Shari'ati: The Preoccupied Flâneur in Paris

By Maryam Rabiee and Ali Rahnema

This project is a visual guide to locations that played an influential role in the personal development of Ali Shari’ati, an intellectual, a teacher, a revolutionary, and a poet, in Paris from 1959 to 1964. In 2014, Maryam started following the footsteps of Shari’ati in Paris and explored the social, political, and physical space in which he journeyed through the process he calls shodan (becoming). Maryam and Ali Rahnema have put together a list of forty-nine locations, which Maryam started photographing in 2014. This investigation is ongoing.

Ali Shari’ati (1933-1977)

Born on November 24, 1933 in the the village of Kahak, Shari’ati spent the first twenty-six years of his life in the province of Khorasan in Iran. He entered the University of Mashhad at the age of twenty-two and graduated from the Faculty of Literature. Shortly after graduation, at twenty-six, he arrived in Paris, the hub of thinkers, writers, and artists, in late May 1959. Shari’ati spent five critical years in Paris. His intellectual, political, religious, philosophical, and artistic development between 1959 and 1964 in his host country provided the impetus for Shari’ati’s worldwide impact to date.

After earning a PhD in the history of medieval Islam from Sorbonne University in 1964, Shari'ati returned to his hometown Mashhad and some three years later moved to Tehran, where he began his lecture series at the Hosseiniyeh Ershad Institute on December 2, 1969. Shari’ati’s revolutionary lectures were popular among students and young intellectuals and activists, which led to his arrest on 28 September 1973. He left for the UK on 16 May 1977 two years after his release from prison and died in Southampton General Hospital on 18 June 1977.

Mapping Shari'ati's Paris

The following map illustrates all forty-two locations presented in the following section, Following Shari’ati’s Footsteps. It allows you to take a quick glance of his whereabouts in Paris. Zoom in to view more locations and follow Shari'ati's movement in Paris on the map below.

Following Shari’ati’s Footsteps

Each site mentioned below is accompanied by photographs and a brief story of the location and its connection to Shari’ati’s life in Paris. Shari'ati’s recollection of a number of locations is vague and at times he mixes up similar names, which is why some locations may have multiple possibilities. That is due to the time gap between the events in Paris and Shari’ati’s effort to record them years after he moved back to Iran. Click on any location in the list below to view photographs and read stories about each place.