The Iranian Revolution, 1978
Hi! My name is Annelisa Kingsbury Lee, and I’m thrilled to welcome you to HNMUN 2020, where I’ll be directing The Iranian Revolution, 1978. The revolutionary coalition will establish a system of government and strike a very delicate political balance. The Iranian Revolution will delve deep into the world of domestic Iranian politics: in short, it should be a rollercoaster.
I’m a sophomore at Harvard College planning on studying Comparative Literature and Government (and possibly a minor in computer science or art history? We’ll see). I grew up in New York, moved to Salt Lake City, Utah for middle school and high school, and moved back to New York a few months before starting college.
As you can perhaps tell from my intended major, I have a pretty wide range of interests - my first and best love is literature, and my most employable love is the social sciences. Outside of school, I really like documentary filmmaking and am passionate about educational equality and labor related issues. I have also been very involved with MUN at Harvard, both for HNMUN and for HMUN, our sister conference for high school students, last year. I am also an active member of ICMUN, our competitive MUN team.
I took an anthropology seminar freshman fall (completely by chance) called Misunderstanding Islam and fell in love with the topic; the next semester, I took a joint Harvard Divinity School/Gov Department class (for which I was radically underqualified) on Shi’a Islam and Politics. While we tend to hear a fair amount of information - albeit rather jumbled - on Middle Eastern politics, and most people have perhaps a confused idea about the Sunni/Shi’a divide possibly having something to do with the caliphate, I (like most people) knew nothing whatsoever about Shi’a theology. Looking in-depth at Iranian politics, as well as political organization in Shi’a-minority countries, through the unique lens of Shi’a theology was absolutely fascinating.
The Iranian Committee is one of the most important HNMUN committees because of the extreme relevance of Iranian politics to current global issues and the lack of understanding most Americans have about Iran. Shi’a Islam is older than many countries, with an extraordinarily rich theological and philosophical tradition, and the religion of hundreds of millions of people in the present day. Iran is a multifaceted nation with complex goals and policies, and we’re looking at it in one of its most delicate moments: the tail end of an extraordinary social revolution, possibly the only religiously motivated modern social revolution, and the building of a new state. I also want to emphasize HNMUN’s policies of nondiscrimination and openness to all delegates, regardless of background or identity. I hope everyone is excited to learn about and respect both an oft-misunderstood religion and the world’s only elected theocracy!
Annelisa Kingsbury Lee
Director, The Iranian Revolution, 1978
Crisis Director's Letter
My name is Franklin Hang, and I look forward to reading all of your crisis notes come conference day! Annelisa and I have a treat planned for you in the form of the Iranian Revolution. This committee is the culmination of our vision and hope in shedding some light into the Middle East and its modern contemporary politics and discourse, and we hope you come to take pride and ownership in this committee as much as we have in making it. I will also note that Annelisa and I are especially committed to creating a positive and welcoming experience for all, regardless of background or identity.
I was born in Phnom Penh, Cambodia and came to the United States at a young age. Being part of different cultures and religious traditions has granted me a wide view of the globe; the world around us is not as simple as it seems. Throughout my entire time in the States, I remained stuck in San Diego, CA, where I grew indulgent and complacent to good, sunny weather. Now I live a cold and happy life in Cambridge, MA. While in San Diego, I took up MUN because I wanted to participate in exciting and motivating debate on global issues. MUN brought that element of awareness and complexity into my life that I craved. Even if it was just through simulations and fictional resolutions, I felt that the things I was learning through my fellow peers at conference was invaluable. Through MUN, I also found my voice, and transformed myself from a blithering mess into a barely passable communicator. I’ve continued at Harvard as a member of ICMUN, our competitive MUN team, and as a Director at both HNMUN and HMUN, our sister conference for high school students, last year.
Coming to college, I honestly thought I was going to study Government, especially international relations and all of its discourses. The more international relations classes I forced myself through, I became dissatisfied. These theories and ideas about how the world should work did not seem to promise the reality that we were all seeing right now. The grand policy failures of the United States and her allies in the Middle East can be attributed to many strategic factors, but it all boils down to the critical lack of information when it comes to understanding the cultures and religious traditions of the people Western policymakers were trying to engage with. Now, I am a rising junior engaged to the Study of Religion, Government, and pre-med classes. In my time at college, I hope I can tap into the current of the real and gain a better understanding of the human condition, whether that is physical or metaphysical.
The world of Islam is not as simple as the dichotomy of Sunni and Shia. There are many other flavours of ethnic and religious minorities, all interacting in synchrony in the Middle East. To understand Islam, it is not enough to think of it as a religion in the Western academic sense. A more accurate way of thinking about Islam is that it is a way of life. The political podium is more often than not also the minbar.
The Islamic Revolution in Iran represents a kingdom in crisis, with revolutionary and religious forces all competing for power as soon as Mohamed Reza Shah goes abroad for medical treatment. With threats from without and within, the world around you is thrown into chaos. Your task is to survive it and forge a more prosperous future for the Iranian people. With issues ranging from imperialist powers to full-stage modernisation, you will continuously be challenged. Make no mistake, the frustrations you will face will make you a stronger negotiator and collaborator as you seek unusual avenues of success.
Feel free to reach out with comments and queries. See you in 2020!
Crisis Director, The Iranian Revolution, 1978