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Both Eastern and Western
An Intellectual History of Iranian Modernity

  • Date Published: August 2018
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108428538

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About the Authors
  • Since the Iranian Revolution of 1979, many Western observers of Iran have seen the country caught between Eastern history and 'Western' modernity, between religion and secularity. As a result, analysis of political philosophy preceding the Revolution has become subsumed by this narrative. Here, Afshin Matin-Asgari proposes a revisionist work of intellectual history, challenging many of the dominant paradigms in Iranian and Middle Eastern historiography and offering a new narration. In charting the intellectual construction of Iranian modernity during the twentieth century, Matin-Asgari focuses on broad patterns of influential ideas and their relation to each other. These intellectual trends are studied in a global historical context, leading to the assertion that Iranian modernity has been sustained by at least a century of intense intellectual interaction with global ideologies. Turning many prevailing narratives on their heads, the author concludes that modern Iran can be seen as, culturally and intellectually, both Eastern and Western.

    • Offers a new revisionist interpretation of Iranian modernity
    • Aligns the study of Iranian intellectual history with current debates on the meaning of modernity
    • Analyzes complex interactions of modern ideologies
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'This unique book registers the many sources of influence, hitherto overlooked by the researchers in the field, that have shaped up modern Iran. Afshin Matin-asgari offers a meticulous and compelling account of the cosmopolitan character of modern Iranian intellectual, social, cultural, and political thought. A superb and authoritative reference for scholars and public alike.' Peyman Vahabzadeh, University of Victoria

    'Afshin Matin-Asgari has written a highly succinct, readable, and perceptive work on the major issue confronting intellectuals in Iran from the late nineteenth century up to the 1979 revolution: the issue of how to discuss, confront, and deal with the intellectual challenge coming from the West. This is also an important contribution to our understanding of the eventual downfall of the Shah.' Ervand Abrahamian, City University of New York

    'By focusing on the influence of the Ottoman and Russian models on Iranian intellectual thought, Both Eastern and Western offers an original and thought-provoking account of Iran's road toward 'modernity' in the twentieth century.' Rudi Matthee, University of Delaware

    'Afshin Matin-Asgari's Both Eastern and Western: An Intellectual History of Iranian Modernity is a master stroke - resonating with earlier groundworks that had prepared the stage for this bravura delivery. He restages the central significance of the adventure of ideas in the making of nations at a time when state-centered political history is dimming the wit of much contemporary historiography. Deeply informed, politically committed, morally imaginative, Matin-Asgari's own book is a towering achievement of the intellectual history he chronicles with impeccable precision.' Hamid Dabashi, Columbia University, New York

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    Product details

    • Date Published: August 2018
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108428538
    • length: 370 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 157 x 23 mm
    • weight: 0.65kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: intellectual constructions of Iranian modernity
    1. Lineages of authoritarian modernity: the Russo-Ottoman model
    2. The Berlin Circle: crafting the worldview of Iranian nationalism
    3. Subverting constitutionalism: intellectuals as instruments of modern dictatorship
    4. Intellectual missing links: politicizing religion and translating modernity
    5. The mid-century moment of socialist hegemony
    6. Revolutionary monarchy, political Shi'ism, and Islamic Marxism
    7. Conclusion: aborted resurrection: an intellectual arena wide open to opposition.

  • Author

    Afshin Matin-Asgari, California State University, Los Angeles
    Afshin Matin-Asgari is Outstanding Professor of Middle East History at California State University, Los Angeles. He was born in Iran and completed his Ph.D. in Middle East history at University of California, Los Angeles. He was active in the international movement of Iranian students during the 1970s and took part in the 1978–79 Iranian Revolution. He is the author of Iranian Student Opposition to the Shah (2002), which is translated in Persian and published in Iran, and has authored more than twenty articles and book chapters on twentieth-century Iranian political and intellectual history.

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