The Forum: Journal of History


Chance Coates


Exploring the ways in which the seizure of the American embassy and subsequent hostage situation of American nationals within Tehran in 1979 transcended international boundaries, this paper discusses the backlash that Iranian students at Cal Poly faced during this pivotal geopolitical crisis. In doing so, I review various protests and public statements that gave rise to a distinct social discourse that stigmatized Iranian students, effectively transforming this group into an “Other.” Further, I explore the ways in which the university as an institution contributed to this stigmatization. The paper overall concludes that the Iranian students on campus were, like the Americans in Tehran, held hostage within a hostile social matrix during and after November, 1979.