"An important and original book. The recent intellectual history of Iran has too often been described as if it were purely a discourse on the relevance or irrelevance of Islam. At last we have a more rounded and nuanced presentation of this multifaceted intellectual world. . . . An achievement."—Roy P. Mottahedeh, Gurney Professor of Islamic History, Harvard University
"This is an important study on the vibrant but complex intellectual life of modern Iran. Social scientists interested in the symbiosis between Orientalism and Anti-Orientalism will find this book fascinating."—Ervand Abrahamian, Professor of History, City University of New York
Mehrzad Boroujerdi challenges the way many Americans perceive present-day Iran as well as how Iranians view the West. He examines the works of thinkers seminal in defining modern Iran (virtually unknown in the U.S.) and concludes that Islam was not the primary source of their inspiration. Their efforts forge an “authentic” national identity lay at the heart of Iranian thought. These intellectuals (both religious and secular) appropriated Islam as the vehicle through which they could most effectively challenge or accommodate modernity and Westernization. Through such a fitting appropriation, Boroujerdi asserts, could modern Iranian thinkers lay the foundation for a nativist vision of an unsullied culture, seemingly free of Western influence.
Drawing on the works of Michel Foucault and Edward Said, this book explore how Iranians use their own misunderstandings about the West to form their own identity and, in return, how Westerns describe Iran in negative terms to help them reaffirm the superiority of their own culture. Boroujerdi also argues that Iranian intellectuals have been deeply indebted to Western thought, which has served as the cultural reference through which they continue to struggle with issues of identity and selfhood.
Mehrzad Boroujerdi is O’Hanley Faculty Scholar and professor of political science at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School, and former president of the International Society for Iranian Studies. He is the co-author of Postrevolutionary Iran: A Political Handbook and editor of Mirror for the Muslim Prince: Islam and the Theory of Statecraft.
6 x 9, 320 pages