Iran Without Borders: Towards a Critique of the Postcolonial by Hamid Dabashi

By Hamid Dabashi

A heritage of the cosmopolitan forces that made modern Iran

“No ruling regime,” writes Hamid Dabashi, “could ever have a complete declare over the assumption of Iran as a country, a people.” for many years, the narrative approximately Iran has been ruled by means of a fake binary, during which the conventional ruling Islamist regime is counterposed to a contemporary inhabitants of proficient, secular urbanites. even if, Iran has for plenty of centuries been a state cast from a various mixture of impacts, so much of them non-sectarian and cosmopolitan.

In Iran with out Borders, the acclaimed cultural critic and student of Iranian heritage Hamid Dabashi strains the evolution of this worldly tradition from the eighteenth century to the current day, travelling via social and highbrow events, and the lives of writers, artists and public intellectuals who articulated the assumption of Iran on a transnational public sphere. Many left their homeland—either bodily or emotionally—and imagined it from areas as far-flung as Istanbul, Cairo, Calcutta, Paris, or long island, yet jointly they cast a state as worldly because it is multifarious.

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Extra resources for Iran Without Borders: Towards a Critique of the Postcolonial Nation

Sample text

For theirs was the very last grand imperial design on the model of the Persianate imperium, though no longer predicated on the ideological premises of Persian literature (which now perforce emigrated to India), but decidedly on the scholasticism of Shi’ism. But that Shi’ism itself was and remained an already transnational proposition, by virtue of the fact that significant territories in the Ottoman Empire—from Iraq to Lebanon—and then down to the Arabian Peninsula and deep into the Indian subcontinent, also remained Shi’i.

Iranian Arabs, Kurds, Azaris, those living by the Caspian Sea, or in the province of Khorasan, are all as much part of Iran as they are integral to their surrounding cultures and environments. This cosmopolitanism can at times degenerate into separatist movements on the part of Arabs, Kurds, Turks, and Baluchis, precisely because they have been systematically disenfranchised under both the Pahlavis and the Islamic Republic—both of which, by virtue of their monarchical Persianism and clerical Islamism, respectively, were in categorical denial of that very cosmopolitanism.

This binary became a self-fulfilling prophecy, and leading representatives of these two camps soon began to recruit the younger generation of adherents, and before long a foggy air of suspension and supposition divided the political culture between the dominant Islamists and resistant secularists. A principal task of this book is to dismantle that false binary, and propose what you will see me repeatedly invoke as the “cosmopolitan worldliness” characterizing the modus operandi of Iranian culture, from its own imperial background to its subsequent postcolonial character, as well as the future rediscovery of its origins beyond its current fictive frontiers—borders manufactured through colonial domination and consolidated by means of multiple ideological narratives.

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