Iran in the 21st Century Politics, Economics & Conflict by Homa Katouzian and Hossein Shahidi, eds. (London and New York: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, 2008. 300 pages.)

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Houchang Hassan-Yari

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Abstract

This multidisciplinary study addresses a host of issues facing Iran. Through
a comprehensive study of political, economic, cultural, social, and securityrelated
questions, seventeen Iranian researchers tried to create a book that is, as Katouzian states in her preface, “likely to become a standard text for the
relevant academic courses.”
In an elaborate introduction, the editors paint a quick picture of events
endured by the Iranian people during the twentieth century up to the
advent of the Islamic Republic in 1979. Farideh Farhi examines the question
of crafting a national identity as a national preoccupation in modern
Iranian history. She points to the central role of a narrative reference that
brings together and connects all Iranians. The second main point of her
analysis is the ongoing tension between what she calls autocratic/theocratic/
arbitrary rule and democracy/chaos and Iran’s relationship with the
outside world. Farhi studies three sets of discursive transformations to
illustrate her main points: the transformation of the national question into
an ethnic challenge, of the Islam/pre-Islam dichotomy into a confrontation
between popular sovereignty and patrimonialism, and of how “Iran” sees
itself in the world...

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