for example serves to dilute (or even blur) the critical role of Iranian and Indian scholars in the preservation and promotion of learning, sciences and medicine. Arab historians such as Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406) who in his Muqaddimah (translated by F. Rosenthal (III, pp. 311-15, 271-4