Imagining Iran

Imagining Iran : The Tragedy of Subaltern Nationalism

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Thematically, this book problematizes Iranian official nationalism. It reviews how every modern Iranian regime since the constitutional revolution of the 1905-06 has failed to legitimize its official identity, resulting in the fall of five different regimes. The book details how the collapse of each regime resulted in the interruption of the official meaning of being Iranian, as well as the meanings of its enemies. What remained the same was how every Iranian regime represented itself as the agent of a particular national desire defined in terms of making Iran to become sovereign, developed, democratic, and constitutional. Nonetheless, no regime was able to convince a great majority of the people that it achieved what it represented. This book makes three specific contributions. The first contribution is pedagogical. By focusing on the dynamics of regime changes, it provides a heuristic model for identifying challenges that all Iranian regimes have faced. Moreover, the book is a comprehensive review of the disruptive, oppressive, and bloody nature of the rise and fall of different regimes. The second contribution is theoretical.
Rather than examining the behavior of various Iranian regimes in isolation from their international context, the book examines how each regime got to understand itself in relations to its imperial others. By examining the governmental rationality of each regime, the book offers a better theoretical framework for understanding political development not only in Iran, but also in all other Middle Eastern and South Asian states. Finally, the third contribution of this book is its critical approach to the main body of the literature on Iran, modernity, development, democracy, and constitutionalism.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 374 pages
  • 154 x 230 x 30mm | 559.99g
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • 0739186396
  • 9780739186398

Table of contents

Preface Chapter 1: Contested Iranianness Chapter 2: The Emergence of Modern Iranian Nationalism Chapter 3: Subaltern Developmentalism: Reza Shah's Reign (1921-1941) Chapter 4: Imperial Interventions (1941 and 1953) Chapter 5: Formation of a Hegemonic National Opposition (1953-1978) Chapter 6: The Islamic Republic: The Creation of an Islamic Iranian Subject Chapter 7: Consolidation of the State Power but Crisis in National Identity Chapter 8: Islamic Nationalism Redefined Chapter 9: Official Nationalism in Practice: Seduction of Othering Conclusion
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Review quote

This expansive book seeks to explain why different Iranian regimes that came to power after the 1905-06 constitutional revolution have unsuccessfully sought to define 'Iranianness.' Sharifi explains the political dynamics of the rise and fall of each regime in terms of the inability of each type of government, whether secularist or Islamic, to make its narrative of 'Iranianness' inclusive enough to make the state into the embodiment of the country's heterogeneous people. He further demonstrates that the failure to politically and socially engage the elites and masses around the state's official identity have had several consequences. They included securitization of Iran's sociopolitical space, various regimes' increasing reliance on coercive and regulatory mechanisms to stay in power, and the emergence of counterhegemonic forces against the state's official identity and ideology of 'Iranianness.' Moreover, the author develops a theoretical framework for connecting the development of Iranian nationalism with those of the other states in the Middle East and South Asia that have experienced colonial and/or imperial domination. This well-researched, theoretically rigorous, and cogently argued book is highly recommended. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduate, graduate, and research collections. CHOICE
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About Majid Sharifi

Majid Sharifi is assistant professor in international affairs and government at Eastern Washington University. He has done extensive field research in the political development of Iran and surrounding countries. His research focuses on political and security trends and transformations in the littoral states of Persian Gulf, as well as Pakistan and Afghanistan.
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