Defining Iran Politics of Resistance By Shabnam J. Holliday (Surrey, UK: Ashgate, 2011, hbk. 180 pages.)

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Leyli I. Behbahani



Shabnam Holliday’s Defining Iran: Politics of Resistance is a timely investigation
of the Iranian national identity. Through careful discursive
analysis of a number of texts, including primary sources – speeches, statements,
and interviews – as well as articles on the Iranian identity in general
and national identity in particular, Holliday seeks to show how discourses
and counter-discourses emerge and shape the ways Iranians imagine and
define their national identity. Such deconstruction regards texts produced
since the Pahalvis reign as a preface to her main focus on those produced
during and after Seyyed Mohammad Khatami’s presidency. By looking
at the genealogy of tensions and dynamics between Irānīyat (referring to
pre-Islamic Iran), Islāmīyat (referring to Islam, namely Persian Shi’i), and
the Western influences in defining what it means to be Iranian, Holliday
illustrates the roots of the “contemporary Iranian national identity” and
“Iranian cosmopolitanism” (127) ...

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