Democracy in Modern Iran
Islam, Culture, and Political Change
Publication Year: 2010
“The author convincingly argues for a view of democracy based not on ‘objective logic,’ but rather on pragmatic lines...[Mirsepassi] does deliver a variety of useful perspectives on the nature of the contemporary hostility.”
Published by: NYU Press
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In the writing of this book, I have received the help of a community of colleagues, friends, and students. While the core ideas and main vision defining this book are mine and reflect my intellectual interests and concerns, I could not have written the book without the intellectual and editorial help and support I have received from the many people who...
Preface: “Where Is My Vote?”
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Today, there is a broad public movement committed to democracy in Iran. It is supported and sometimes opposed by a diverse spectrum of Iranians from nearly every walk of life for a wide and changing variety of reasons. The vivid and widely publicized images of mass demonstrations do not represent merely a spontaneous adventure in public action, but also a...
Introduction: Democracy and Culture
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This book offers a sociological perspective on the history of the struggle to achieve modernity and democracy in contemporary Iran. It argues that Islam, as a religion and cultural practice, and democracy, as a nonviolent way to organize political order, are both socially rooted and can be best understood and reconciled within a sociological and institutionally...
1. The Origins of Secularism in Europe
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The impact of the late-twentieth-century rise of political Islam on theories of secularism and religion has been considerable. Reactions have taken shape around two broad responses. The first argues that developing Islamic societies have failed in their efforts to create a viable form of modern secularism, and Islamist movements represent surviving premodern traditions...
2. Modern Visions of Secularism
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The problems discussed in the previous chapter have never really been settled. If to well-stabilized Western democracies in the late twentieth century these issues have seemed sometimes pass� or of chiefly academic interest, in the sense that post-modern critiques of democracy can scarcely threaten to dismantle the prevailing political order, the same was far from...
3. A Critical Understanding of Modernity
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When in 1721 the French Enlightenment thinker Baron de Montesquieu published his Persian Letters, under a pseudonym to escape Church persecution, he probably never imagined that two centuries later his book would still have the power to stir controversy.1 The book was meant, he claimed, to be neither an empirical study nor a historical exegesis but only...
4. Intellectuals and Democracy
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The dominant thinking about democracy in Iran has based itself on a problematic assumption. A large number of Iranian intellectuals have reached a tacit consensus that establishing a democratic society necessarily requires newly defined concepts of rationality and truth.1 As a result, over roughly the past one hundred and fifty years, Iranian intellectuals have...
5. Religious Intellectuals
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We must look at the 1979 Iranian Revolution within the broader context of twentieth-century world revolutions. A shared set of objective problematics comes to mind: extreme discontent (relative deprivation, frustrated economic expectations, moral unacceptability of social conditions for a large proportion of the society, and lack of political inclusion) leading to mass...
6. Alireza Alavi-Tabar and Political Change
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Alireza Alavi-Tabar was born in Shiraz in 1960. He has a Ph.D. in political science and is currently on the faculty of the Institute for Planning and Development. He became a prominent figure in the 1990s for his journalistic writings and his essays on the politics of the Second Khordad reform movement. He was also the editor of the now closed Sobh-e-Emrooz newspaper...
7. The Predicaments of Iranian Public Intellectuals
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Within the context of contemporary Iranian and Middle Eastern politics, where a striking variety of ideological discourses have competed with one another and held sway over several decades—among them nativist, nationalist, and Islamist ones, just to name a few—intellectuals have likewise tended to define their roles within the limited discursive boundaries...
8. An Intellectual Crisis in Iran
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One of the important consequences of the Iranian encounter with modernity and its efforts to Westernize has been the founding of new educational institutions.1 Among these are the Darul-Fanoon school founded in 1851 by Amir Kabir, a reformist politician, as well as the many new schools, including the University of Tehran (founded in 1928), which were essential...
Conclusion: Modernity and Its Traditions
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Iranians are experiencing their own modernity at a time when the very paradigm of modernity is being radically questioned in the West, its place of origin. The modern history of Iran reveals a fascinating diversity of narratives that reckon with the nation’s particular and often troubled experience of transition to a modern nation-state in the context of globalization...
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About the Author
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Page Count: 240
Publication Year: 2010