ARYANPUR, AMIR-HOSAYN (Amir-Ḥosayn Āryānpur, b. Tehran, 27 February 1925; d. Tehran, 30 July 2001), noted engagé intellectual, scholar, and educator of the 20th century Iran.

i. Life.

ii. Work.


i. Life

Aryanpur was born to Faḵr-Irān Sepehri, a descendent of Moḥammad Taqi Sepehr, Lesān-al-Molk, the author of Nāseḵ-al-tavāriḵ, and Amir Mehdi Aryanpur, from Beyrānvand tribe of Lorestān (known as Nāyebis), which were exiled to Kāshān around 1737 and fought for half a century against Qajar Shahs (Ḵosravi, pp.13-14). Amir Mehdi resided in Tehran and adopted the last name Aryanpur.

Amir Hosayn, was taught to read at the age of four by his mother. He attended primary schools in Tehran, Garmsār, and Isfahan, and high schools in Isfahan and Mashhad, where his father’s job took the family. Aryanpur pursued a number of athletic activities including weightlifting, boxing, and bodybuilding.  In 1943 at the age of eighteen, he ranked second to Maḥmud Nāmju (1918-1989), the future Olympic champion, in the national weightlifting championship.  One year later, he was hailed the champion of Beirut’s multinational competition in weightlifting.

His gravitation during the 1940s toward the left-wing politics of the Tudeh Party (see COMMUNISM iii), was catalyzed in his support of student movements and involvement in Anjoman-e dānešjuyān (The students’ association) in the early 1940s (Aryanpur, 1980, p. 84) while he was completing his undergraduate studies in Teacher’s Training College (see EDUCATION xix. TEACHERS’-TRAINING COLLEGES).

In 1951 he went to the United States to continue his graduate studies in social sciences at Princeton University. His stay in the United States corresponded with the beginning of the Cold War, and the heyday of McCarthyism.  Aryanpur, now clearly leaning toward left-wing politics, and disillusioned by the American political atmosphere, returned to Iran after eighteen months.   Back home, he taught at various academic institutions and pursued a doctorate degree in Persian Literature (1956-60). He also completed graduate courses in the fields of philosophy and education at Tehran University.

The 1950s corresponded to a new politico-cultural era in which the United States, following the August 1953 coup (see COUP D’ETAT OF 1332 Š./1953), assumed a hegemonic position in Iran (Mashayekhi, pp. 93-105). Aryanpur’s increasing criticism of American foreign policy, and his uncompromising views on social resistance and defiance, became more palpable in his classroom lectures and most of his writings and speeches (A. A. Aryanpur, p. 233). His critical lectures against the policies of the Ministry of Higher Education, his refusal to attend the occasional formal audiences with the Shah, and his popularity among the students took their toll. He was discharged from several academic institutions on various occasions: the Faculty of Literature of Tehran University (1950), the Institute of Administrative Sciences (1956), the Teacher’s Training College (1963), the National University’s Faculty of Literature (1965), the Institute of Social Studies and Research (1968), and the Faculty of Theology and Islamic Studies (1976), where he had faced major conflicts with several top clerics and their followers, several of whom became prominent members in the Islamic Republic later (For details see Aryanpur, 1980, pp. 82-91). He retired in 1980.

In the short “breathing period” between 1977 and 1981, in which both regimes tolerated limited degrees of political and civil activities, Iran Writers’ Association of Iran (Kānun-e nevisandegān-e Irān) reconvened.  Aryanpur joined the Association and was an active participant until the autumn of 1979, when a split took place (Karimi-Hakkak, 1985, p. 202-08; Noqrahkār, Vol. 2, p. 197). Aryanpur and 35 others including Maḥmud Eʿtemādzāda (Behāḏin; q.v.), Siyāvaš Kasrāʾi (KASRA’I, Siavash, 1926-1996), Fereydun Tonekāboni, and Hušang Ebtehāj, founded a new organization called Šowrā-ye nevisandegān va honarmandān-e Irān (Iranian Writers’ and Artists’ Council), and published a journal by the same name (Musāʾi, 2002, p. 11; Moḵtāri, pp. 9-12).  The newly organized group, with Behāḏin as secretary and spokesperson, was more sympathetic to the Tudeh Party and advocated some self-imposed restrictions on cultural and artistic expressions not to offend the government (Karimi-Hakkak, 2002, p. 140; Aryanpur, 1982, pp. 24-46.).  Eventually the Council ceased all activities in the summer of 1981.

Aranypur endured many disquieting years within the post-revolutionary political climate. He was a signatory, with seventy other writers, of the statement titled “In defense of Saʿidi Sirjāni”, who was in detention in 1994. He also joined the 134 writers, with different cultural and political backgrounds, who signed a statement entitled “We Are The Writers,” against political repression and state censorship (Noqrakār, Vol. 3, pp. 516-19; Shahidian, p. 291).

In mid 1990s, Aryanpur was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. But until the very end when it began to visibly affect his muscular movements, he continued to read and write and receive students. He passed away on 30 July 2001 from complications of the disease.


ii. Work

Dar āstāna-ye rastāḵiz (On the threshold of resurgence, 1952), Aryanpur’s first noted work of translation was published in 1952 It was followed by the publication of Metodoloži-e taḥqiq va maʿḵaḏ-šenāsi (1954), and Pažouheš (1955), the two books he authored on research methodologies. His translation of An Enemy of the People (1882), by Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906), the Norwegian playwright, who challenged the moral standards of his time, was published as Došman-e mardom (Tehran, 1959; The book was also translated by Moḥammad ʿAli Jamālzādeh as Došman-e mellat, Tehran, 1961; see JAMALZADEH, MOHAMMAD-ALI). It was followed by the publication of Ibsen-e āšubgarāi (Ibsen the anarchist, Tehran, 1969), and Negāhi be jāmeʿa šenāsi-e nāfarmāni (A look at the sociology of disobedience, Tehran, 1971). 

Aryanpur’s books and articles played a significant role in popularizing sociology in Iran (Moin, The Guardian, 3 August 2001; Mahdi, 2001, pp. 331-35; see also Bayānia-ye kānun-e nevisandegān-e Irān, p. 51). His magnum opus, Zamina-ye jāmeʿa-šenāsi, an adaption of A Handbook of Sociology (London, 1950) by William F. Ogburn and Meyer F. Nimkoff, appeared in 1965. In his four introductions to the book Aryanpur synthesizes his sociological views with writings of social scientists like Gordon Childe, R.M. McIver, Georges Gurvitch, W.E. Moore, and Pitrim Sorokin. Written in an accessible language, the book contains a glossary of about 1000 social scientific terms.

Mention should also be made of Jāmeʿa-šenāsi-e honar (The sociology of art, 1975). Besides his many articles, Aryanpur has also contributed chapters to several books, mostly related to sociology. Although radical in his approach to sociology, Aryanpur has gained critical notice as a sociologist with a “synthesized perspective” (Mahdi, 1992, p. 68), a categorization that reflects both his adherence to the foundational concepts of Soviet Marxism, and his familiarity with mainstream Western sociology.

Aryanpur’s familiarity with ancient Iranian languages, as well as Arabic, Latin, English, French, and German, and his studious search in ancient classic texts encouraged him to compile a dictionary of social sciences and philosophy in four languages (Aryanpur, 1991, pp. 63-64). His numerous commitments and his declining health, however, prevented him from completing the project that he had embarked on for over four decades. In January 2003, his wife, Homā Behbahāni, his son, Puyā, and his brother, Amir Ašraf Aryanpur, with the assistance of Ḥassan ʿAšāyeri and a few others, founded the Amir Hosayn Aryanpur’s Foundation for Sociological Cooperation with the goal to complete his unfinished works (

After academic retirement, he spent a significant portion of his time studying, researching, and compiling data about the Nāyebi movement in Kashan, and his paternal ancestors Nāyeb-Ḥosayn, and his son, Māšāʾ-Allah-Khan, who were arrested and killed in 1919, during the premiership of Vosuq-al-Dowla (Yaghmāʾi, p. 1; A. A. Aryanpur, 1991, p. 54; see also Ḥamāsa-ye ṭoḡyān, Amir Hušang Āryānpur, Tehran, 2009). The data helped provide significant resource material for Ṭoḡyān-e Nāyebiān by Moḥammad-Reżā Ḵosravi (Tehran, 1989).

Aryanpur is recognized for his pedagogical role as a devoted teacher who trained and educated three generations of students (Mehrāʾin, p. 27). He spent nearly five decades of his life educating students not only in academic centers, but also on his regular walks to the hillsides of Tehran, at his home, more regularly after his retirement in 1980. That explains some critics’ conviction that his “oral and verbal communications” constituted an indispensable segment of his cultural legacy (Ṣamimi, p. 251; Ṣāḥeb-Eḵtiyāri, p. 37). His teachings were interdisciplinary, drawing on literature, arts, sociology, anthropology, philosophy, social psychology, language, and history, all in the context of a critical discourse, and students from other classes, universities, and disciplines, attended his lectures. In contrast to the “formalistic” methods of teaching prevalent in Iran, he advocated hamāmuzi (co-learning), an approach to teaching based on open interaction between teacher and student (Aryanpur, 1991, p. 64).


Selected Publications:


Dar āstāna-ye rastāḵiz (On the threshold of resurrection), Tehran, 1951

Dow manṭeq (Two logics), Tehran, 1979

Froidism, ba ešarati be adabiyāt o ʿerfān (Freudism and Iranian literature and mysticism) Tehran, 1950

Ibsen-e ašubgarāi (Ibsen the anarchist), Tehran, 1969

Jāmeʿa šenāsi-e honar (On the sociology of art), 1975

Metodoloži-e taḥqiq va maʿḵaḏ-šenāsi (Research methodology and textual scholarship), Tehran, 1955

Pažuheš (Research), Tehran, 1956

Zamina-ye jāmeʿa šenāsi (Tehran, 1965) an adaptation of A Handbook of Sociology, by William F. Ogburn and Meyer F. Nimkoff (London, 1950)



Aristotle, Ethics, tr. as ʿElm-e aḵlāq, Tehran,1943

John Dewey, Schools of Tomorrow (1915), tr. as Āmuzešgāhhā-ye fardā, Tehran, 1949.

John Dewey, Democracy and Education (1916), tr. as Moqaddama-i be falsafa-ye āmuzeš o parvareš, Tehran, 1960

Will Durant, The Story of Civilization: Our Oriental Heritage (New York, 1935), tr. as Tariḵ-e tamaddon: mašreq zamin, gāhvāra-ye tamaddon [Part three: China and Japan], Tehran, 1959

Henrik Ibsen, An Enemy of the People (1957), tr. as Došman-e mardom, Tehran, 1959

Iqbal Lahuri, The Development of Metaphysics in Persia (1908), tr. as Seyr-e falsafeh dar Iran, 1968



Amir Ašraf Āryānpur, “Ḵāṭerāti čand az barādaram Amir Ḥosayn,” Behruz Ṣāḥeb-Eḵtiyāri, ed., Zenda-andišān be zibāʾi resand, Tehran, 2003, p. 233.

Amir Ḥosayn Āryānpur, “Az madrasa tā madrasa,” Kelk 6, Šahrivar1369Š./August 1980, pp. 82-91.

Idem, “Bāztāb-e enqelāb­-e eslāmi dar honarhā . . .,” Šawrā-ye nevisandagān va honarmandān-e Irān 6, 1982, pp. 24-46.

Idem, “Goft-o gu bā Doktor Amir Ḥosayn Āryānpur,” Ādina, No.56, Farvardin 1370Š./March 1991, pp. 54-63, and Ādina, Nos. 57-58, Ḵordād 1370Š./May 1991, pp. 63-64.

Amir Hušang Āryānpur, Ḥamāsa-ye ṭoḡyān, Tehran, 2009.

“Bayāniya-ye kānun-e nevisandegān-e Irān,” in Behruz Ṣāḥeb-Eḵtiyāri, ed., Zenda-andišān be zibāʾi resand, Tehran, p. 51.

Ahmad-Hakkak, “CENSORSHIP,” Encyclopaedia Iranica, Vol. V, 2002, pp. 134-42.

Idem, “Protest and Perish: A History of the Writer’s Association of Iran,” Iranian Studies 18, 1985, pp. 189-229.

Moḥammad Moḵtāri, Ensān dar šeʿr-e moāʿṣer (Persian poetry and the representation of the Persian self), Tehran, 2nd ed. 1999.

Behzād Musāʾi, “Goftagu ba Maḥmud Eʿtemādzāda,” Payām-e šomāl 5/37-8, Āḏar-Dey 1381Š./2003.

Moḥammad-Reżā Ḵosravi, Ṭoḡyān-e Nāyebiān, Tehran, 1989.

ʿAli-Akbar Mahdi, “Dar sug-e barjasta-tarin moʿallem-e jāmeʿa šenāsi dar Irān,” Boḵārā 19, Summer 2001, pp. 331-35.

Idem and Abdolali Lahsaeizadeh, Sociology in Iran, Bethesda, MD, 1992.

Merhdad Mashayekhi, “The Politics of Nationalism and Political Culture,” in Samih Farsoun and Merhdad Mashayekhi (eds.), Iran: Political Culture in the Islamic Republic, 1992, pp. 93-105.

Dāriuš Mehrāʾin, “Moqaddama-i bar soluk-e Āryānpur,” Kelk 127, Mehr-Ābān 1380Š./Sept.-Oct. 2001, p. 37.

Bāqer Moin, “Amir Hossein Aryanpour,” The Guardian, Friday 3 August 2001 10.08 BST,, accessed 05/15/2011.

Reza Moini, “A Rational Man,” The Iranian, August 7, 2001,, accessed 05/15/2011.           

Masʿud Noqrakār, Baḵši az tāriḵ-e jonbeš-e rowšanfekri-e Irān, vol. 2, Sweden, 2002, p. 197.

Behruz Ṣāḥeb-Eḵtiyāri, “Padida-i čand-vajhi be nām-e Amir Ḥosayn Āryānpur,” in idem, ed., Zenda-andišān be zibāʾi resand, Tehran, 2003, p. 37.

Moḥammad Bāqer Ṣamini, “Pir-e mā raft-o ḵarābāt bemānd,” in Behruz Ṣāḥeb-Eḵtiyāri, ed., Zenda-andišān be zibāʾi resand, Tehran, 2003, p. 251.

Hamed Shahidian, “ We Are the Writers,” Iranian Studies 30/3-4, Summer/Fall 1997, pp. 291-93.

Montaḵab-al-Sādāt Yaḡmāʾi, Ḥamāsa-ye Fatḥnāma-ye Nāyebi, Tehran, 1989.


Originally Published: January 1, 2000

Last Updated: September 7, 2011