Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download campus access dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.

Non-UMass Amherst users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this dissertation through interlibrary loan.

Dissertations that have an embargo placed on them will not be available to anyone until the embargo expires.

Author ORCID Identifier


Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Mary C. Wilson

Second Advisor

Jennifer Heuer

Third Advisor

Ervand Abrahamian

Fourth Advisor

Monica M. Ringer

Subject Categories

Diplomatic History | History of Religion | International Relations | Islamic World and Near East History | Oral History


This dissertation is a transnational history of the 1978-79 Iranian revolution and its regional ramifications in the 1980s. Bridging literature on revolution, internationalism, and clerical factionalism, this research explores the international impact of the 1978-79 revolution and the Iranian endeavor in the 1980s to export the Revolution. The 1978-79 uprising against the Shah was the only successful revolution led by Muslim ʿulamaʾ in modern times and inspired political activism and uprisings across the Muslim world. The clergy’s role in mobilizing the Iranian masses set a powerful example to non-Iranian Shiʿi and Sunni ʿulamaʾ and Islamists, who hoped that they could accomplish something similar in their own struggles. Examining revolution as an ideological and international force, this study steps outside the limits of national history, exploring how the Revolution influenced Shiʿi and Sunni forces and Muslim nationalist movements in the world. At the heart of this research are three entities which had key roles in the internationalism of the 1979 revolution: the international network of Shaykh Mohammad Montazeri; the Revolutionary Organization of the Masses of the Islamic Republic, Satja (1979-1980); and the Islamic Liberation Movements Unit, ILMU (1980-1982). The present research is the first academic work that studies the crucial role of these entities in spreading the Revolution. By shedding light on the intellectual and political impact of the Islamic Revolution on non-Shiʿi forces and the Iranians’ ties with Sunni groups, this work challenges sectarian narratives that either question the exportability of the 1978-79 revolution (because of the specifically Shiʿi and Persian identity of Iran) or confine its internationalism to Shi’i communities outside Iran. This work’s analysis of factionalism in the Islamic Republic and revolutionary internationalism in the 1980s provides insight into understanding the internationalization of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and the rise of the Quds Force, which is now spearheading Iran’s expansion in the region.


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 License.

Available for download on Monday, September 01, 2025