III congress of Iranologists from Spain and Iran held in Madrid

Cultural Council of Iran in Madrid
September 3rd, 2009

On September 1st, the III National Meeting of Iranologists of Spain took place at the headquarters of the Cultural Council of Iran in Madrid, in which around twenty scholars from the Persian and Iranian world participated.

In “Obstacles and inconveniences for the promotion of Iranology in Spain“, which has been how the meeting has been called, the current condition of this discipline in Spain was studied; inconveniences, problems and challenges were examined, and proposals were presented for facing them.

During the meeting, the cultural advisor, Seyyed Ahmad Reza Khezri, took stock of his two and a half years at the head of the institution, during which the idea of the Institute of Iranology of Spain was launched.

Juan Martos Quesada, director of the Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, outlined the condition of the Persian language after the restructuring of the plans to adapt them to those of Bologna, and explained that the Persian language has remained there under the naming “Modern language and its literature” and “Third language“. Martos pointed out at the cooperation that the department he runs maintains with the Ministry and gave as an example the seminars that they have sponsored together.

Emilio González Ferrín, professor of Arabic at the Universidad of Seville, referred to Khezri’s visit on June 1st to the Spanish capital where he visited the dean of Philology of said university, Rafael López Campos Bodineau, to whom he proposed launching of a Persian language subject. “The Cultural Council can participate in this project, for example, putting the teacher of the subject“, Ferrín specified, who also spoke of the possibility of fitting Persian into the new study plan. Professor Ferrín spoke, on the other hand, of the gradual take-off of Iranology studies and gave as an example the institution of a master’s degree at Pablo Olavide’s University of Seville entitled “Religions and Societies“, which will include a module called “Iranian Religions“.

Other attendees at the meeting were the Islamologist Miguel Cruz Hernández and the historian José María Blázquez – both honoured at this meeting for their academic work. The latter made a brief exposition of the condition of Islamology as a subject in the history of the classical world, that is, the history of the Achaemenids, the Parthians and the Sassanids.

On the other hand, Miguel Ángel Pérez Martín, from the Hispano-Iranian Friendship Society, pointed out that this institution deals more with contemporary Iran, more specifically, with the promotion of dialogue between Madrid and Tehran, and said that in this sense the Council can participate in this Society – which teaches doctorate courses – with the contribution of an Iranian professor who will speak of modern Iran.

Another attendee was Miguel Ángel Andrés, from the Universidad de Salamanca, whose department of Classical and Indo-European Philology teaches a master’s degree on the culture of India and Iran. Andrés spoke of the “luck and misfortune” of Iranology in Salamanca, “luck because we can say that all phases of the Persian language are covered” and “misfortune due to the scarce institutional support that these studies have got, despite having been demonstrated the great acceptance they have from the students“.

Israel Campos Méndez, professor of ancient history in Gran Canaria, outlined that at his university the studies of Iranology are limited to Zoroastrianism, the Achaemenids, the Parthians and the Sassanids, as a matter of the history of the ancient world, and described as “intermediate stage” the position of the discipline of Iranology in Las Palmas de Gran Canarias, “intermediate because before there was nothing and now at least, without that being an ideal condition, there is already something“.

Also Francisco Cutillas Ferrer, professor of Persian at the Universidad de Alicante, attended the meeting, where he exposed that “we are on the periphery”, and that even though there is no master of Persian in the new plans, there is a subject in a degree called “Eurasian culture”, in addition to Persian language, which is still taught as a subject.

Paulo Botta, from FRIDE (Foundation for International Relations and Foreign Dialogue), explained that the institution of which he is a member is dedicated to the political studies of contemporary Iran, “which can also be a gateway to the Iranology itself, and this is something that the Institute [of Iranology] has to understand “.

Lastly, Joaquín Rodríguez Vargas, from the Universidad Complutense, stated that it should be taken advantage of the long term of 25 centuries of Persian history to open “several fronts of action in the Spanish university, that is, to institute subjects from various points of view from which Iranology can be seen, from Indo-European, since Iranian languages are Indo-European, also as part of Islamology, since the Persians, along with the Arabs, are the protagonists in the cultural configuration of the classical Muslim world, going through the angle of ancient history, for Persia and the Persian were part of the Western classical world for more than a millennium“. “Even those institutions that approach contemporary Iran and do not deal with ancient Persia can contribute to Iranology because of the interest that Iran arouses in international relations“, Rodríguez subscribed.

At the end of the event, the text of the Statutes of the Institute of Iranology of Spain was signed, which will soon be official.

September 3rd, 2009

Cultural Council of Iran in Madrid