The Emergence of Iranian Nationalism: Race and the Politics of Dislocation

The Emergence of Iranian Nationalism: Race and the Politics of Dislocation



thank you thank you ladies and gentlemen it's a great pleasure to be here in this venerable institution and I have to express my gratitude to Abbas Milani and Roma pahud for inviting me and to the Iranian Studies Program please bear with me if I lose the train of my thought tonight I'm still severely jet-lagged and we had a very large family reunion yesterday with which did not improve things the subject of my talk today is the emergence of Iranian nationalism and I'd like to give you a little bit of background about what I exactly mean by that by Iranian nationalism I refer to a cluster of ideas that I am sure you're all very familiar with these ideas there are essentially three three of them that I would like to focus on today the first is the idea that Iran is the land of Aryans so I'm referring to this opposition that exists between the Aryan race and the Semitic race in the nationalist imagination the second is this infatuation with pre-islamic Iran which is very common among the nationalists that I I work on and this translates into you know this infatuation also with Persepolis and Cyrus the Great and and so on the pre-islamic Iran is is presented as a golden age that very much epitomizes the the essence of Iranian as' the third set of ideas that I work on is the equally profound hostility towards Arabs that exists in the in this nationalist literature Arabs as a people Arabic as a language and Islam as a religion presumed to be of good closely related to to to to to Arabs now these ideas are of course expressed in a number of texts and so on but they also manifest themselves in a set of visuals and that's why I chose these slides here for you to give you an idea of what I am referring to there are a number of ornamental elements from the pre-islamic past that are nothing short of ubiquitous in individuals of iranian businesses and so on and I have here picked a few examples to to illustrate my point I'd like you to pick up on the zoroastrian winged figure known as fervor or fair washy which I find very interesting because as I'm sure a lot of you would have noticed it is very much ubiquitous it's very common to see it on a necklace particularly here in California and also in the past 15 and 20 years it has become a very important motif for tattoos and I dare say that about 85% of the tattoos I have seen on the bodies of Iranians are this exact figure so we are talking about a very limited number of shapes and ornaments that are very much redundant and you know it they happen they occur time and again and this is something that I would like to to explicate for you here tonight now did I one day wake up and think these ideas are a bit we have to study them no I would be lying if I made that claim like most Iranians of my background and my generation I grew up in in an environment that absolutely upheld these ideas that I ended up researching however the vagaries of my personal life put sufficient distance between me and these ideas to allow me to approach approach them critically i partly grew up in Switzerland and I extensively traveled in my youth in Iran and the rest of the Middle East and I think that is part of that a personal history which explains my my approach to these two these two his myths and I have to also perhaps mention that having lived very briefly here about 17 years ago for a few months I had some very puzzling interactions with diaspora Iranians which who very much uphold this this ideology with tremendous ideological commitment and that also played a role in essentially paving the way for my research the research led to the publication of the book that Roma mentioned a bit earlier a book that has been now translated into persian what i try to do in this book was to trace the origins of the ideas that i just briefly referred to a moment ago i try to treat them as objects of historical inquiry i think that the the sheer unanimity that surrounds some of these ideas at least in my mind was begging for an explanation and i could not find any serious historical studies of those of those idea of those ideas if anything I believe that most of the historiography of Iran as produced in the 20th century in fact of holes and pedals these these same myths which i think is deeply problematic and as I have claimed in the past I think that our historiography to a large extent needs to be rewritten today now these ideas I refer to them as dislocated nationalism so what do I mean by that I'm not talking about dislocation as in physical and Geographic dislocation which is a concept that is used in migration studies and geography dislocation as experienced by migrants and refugees for instance I am talking about an operation that takes place in the realm of the imagination whereby through the use of certain tropes and ideas Iran is dislodged from its what you could call its empirical reality as a land that finds itself broadly speaking in the east and is populated by a set of ethnicities and a population that largely professors the Islamic faith and has historically Iran is dislodged and thanks to the use of the Aryan race theories presented as somehow out of place in its surroundings and I think that is really epitomized in this quotation from delayed Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi who said to Anthony Parsons who was the last British ambassador of the Mohave period said to him that Iran's situation in the Middle East is quote unquote an accident of geography so I find that this needs to be to be problematized this idea that Iran is somehow out of place and of course it is the idea as you as I will as i will argue is indepted to racial these racial ideas of Arianism at the core of my book i make three claims one is that this locative nationalism is is a modern ideology without any ancient roots i have researched the primary sources and there is no trace of it prior to very late in the nineteenth century and in fact it's only in the 20th century that these ideas become common thanks to the part of e state which promotes them my second claim is that the origins of a lot of these ideas does not lie in Iran or in Iranian texts but in European Orientalists scholarship now what the nationalist thinkers did was not simply to adopt these ideas wholesale there was a very complex process of hybridization and indigenous Asian of selection of these ideas which is at the core of my research and thirdly I claim that this locative nationalism is the dominant nationalist ideology of Iran is the dominant form of identity politics in Iran partly because it was incorporated into the official ideology of the path of estate and therefore promoted through mass cooling propaganda and the symbolic repertoire of the state so so in order to carry out my research I embarked on a journey to the sources of dislocated nationalism and this journey first of all took me to the early car jar period the Dajjal period is a long 19th century if you will the ha jars ruled over Iran from more well approximately the late 18th century to 1925 so the long 19th century and so as I was walking out of my imaginary time capsule while researching the primary sources I came to a number of observations in relations to the the ideas that I mentioned earlier the first is that the fatwa that winged that winged Zoroastrian figure is in the early 19th century completely absent from the visuals produced in this period from the paintings the statues and so on and it is also absent from earlier visuals from the Safavid period particularly the miniatures that were created at that time first observation the second observation is that in this period there is no nation of Iran in the modern sense in fact there is no state in the modern sense the Hajj our state is a very loose dynastic realm which is not a modern state in the sense that it does not have any any institution that can allows it to control and police its territory in its entirety there's not a single national institution in this in this period and as a result of that there is no Iranian citizenship and there is no obviously there's no Iranian citizenry moreover in 1800 there is not a single national history of Iran there are histories that have been produced on the Iranian plateau of several types you have the kings of a Jam literature of the Shahnameh is part of which focuses on the pre-islamic period and generally mixes history with myths you have Islamic histories that cover Iranian history with more than Iranian history and you have universal histories but you do not have a national history of Iran focusing on the Iranian plateau and having a historical coverage from the pre-islamic period to the present in 1800 not yet this will happen in 1815 and I will come back to it the term Iran exists of course in this period and accuse quite often in ancient sources however its meaning is fairly fluid in more ancient sources it is I call it a Geo cultural idea in this period it happens to be the official name of this week Pajar state which is referred to as the mammalogy Marussia iran the guarded domains of iran however it is also very often called the guarded domains of the or jar this is still a dynastic realm these are things that I believe is are important to bear in mind as a background to the history of the development of this locative nationalism the third observation is that we know very little about the identity of the common man of the ordinary tribesmen and villagers of this period simply because they were illiterate illiteracy rates in this period are estimated at around 95% 90 to 95 percent so the common man has not left written sources that can inform us about his or her identity whether it is very likely that identities in this period are extremely localized I am a native of kermanshah for instance or I am a native of Shiraz like Hafez used to claim in his writings Hafez that is today considered the epitome ization of the iranian soul and so on has never said I am an Iranian the idea I believe in this period was a a foreign so identities were localized and identities were religious as well I am a Shia Muslim I am nasha bandi there dervish I am a Jew I am as her a stream from that place so it is it's the the the little that we know about the the common man the testimonies that have been passed down seemed to indicate that identities were not national in the modern sense the fourth observation is that the elites of the Pajar period this had this happy group of people are but a group of people are extremely proud and self-contented and I think that their pride and self contentment is rooted in two things one is Persian high culture by which I mean the mysticism and literature that has developed over the ages in the Persian language and I insist on that too to make sure to convey the idea that it is not territorial this it's not a territorial idea of Iran hockey Iran etc these are ideas that will come in later this is a cultural form of pride that comes from your command over the Persian language and the second the it and and this pride is also rooted in the second element which is Islam so the Hajj our rulers of course drank as we know it's obvious from the visuals left and passed down they smoked opium they liked women but they derived a great deal of pride from from Islam it was it was at the core of their sense of cultural superiority in this period it is not the Aryan race that's what I'm trying to say the the idea of the Aryan race does not occur in the text that these people have passed down moreover in the early in the first half of the 19th century the Kajol rulers derived a great deal of pride from the fact that they supposedly descended from one of the generals of Chinggis Khaan the Mongol invader something that would be absolutely inconceivable in the nationalist period later on to derived pride from a Mongolian Vader which will then be reinterpreted and reimagined as a foreigner of foreign invader and so on more importantly fifth observation there is no written source in either verse or prose in this period that discusses the Aryan race all that refers to the advent of Islam to Iran as the Arab invasion which is the ubiquitous phrase that is used in the 20th century literature on Iran so all of this brings me to my first conclusion which is that the ideas of dislocated nationalism or modern and they appear after the beginning of the 19th century and that is that is not a great discovery I should perhaps and this most historians of nationalism are modernists in the sense that they believed that nations or modern construction that appear in the modern period and even ethnos seem symbolist who are essentially who who have reacted against modernism would claim that whatever existed prior to the modern period the dynastic realm or the ethany or the sort of like the community of memory and so on is significantly reengineering into a modern nation-states in the modern period so the question is what happens in this period what is it that brings about these ideas that we are all so familiar with what sets in motion the wheel of modern nationalism several things sorry thirsty must be the weather as opposed to the family reunion what happens is a profoundly traumatic encounter with Europe in the first half of the nineteenth century a traumatic encounter with Europe and its newfound military and political might and in our case this contact first came through Russia our main and first contact with Europe was with Russia and of course Iran has been in contact with the West particularly in the Safavid period particularly the 17th century were a lot of traders and adventures and missionaries flocked to Isfahan the imperial capital of the Safavids but during the 18th century this contact ceases and as you know Iran lives a fairly isolated life behind its formidable natural barriers so it is really a discovery of what happens during the first the the – II Russo Iranian Wars of the 19th century and I think it is important to highlight that the fact that this first contact came to Russia had a different a different dimension to it Rudy Mattie who was here I think last couple of weeks ago has done very interesting research on Iranian views of Russians particularly the Safavid period they dim view that they had of Russians it is fair to say that elite Iranians in the Safavid period despised Russians that they considered to be Bible s and boo uncouth almost subhuman in some of the text that they have left we have behind but now the Russians are at the border of the kadjar States with a large standing army that seems absolutely impregnable and that annexes large swaths of land in the Caucasus think of Armenia Georgia and what is today called the Republic of Azerbaijan lands that you naturally almost associate with the Russian world places that were Soviet republics in the 20th century but in fact these lands were vassal states of the power jars until they were annexed during these wars by a very aggressive russian empire that was aggressively moving southwards these defeats and the aftermath of these defeats is experienced as a profound humiliation to this happy bunch that I discussed earlier the elites of the kadjar period and I'd like to illustrate that by quoting from Abbas Mirza who's the crown prince at the time and he's reported as saying to a French diplomat what is the power that gives you so great a superiority over us what is the cause of your progress and of our constant weakness you know the art of governing the art of conquering the art of putting into action or human security faculties whereas we seem condemned to vegetate in a shameful ignorance now I have no doubt that these words have been exaggerated by the French diplomat who reports them for purposes of self aggrandizement and so on but I think what they convey in this source and in other sources that are very similar is an inability to come to terms with the defeats of the Rousseau Iranian Wars there is absolutely nothing in traditional Iranian forms of knowledge that can make sense of European modernity of a modern standing army with a central command with conscription with taxation to support it so what I try to highlight here is the is the sort of like the questioning the enigma that it seems to represent and what this leads to is a very long process a very painful process of self questioning which is referred to as the Iranian modernist movement Iranian modernists throughout the 19th century will be concerned with closing that gap with you that military and political gap particularly military at least at the beginning with Europe to acquire the ability to resist European encroachments on the guarded domains of Iran and as a result of that an increasing number of Iranians will travel to Europe for purposes of Education or trade and so on and many of whom will go to Russia then again Russia is our closest European neighbor and acquire a first-hand experience of European modernity so what happens in this period and has parallels elsewhere in the region and the world is that Europe becomes both the model to emulate and the threat the to the the danger of inaction if we do not reform you know Europe is also the threat the the threat that was so that was exemplified by that Russian standing army with this experience this direct experience of Europe gradually Iranian modernist will devise a program of reform to force Iran's way into modernity so they returned from Europe they get together in the modernist gatherings and they start discussing representative government economic developments and social emancipation they gradually come to the belief that the problem with Iran is the Iranian state the Iranian state is arbitrary and needs to be reformed in order to bring about an orderly society that can put up a resistance to foreign armies and these are the ideas that will pave the way to the constitutional revolution of 1906 the purpose of which was to condition the the exercise of royal power the prerogatives of the king and which brought about modern institutions such as the Constitution but also the Parliament if there is only one modernist thinker that has to be named it would be Malcolm Han whose work was extremely important I believe in paving the way for the constitutional revolution which he did not witness himself and perhaps one of the greatest achievements of this period is the dollar saloon which is the dollar saloon which was founded in 1851 and is the first modern institution of higher learning in Iran is the ancestor of the University of Tehran if you will and great many members of the intellectual and political elites of Iran will be trained in this period in this institution so that's what the achievement however if you take the standpoint of 1860 you will think that the modernist project so far has failed for several reasons first of all the Iranian state in 1860 is still our betray secondly Iran is still being defeated on the battleground for instance in 1857 at Herat not by the Russians this time by the British which emerges as the other big European neighbor of Iran by which I mean British India so a number of intellectuals in this period become impatient with the pace of reform become impatient reformism they are disgruntled and they turn to nationalism this one is one of them our homes are they mr. fait le Han orphans are they who in my view is really the founding father of dis locative nationalism this locative nationalism has little changed since the texts of Afonso day one hundred and seventy sixty years ago as my supervisor hamako to Z on likes to point out often though there was a Turkish speaking subject of debts are which is which is absolutely true he spent most of his life in fact almost all his life in Tbilisi in the newly conquered a part of Caucasus newly conquered by the Russians and he served the Russian state and the Russian Viceroy day there as a drag oh man or translator all his life and you can see him on this little picture here in full Russian military regalia wounds are they visited Iran only twice and used to write his nationalist treatises in Azeri Turkish which is something that is not very well known and in fact it was his secretary that would translate these treatises between the Mac – but into into Persian however he is to be credited in the 1860s with the first systematization of the ideas of this locative nationalism that i referred to as at the beginning of my talk these ideas about the grandeur of pre-islamic Iran the scapegoating of Arabs along aryan versus semitic lines and this dissociation of iran from islam what i really wanted to highlight here for you is that there is a there is a great deal of difference between this thought and that thought the difference is that modernists were pragmatic they were concerned with reforming the state however in the dislocated nationalist text of Hansa and those who followed you will be hard-pressed to find any blueprint for reform it is a discursive program or I call it discursive as opposed to pragmatic it is not concerned with reform at all and so historicism that explains iranian esand the essence of iranian as' in racial terms but it doesn't have any program for reforming the state it doesn't have much to say in fact about the state now that being said nobody knew this chap who might have sank into oblivion if it wasn't for the second chap muse of a Hana care money who retrieved the ideas of this curious Turkish man from Russia from oblivion and ensured that they will be they would be disseminated among Iranian intellectuals a few decades later in the 1890s so it's very late in the 19th century when these ideas are being formulated ceremony was a very unusual character he he was from Claremont obviously he flirted with Bob ISM he with Islamic modernism along with Jamal Adina laughs Connie and then became an atheist and a convinced dislocated nationalism his prose is extremely angry I think that's what really is one objective to describe his his prosody is the anger that transcribes that transpires through it so what he did although his work is largely a paraphrase of the work of Afonso day he consolidated the ideas of Afonso day and propagated them in Istanbul in 89 in the 1890s where he was exiled and where there was a large community of any intellectuals and so on but the main difference between him and often say is that he was he had a far better awareness of modern European racial thoughts in fact I credit him with the first mention of the Aryan race in a modern Iranian text and I'll come back to it so so this was so far the sort of like the historical background to the birth of dislocated nationalism now let me move into the intellectual history section where I I try to take a deep plunge into the ideas themselves the first element is what I call Golden Age archaism it's this and this this this obsession with the pre-islamic past which I've decided to illustrate here with this representation which is very modern is from the 1990s those of you who might have traveled to Iran in the 1990s might have seen it it was a very popular print and it was used as a poster in many businesses and restaurants and homes I picked it because I think it's very representative of Golden Age arc ISM first of all note again and again the presence of the fatwa or Farva she there is a background of vegetation and flowers which all is also very typical as it seems to suggest that Freese Namek Iran was a sort of paradise a sort of Garden of Eden The Lost Garden of Eden and equally typically you find a beautiful unveiled woman the idea which in fact goes back to care money in the 1890s being that any problem with the treatment of women in Iran must be blamed on Islam and as a result of that the presumption is that before Islam there was no problem with the treatment of women which is of course which runs counter the historical record we know for instance that in the sasanian period we fetch the price and belong to the mail next of kin but but anyway what is is important to highlight here is that this veneration of the pre-islamic past is not something that you find before this period okay so of course we have the shahnameh literature the kings of IGM literature but this literature never claimed that this period was better or that it represented the essence of iranian s and all that what came after was altogether negative in fact if you look at most of the history is produced in Iran in the pre-modern period the advent of Islam is generally perceived as one of the greatest divine miracles now a couple of things about these these ideas of course they are modern but the origin is also very interesting to find the template of this of this this trope on the pre-islamic past you have to go to the European scholarship the Orientalist scholarship of this dis period and there are there are a couple of reasons for that first of all I think it is fair to say that 19th century or into this scholarship on the Islamic orient is characterized by a profound hostility towards Islam very profound I think it's absolutely nothing controversial about what I am saying here it's been noted many times by scholars the entire literature is extremely hostile to Islam and as a result of this hostility and this sort of like ingrained Islamophobia there is an assumption among orientalists that what was there before Islam must have been great and that is the rationalism perhaps explaining this so many many European thinkers including Montesquieu for instance had a great deal of admiration for the raspbian ISM which Montesquieu mentions in the spirit of the laws knowing nothing about the rationalism she's very interesting so it's purely an assumption and in fact they had never read the the Avesta the Avesta will be translated in the late 18th century by on K tilde P Howe a French man into French and in fact a lot of these thinkers who have great things to say about the rationalism reacted very negatively to the publication of that text because it didn't quite support the assumptions that they had about this faith I think there's another explanation for this idea of rupture in Iranian history in orientalist texts which goes back in my view to humanism and classicism by which I mean sort of like the humanists pawn Shawn for the Greek and Latin classics okay which develops from the 16th century onwards in Europe if you go to if you read Edward Gibbon for instance and his fall of the Roman Empire it perfectly represents that classicist view that antiquity before Christianity in Europe so like the Roman antiquity Greek antiquity was an age of great of tremendous scientific and artistic achievements and what came next was deplorable Gibbons refers to it as the triumph of barbarism and religion okay so this this this vision this reading of European history was applied to the history of Iran by Orientalist thinkers many of whom came to the study of Iran through classics a lot of them were Latinist and so on and so they traveled if you will intellectually to Iran through the Greek and Latin classics however the it doesn't quite work that model for you in history of India is of course a point to be made doesn't work for European history either but in the case of Iran for instance most of the scientific discoveries that were passed down from the early Islamic period take hard as me to whom we owe the terms algebra an algorithm algorithm which is a terms is very much on vogue in this part of the world take Rosie which who is referred to to this day as the greatest clinicians as the greatest clinician of all times take Avicenna whose Canon of Medicine was studied in Europe well into the 17th century where all of this is from the early Islamic peer so I'm just trying to you know approach the the trope a little bit critically now this reading of pre-islamic Iran begs the question what happened and which and that brings me to the second component of this locative nationalism the Arabs came the Arab invasion that's what happened that is the explanation that is provided which in many ways staggers by its white simplicity and I have decided to represented here by this is an illustration that appeared in a Parsi publication and in the Indian Parsi is who in fact had a very similar ideas about aryan history there's a book coming out by a shin Marashi about contacts between iranian nationalists and Parsi thinkers who developed these these tropes on Iranian history in the 19th and 20th centuries so I'd like to to draw your attention to the fact the symbolism of this illustration the designer has represented Arabs as brown males okay they are old brown they are literally brown okay and they are raping or about to rape Iran which is represented as a as a white female there is a there's a feminization of Iranian vulnerability which then again is a very common trope in this literature and the result of all of this is Islamic Iran Islamic Iran in this literature is born of arson and a wave the body of mother Iran has been penetrated by these brown aliens in other terms the territory of Iran has been penetrated the culture of Iran has been penetrated its language has been penetrated and this is a rupture so this is a chop that you find in this literature but you don't find any trace of it prior to the retrieval of these orientalist ideas so the Arab invasion as it is called is really the key moment in history in this locative nationalism is completely totally illogical it explains practically everything you know from the 1979 revolution – you name it it's always this is always a return a reference to this to this one single event and what is interesting about the idea of an Arab invasion is that it is presumed to be essentially about culture so the advent of Islam – Iran was not really about religion it was not an nascent Empire that was trying to expand its tax base which is generally the reason why empires invade other lands it was only rooted in the Arabs natural hostility towards our language and our separate identity and this again is a trope that you find across the board in this literature which is which is really begging for explanation it's very unusual I would say hence the trope that Arabs were essentially concerned about burning down Iranian libraries and and sort of like making sure that the previous texts and cautious disappeared which then again there's absolutely to show it in fact if that was the case I think the first text that they will have burned would have been the surest Rhian text yet the raspbian texts have survived because they were translated into Arabic and passed down through the ages so then again I'm just in passing trying to approach that critically so this locative nationalist literature has a lot of very nasty things to say about Arabs I'd like to quote a passage from Pierre Money who refers to Arabs as coat naked bare us savages hungry vagabonds I Spit on them naked bandits homeless rat eaters vilest humans most vicious beasts camel riding thieves black and yellow scrawny lot not sure what that means animal-like and even worse than animals etc etc I think I would be lying if I didn't say that most of Caramoan is writing is it's just reformulations of what I just said though there are interminable passages of insult and abuses now the question for the historian is what is the use of all of this and I think that the use of all of this is that it provides these people concerned about Iranian backwardness but not really believing in state reform it provides them with a very digestible comfortable self-serving diagnosis of Iran's ills and clearly identifies you know an other to be scapegoated for all of your own shortcomings in fact karmani says it very clearly said any single Iranian shortcoming must be blamed on the on the Arabs it's difficult to come up with something more self-serving than that so backwardness and despotism in the 19th century and in the 20th century and in 1979 are explained by simple all-encompassing reference to Islam and Arabs and so on something that is entirely absent from the previous literature including the Shahnameh which I think has been very much distorted in this regime I'm happy to come back to it in the Q&A if you're interested and of course this too is rooted in European orientalist scholarship and I think one element that is very important and it's directly the result of the of the European view of a racial reading of history is the racial element here ok what is happening here is a case of racial miscegenation racial mixing in the 19th century there was a consensus that races must be maintained pure and that mixing between races would cause degeneration and decadence ok these ideas are epitomized by the kinds of gobino and so on and it explains why and not in many racial States racial a mixing was banned including in this country until as late as in 1967 where racial mixing interracial marriages who were banned until 1967 in states including Florida so the idea here is that the Arab invasion is a case of racial miscegenation it's a case of Aryan purity being contaminated by Semitic filth to use the terminology of those texts and this is partly the reason why these people do not really have a program of reform ok the solution to the ills of Iran is to reverse the clock on this event the solution of dis locative nationalism is to eliminate things that are fairly arbitrarily defined by this locative nationalists as the legacy of Arabs or Mongols or other groups and that includes religion of course there is a there is a sense that religion can be uprooted from Iran and very easily overnight almost and there's language as you know there is about 40% of our vocabulary of Arabic origin in the Persian language and so the purification of the language is one of the only programs of dis locative nationalism for the future of Iran so you can see that as a form of racial purification of cultural eugenics as I call it and there is a there is a belief that once this is done well Iran would immediately return to the glories of how the pre-islamic past don't forget that this talkative nationalism is his story cysts and discursive the the ideational framework that allows for that supports this differentiation of Iranians and Arabs on racial grounds is of course the Aryan race theory to which I turn now so as you know as I'm sure you do know the idea here is that the speakers of indo-european languages are part of the same race which has since the first half of the 19th century in Europe been referred to as the Aryan race and the speakers of the Semitic languages mainly Hebrew and Arabic and so on are part of the Semitic race in 19th century European history this has been used to racially authorize Europe's internal Semitic other the Jews and in fact the Aryan race theory in many ways paved the way for the attempt at genocide at the extermination of European Jewry in the death camps of Nazi Germany in the case of Iran the other is not the Jews there is very little concern with Jews in in the foundational text at least of this locative nationalism but it's the the Semitic other is the Arab I can't say it's an internal other because there's no real significant is no concern with at least at the beginning with speakers of the Arabic language in Iran in this period but it's an it's an imagined other and I insist on the word imagined because because because well for instance you can try to explicate that why the Englishman has been vilified in Irish nationalism or why Polish nationalism demonizes Russians because well Russia was a threat to Poland for a very long time and so was England to Ireland however in the case of Iran Arabs in the late 19th century are no threat to Iran by any stretch of the imagination and in fact Arab nationalism itself is not concerned with Iran at all it's concerned with European imperialism and Ottoman and the Ottomans first and later on the European peace so it's the imaginary character that I try to emphasize here now in connection to Iran Arianism or an Aryan interpretation of even in history first appears of course in Orientalist texts in the 19th century many Orientalists use a ratio framework to make sense of Iranian and Middle Eastern history in this period I should emphasize that in this literature Iranians are never represented as proper Aryans on the grounds of the fact that they speak an indo-european language at best in the writings of Hinault and gobino and so on Iranians or some sort of degenerate debased version of the Aryans but that did not prevent local thinkers primarily care money where is he here to use the Aryan race theory to claim parity with Europeans okay in order to to treat the ill or the the suffering that was generated during the wars with Russia that sense of defeat you know the the questioning of why are we behind etc so the fact of claiming parity with Europeans as you can imagine is a very effective intellectual tool to treat that that ill and also to some extent I think there is a reappropriation of European achievements as ours which is a minor element of this literature so from then on the Aryan race theory takes on really a life of its own in Iran and I think it's an absolutely indispensable ingredient of dislocation as in dislocated nationalism so what I was explaining that it's the Aryan race Theory the framework that he provides that allows to dislodge Iran from its empirical reality and represented as as a relative of the Europeans gone astray by accident in in the Middle East as it were so this brings me to the to the narrative which is at the core of this locative nationalism which is the narrative that you know that you've heard and which is the only treatment of dis locative nationalism for the ill of backwardness the trope would go for instance you Iranians you shall not worry Iran was a great nation in the pre-islamic age it was a racially pure Aryan Nation then it was contaminated by a Semitic and by semantic blood and that's why everything went to the dogs as it was it as we say as we say in in Britain and of course all our problems and shortcomings should be blamed on Arabs and it's as if Iranians had absolutely no agency in their own history that they are absent from their own history in some way now the first incidence of the term of the of the idea of Aryan race is to be found in care monies texts and it's very interesting so too I'm trying to support my claim that the idea is European because in the first in the first incidences of the term he writes ariane in persian which is a transliteration of the french term the french term are here and in fact he mentions that between brackets he provided the french term as well so clearly showing the origin of the ideas there is of course the term area which occurs in ancient sources for instance in the Avesta and on inscriptions in be so tune and elsewhere but the two are very different the two are very different or here is a term we don't really know what it means we know that it refers to a group but we don't exactly know what that group is perhaps it's a social group perhaps it's sort of like an ethnonym we cannot really be sure about it what we do know is that it's not a racial category racial ideas emerge in the modern age they could not have been racial ideas in India Western period for instance no ancient source mentioned that there are areas in faraway lands in the West or elsewhere sustaining commanders never referred to Roman centurions or Byzantine soldiers as fellow Aryans we just don't have any any such we don't have any any any evidence of that the Russian traders who appeared in the Safavid coats were never conceived as distant cousins of from an from another land um who have run out of time I'm going to skip this bit this is my hypothesis about the racial thinkers the pantheon of racial thinkers that have been that have been very influential in bringing about these ideas happy to come back to it later one word on despotism one of the claims that I make in my work is that this locative nationalism was almost bound to become part of a despotic ideology or the practices of a despotic state in other terms destructive nationalism is not very suited for a democratic order such as the one that the constitutionalists tried to create and the reason is that this locative nationalists have defined all the sartorial religious linguistic and cultural practices of iranians as some sort of legacy of the arabs identified for elimination so with this type of ideas you're almost bound to violate the physical and moral integrity of these people you cannot respect their freedoms if you uphold this locative Nashes when you believe that the language that they use at the religion that they profess and how they dress is all alien and has to be eliminated and I think there's a prelude to that in the work of Afonso day in the service of the Russian state the Russian state that at the time was Russa fiying the caucuses with a great deal of violence wounds are they supported that that project he thought it was good for them and he supported the Russian advances in Chechnya so in the history of of the the tensions in Tanzania go back to this period a modern historian has referred to the Russian endeavor in Chechnya at the time of Afonso day as quote mass terrorism bordering on genocide unquote so I think that's it's it's very difficult to make a case that this ideology could become part of the the arsenal of a democratic state a few words about the constitutional revolution because it has been claimed by several historians including Adam yet and/or Jude Ani etc that the constitutional revolution must be attributed to the ideas of Afonso de and harmonious there's a whole literature that claims that we owe them the constitutional revolution and I think there's absolutely nothing to support this disclaim whatsoever the constitutional revolution was the pinnacle of modernist thought of state reform it was not the pinnacle of ethnic and racial forms of nationalism in fact the two are so much at odds in my view that it takes the failure of constitutionalism as a project for dislocated nationalism to start emerging as an alternative ideology among the the intelligentsia so when when the constitutional revolution ends in chaos this is when the ideas of Athens are then came only started to re-emerge in the text and in the publication's not before so so you know I believe that it's very important to differentiate again these two traditions of thought these two ideology so after the constitutional revolution when law and the Constitution were not the panacea anymore that could miraculously save Iran from European imperialism and so on race and ethnicity emerge as the alternative it's it's a it's a common development we have parallels in Vemma Germany or in or in Russia under under Yeltsin when civic reform and democratic principles become discredited when people start to associate freedom with chaos okay it generally paves the way for the emergence of a nationalist state in the case of Weimar Germany often of an ethnic form of nationalism in other terms in this period what happens in Iran is that a civic form of nationalism there is a there's a transition from a civic form of nationalism to an ethnic form of nationalism the constitutionalist project represents civic forms of Iranian nationalism nationalism that is embodied in instamate institutions the Constitution the Parliament the state and its laws and ethnic nationalism is a nationalism that is closed and descriptive and is essentially grounded in ethnic ideas of who is in and who is out thus the state that emerges after the constitutional revolution two decades later the path of a state upheld an ethnic form of nationalism running after okay but how can this discursive ideology be implemented in practice by a state I think there are a number of policies in the early part of appeared that cannot really be explained without a prior study of this locative nationalism one is the assault on Islam in the 1930s so remember that in the 1930s the police state pretty much bans all external manifestation of faith so the the mourning ceremonies or Rosa honey the processions of the Muharram month the the passion plays the Tazi and so on or in their entirety banned by the the path of estate so these are events that are very important to the communal life of Iranians in both the cities and the rural areas at the time and of course the forced unveiling of women in 1936 in my view cannot be fully explained without a reference to the ideas of Afonso de and Germany and so on the path Navi states saw as its objective to return Iran into its pre-islamic past hence the constant parallels that were drawn between both path of Eman arcs and cringe than pre-islamic ancient Iranian kings the entire symbolic repertoire of the states was designed in order to convey that message in architecture for instance this is a picture from the Ferdowsi mausoleum in tooth built in 1934 which note the farm are always there it's built as a a streon temple which is very interesting because you know third OC professes his attachment to the Islamic faith in the introduction to the Shahnameh which is a biography of sorts I'm going to skip this part for the sake of time happy to come back to it drink you a simply to say that it was not only the state that propagated this located nationalism in the twentieth century there were a number very important very important cultural figures that did the job that contributed to the work including so there a dyad who is I think undoubtedly the greatest writer in the modern history of Iran and there's also of course the famous Abdul has Jose Nazarian Kubb and his famous dog on is so cool two centuries of silence and lastly there is a show joy Denisha for who was the Shahs ghostwriter the brain behind the 2005 hundred anniversary celebrations in 1971 who has written who before his death he wrote a book of about 1000 pages if I'm not mistaken a jolly sick book the only argument of which is that the 1979 revolution must be blamed on the Arab invasion so the this locative nationalism has morphed into one of the most potent forms of secular opposition to the Islamic Republic legacy may I draw your attention to the fervor here on the handle of mohammad reza shah Sabre ubiquitous image which in in it on its own exemplifies I think the dislocated Nationals longing for the pre-islamic past what I want to point out here is that as the dominant form of ideology the Islamic Republic is not entirely immune to dislocated nationalism first of all you find racial ideas very similar to those of Afonso de anchormen in the writings of Sharia differences the who's recognized the main ideologue of the Islamic Republic who sees Shia Islam as the product of the Arian mind so essentially he claims in one of his later a pieces of writing in one his late latest lectures that yes Islam is the product of the Semitic mind which is a dislocated nationalist claim however Shia Islam is in area noised version of Islam as ours so it's very interesting and of course in 2010 some a very interesting event took place which was that the British Museum loaned the Cyrus cylinder to the National Museum in Tehran the sorry cylinder which occupied since the 2500th anniversary of the Persian Empire quote-unquote a central place in the ideology of the sake of nationalism it is claimed that it is the first text of human rights and so on which again is very interesting given that human rights are an idea typical of the 18th century how could they be and a cylinder produced in the 6th century before BC but anyways the the event was very interesting because it was a festival of dislocated nationalist ideas and not in the mouth of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi but in that of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who from this period onwards tries to promote his idea of the Iranian doctrine whereby he claims it cyrus degrades it was a prophet and so on and so on so you have a very interesting hodgepodge here of ideas typical of the Islamic Republic and ideas typical of the of this talkative nationalism and in the process he saw they were supplying individuals in in full cyrus the great regalia in the background when the cylinder traveled to Iran and at Medina had managed to adorn one of them with the Palestinian calf ei which is which is the essential element of the sort of like the Islamic Republic sort of like symbols and reverses ali khamenei always wears one and so on and so this attempt to fuse this locative nationalism and the islamic republic completely backfired as you can imagine it made everybody angry both the dislocated nationalists and the the officials of the islamic republic i think that a dislocated nationalism has brought about a profound rift among iranians between those that adhere to it and who don't those who had here to the ideology of the Islamic Republic and I think that so far all attempts to bridge the divide have have have have failed there is a an ex PhD student of mine who's writing about that and I really look forward to to do to knowing more I think this period is actually very understudied the post 1979 period when it comes to nationalism final words I was mentioning that upholding this locative nationalist ideas has become a very powerful form of opposition to the Islamic Republic we have in the last few years witnessed the emergence of a I don't know how to call it a ritual whereby there are large gatherings of people of course with a lot of fervor and and so on around the tomb of Cyrus the Great on Cyrus day and you find more and more people literally kneeling before the the tempt the the service degrades a grave which is not something that we used to see prior so it's in my view it's interesting because it shows the evolution and the mutations of this knockety of nationalism in in the present period thank you very much this is the end [Applause] so I'm going to take a few questions I have the attention span of a goldfish so I hope you don't mind if I take one question at a time because if I take several I'm going to forget the only ones I think the gentleman here was the first thank you very interesting question yes I think that the the Iranian allama for a long time did not see it as part of their mission to come up with an alternative to modernism and dislocated nationalism there were there was some involvement of do remind the constitutional revolution although I think that recent studies by mangled by odds in particular shows that it's mostly middle ranking and possibly crypto Barbie members of the ulama but I think the mainstream of the clerical hierarchy was quietest for most of the 20th century and you know the the Shia tradition considers temporal power as as a usurpation of the prerogatives of the Hidden Imam so they traditionally still clear from it although in fact since the Safavid period they have been condoning political power I think it's really it's really how many who changes things Khomeini departs completely from the Shia quietest tradition and influenced by the ideas of Sharia tea is such returns a Shia Islam into a sort of like ideology for revolutionary mobilization now was that a response to this locative nationalism I don't think so I think it was it was a response to the path of a state the parody state was not it's it's there's more to the parody state than the sake of nationalism I want to say but and yes so so so coming back to the origins of this talkative nationalism this talkative nationalism emerges so as I said in the 1860s where it sort of like hybridizes ideas that you find in or interest X from the late 18th century onwards so in a context that is absolutely not influenced by it by by Shia Islam in fact in it you know we're going to contact outside of the Iranian context so to speak yes the Middle East had the civilization the Egyptian civilization of the dunya version if you watch the discussion on man make sure that school and anyone knows even Francis Fukuyama have mentioned everyone knows that Islam came from a place that has never had a civilization but they have tried void and for that they were surviving and the research showed that Iranian have just 14% genetic origin they have been raped that it's not Egyptian people come and say oh my god you are so wonderful forget about all our civilization or or technology or our science and Islam is the most wonderful it was wonderful teams came here and every one with all the big civilization can we keep it to one question please just out of respect for thee so yeah thank you for your question yes thank you I got your point by them madam if what you are after is a reiteration of the ideas that I analyzed today I think that there are a lot of groupings that you could join and find a lot of like-minded people who would use the same ideas to explain the histories of Iran and give each other Pat's in the back I think if you were after that sort of thing perhaps you should not have come to Stanford University tonight my work is to analyze historically yes thank you i I yes I do not remember having said that coat on coat Islam is a wonderful thing and I do not remember having said quote unquote that there were no civilization in the Middle East yet I would like to address the underlying points that you're trying to make I think the idea that Islam was born in the desert among violent tribes etc then again is a very typical trope of this literature which is not supported by the historical record I think it is recognized today that great civilizations have not emerged including in that part of the world which you refer to as Saudi Arabia which is a not modern invention and of course they didn't exist in this period including the Nabataean civilization particularly which was rather greater civilization in dispute but anyway this is not this is this is not my point what perhaps gets lost in translation in your representation of the history of islam and iran as to fundamentally separate entities the only connection between the two being this event is that Iran is not alien to Islam I think that historical records shows not only a great deal of continuity so you know we can't really talk of a rupture in the sense that this literature and you mentioned rape by paraphrasing this literature not only there is no evidence of that there's a great deal of continuity in the sort of like the the practices of the state and so on and so forth and many religious seditious movements emerged that emerge out of idiosyncrasies between Islam and the rest music and I think and I think it's also very important to point out as Richard Frye has and horrid others are honey in their work that the Persian language so that Persian high culture that the Barger was so proud of was the second language of Islam it is a language that originates in Mesopotamia okay in what we used to call our origin it was not the language of the vast majority of the inhabitants of the Iranian world on the Iranian Plateau and beyond and it is it was used by the armies of Islam to bring Islam to the eastern part of the Iranian world at the expense of the local Iranian languages Bactrian and Sogdian have disappeared as a result of Islamic expansion to the east with the Persian language I'm simply mentioning this because it is just one element of the history of the region that seems to me at least to completely undermine the ideas of dislocation measures yes so thank you thank you there's something interesting to be said here the negative use of russians dates to the Safavid period I think they were radically transformed after the Russo Persian was and you have a lot of modernist texts that try to understand how Peter the Great's reforms transformed Russia and so on so Russia in fact becomes a model by the 19th century omens are these hatreds of Arabs it's it's it's it's difficult to assess the man's psychology perhaps the following is an explanation the village he was born in knew ha was annexed by the Russians a couple of years after he was birthed so he was born in that part of Azerbaijan which is today on the other side of the border in the in the Republic of Azerbaijan so not only a foul did he find himself in Russia but he found himself at the service of the Russian state his first boss at the Viceroyalty of Russia and Melissa was paskevich paskevich which is the chap who signed the document I Treaty which is considered as a greatest humiliation in Iranian history which was a nothing less of a series of diktats so perhaps what explains the fact that he redirects his hatred is the fact that he's he's highly aware that he's serving a state that has been the enemy of Iran that has annexed Iranian lands that has killed a great many and mistreated a great many Iranian tribesmen and and villages and perhaps he's trying to you know legitimize his work for himself perhaps that that is one one explanation and I I found element of that in some of his correspondence he has a very substantial correspondence with a many Iranian and Russian thinkers at the time I hope I answered your question yes so I'm not sure I'm not an engine historian and I would like to direct you towards the works of richard fry's tiny bit dated maybe her daughter is a honey when you say Arabs and Iranians again you are using modern categories that did not exist at the time you had the subjects of the sasanian empire that spoke a whole series of languages including Semitic languages including at the court and Arab was a tribal category initially but I think that it's very important to realize that by the time the armies of Islam reached the central regions of the of the plateau a great many ex Sicilian soldiers serve in its ranks and my understanding from the existing literature is that there was a great deal of fatigue with the sasanian State at the time and people were happy to see it go and Islam was embraced for by many for various reasons and it took a long time not everybody embraced Islam immediately so this idea of the rupture overnight we are raped and so on it's not supported by by the by the historical record it took at least 400 years for Islam to become really the majority faith of the inhabitants of that region but then again Reza Hani and others please for our fundamental it is the key promises the ABS that the Persians will be defeated by the wrong what doesn't understand why should errors we rejoice in that the fact that Romans will be mentally defeat the Persians you only successfully defeated second Greek mojado I mean how do is not the European says unless the Arab invasion came to the places like Egypt from Morocco and first it was essentially the wild dreams of world it was there the notion that the pollution actually cause it's perfect as better than Arabic completely undermines your feel that it is the nineteenth century Europeans you look at history especially from Europe any model you think the York that state is what the Europeans define the system and then you work backward and you say the wrong thing so now there are several several several comments that I would like to respond to so you seem to be suggesting that there is a hostility between Iranians origins and Arabs that has very long history and that is not modern fundamentally I don't dispute that first of all first of all I'd like to then again insist that what we call Iranians and Arabs today are the products of Iranian ashes of an Arab nationalism the definition of what and who an arab is goes back to Satya who story and so on we're talking about the early 20th century so I think that it's anachronistic to project those categories back on ancient history my point is that there is a racial understanding of Arabs and Iranians which is attributable to European thoughts and I hate that I did not manage to find any other origin to it there is not in the literature that you mentioned the idea that first of all a group of people share psychological behavioral characteristics that is the modern idea of race and there is no trace in the literature that you refer to of this idea of racial miscegenation miscegenation between groups was the rule in that period as as you know and they are you mentioned so again that hostility and that rivalry between Arabs or Arab Arabic speakers and Persian speakers what is interesting is that you have Iranians and Arabs on both sides of the argument particularly in the show beer for instance you have Persian kings that are great patrons of the Arabic language and bilingualism is the rule for centuries in the cultural elites of the region so no I don't think that what you're referring to shows that nothing is new here I think that the racial ideas that are indepted to orient these literature's are definitely modern and I do not find and I think that Rome Italia day for instance was worked extensively on the Sharia has shown that these ideas are not that ancient events have been distorted in light of this ideology now talking of modernity and Europe and so on I mean I am a firm believer in multiple modalities and the way I define modernity which is a notoriously as you know difficult concept to define is partly you know the inclusion of a territory or population in a global capitalist system and the uses of modern technology and imperialism and so on for me Iranian modernity is rooted in that encounter with the West not because I adhere to modernization theory and I think modernity comes from the West but because the modernity that mattered to these people they believed it came from the West and it could only be achieved through an emulation of the West I don't I address your your comments we will have a discussion over dinner yes so what I meant by that is that you do not find in the Roger period I certainly know in the beginning of the or GOP a single nationwide institution there is not no institution that is present on the entire territory which is a defining feature of a modern state you don't have a national army you have tribal forces that need to be levied or even bribed on occasions by the central government the set the the regional Lords are sometimes as powerful if not more powerful than the central government and can be a threat to it you don't have a police force you don't have customs officers and so on but then again coming back to the definition of modernity if you take a more utilitarian definition of modernity here modernity emerges when there is a comprehensive system of conscription for a central centrally commanded and a standing army when there is taxation it's a it's a phenomenon that in Iran does not quite exist until until the period after the constitutional revolution I actually see the modern state as being a creation of the constitutional revolution and not of the periphery of the palace but that's that's my my theory I think the part IV the first part IV King inherited an emerging modern state that had this problem that was problem that was weak and there were tremendous centrifugal forces that were unleashed by the constitutional revolution however you had the embryo of a civil service you had the embryo of a number of things that define a modern state industrialization I don't really see any trace of it until the 20th century there is the inclusion of Iran into the Imperial global system of capitalism which very much hurts the Iranian economy and also leads to the concessions and so on but I think industrialization really we can we can really start to talk about industrialization only with the early reso period and from the beginning it was fueled by by by all revenue and led to run T air state as opposed to an industrialized States I can remember thank you the gentleman in blue icing on the conversion yes the conversion of Iranians to the Shia faith was a was a state and never in the Safavid period in which started in the sixteenth century so the Safavids were very zealous she rulers that trace the origin to sort of like a mystical Brotherhood and they they they endeavored to convert Iranians on mass to schism a project that was very successful because it was almost entirely achieved by by the 18th century but before the Safavids the majority of the inhabitants of the Iranian plateau living I'm careful not to say Iranian because I don't want to commit any anachronism did not profess the the Shia faith the Ryerson Cyrus had great armies yes probably yeah but they didn't have a central command or system of conscription or taxation to support it yeah oh one one question okay I think the gentleman here was and then you and I currently okay is completely out of the picture yes so my reading is that every time a group of Islamic Republic officials want to shore up their patriotic credentials they fall back on this locative nationalism simply because they have never formulated a an alternative to dislocated nationalism and I think that one of the things that Ahmadinejad tried to achieve was to appeal to nationalists including in the Diaspora and that explains what happened there so yeah the gentleman yes so to some extent I think I mean you you have across-the-board anti colonial forms of nationalism of course in India and elsewhere what perhaps sets dislocated nationalisms in its first phase in the 19th century at least a part is is rooted in the fact that Iran is not formally colonized and this locative nationalism is not generally aimed at European colonialism I think that Indian anti colonial forms of nationalism are more radical in rejecting Europe than than this other nation that attempts really to emulate you but yes you have a similar a similar situation no no I I take I take your point there are of course features that are that have to be studied trans trans originally certainly and that's why I am really looking forward to read I've seen Marcia's books on contact with with with Indian Parsi communities in bringing about these ideas I think that what perhaps defines then again this talkative nationalism is dislocation I tried very hard to find other examples of this imaginary operation of dislocation in other forms of nationalism I looked at a camel ism in Turkey I looked at Indian versions of the Aryan race theory which I think never really caught on in many ways or even a pan-africanism and although there are elements of imaginary dislocation none of these cases is quite as extensive as the as the Iranian case yes I'm not so Japanese Japanese historian [Laughter] there is nationalism in Japan there is nationalism in the United States there's Japanese nationalism in Mexico to know all the same I I think no true absolutely no I think what one of the one of the in in the field of nationalism theory one of the distinctions that I find particularly helpful although it's been very much criticized in the study of international is a distinction between civic and ethnic nationalism and and I use it to to look at that transition from the from the constitutional period and modernism and ideas about law and state reform to the ethnic nationalism of the of the part of you period I think it's it's that that comparison is very convincing but as I mentioned you find parallels as well in vimar Germany and and elsewhere but I think that there are very few cases of civic nationalism in in the third world and certainly in Iran Civic forms of nationalism died out I think most out there is probably the last upholder of a civic form of nationalism that he believes is enshrined in the institutions of the state yeah there was okay [Applause]

11 thoughts on “The Emergence of Iranian Nationalism: Race and the Politics of Dislocation

  1. he's talking nonsense we don't hate any nations these people are built up such subject for their own interest and USA such fake subject shame own

  2. Lol, what a joke of a presentation. I guess as long as you call yourself a Muslim you can commit any ugly act and say it's all good because that's how Iran has been for ages and ages.

    "This is how it's always been! We're Muslims!"

  3. Wow, thanks for taking native people of Tehran out of your equation. we, (prior to 1979 when others moved to Tehran) are mostly of Scythian race or Iranian Alans race. But to keep others off out back, we often introduce ourselves as Georgians, or Russians because there is less hatred towards those. But we really have nothing to do with Russians or Georgians. We are the Iranians ancestors that controlled Iran from Russian territories, before Russia came into existence. So we're talking about 7,000 years ago

    Our kings were always named Aria-pour or Aria-peithes in Greek. That's where the Aria-n race started; simply us as descendants of Aria-pour.

    IT is true that we split into 3 groups; one headed and settled in east Asia, one headed west and settled in Ireland and Scotland (which comes from the word Scythland), and the rest of us migrated to Tehran and parts of Isfehan

    Let's not forget what Cyrus said; “parsa parsahya puthra ariya ariyachitra”, meaning, “a Persian, the son of a Persian, an Aryan, of Aryan family (Inscription at Naqsh-i-Rustam, near Persepolis, Iran)

  4. Islam is a war plan codified in the koran. Why should the 7th century cretins be able to dictate shit to the world, let alone seek a "caliphate".
    People need to recognize that islam has failed the moslems and left them centuries behind the west.
    That includes moslems!!!!!!

    And their agent, the subtle "UN" wants to conquer and lead the worId?

  5. Thanks a lot for such a brilliant presentation. When I was in 16 month obligatory milliyary service in 2007-8 in iranian police headquarter in tehran I read a report about iranian joke SMSs excuted by police. The results demonstrated that in 2007 about 20%, 13%, 11% and 9% of SMS joks were about Lor ethnic, Ayatollah jannati and other regime figures, women and Turks of Iran respectively. The report adds that in 2005, 76% of ethnic jokes were about Turks and Lors with 8% were in second place. Probabely mass uprising in 2006 Azerbaijan and Tehran had been the main reason for significant decrease in the percent of humilating joks against Turks but Lors took tehir place in less than two years. So, admiting the existance of racisim against Arabs Turks also were the main target of agressive natinalism in Iran. A look at texts produced by them in early 20th show this.

  6. There are some point that have to be criticized: 1) The claim that there was no notion of Iran is wrong. There was a notion of Iran starting in the Avesta with the Term Ariyana Xshatra (Aryan Imperium). Ofcorse from time to tome this notion became a different meaning depending on the social-geographic context f.e. in Vendidad was this land described as best land of habitat; In Yashts, Yasna and Widewdadm there was a notion of iran f.e. airyene vaejahi (Plain of the aryans) in Pahalavi Eran-wez. In Sassanid Period the Zoroastrian Priest Kerdir gave a clear geographical understanding of Iran, claiming that : Pars, Pahlaw, Ray, Kirman, Khuzestan Susa, Spahan etc. indicating modern Iran, Iraq, modern Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkmenistan were parts of it. In Sassanid time there were also defenition that identifying iranian characteristic(menisn) such as peymane (measure/moderation)
    Understanding of Iranian-ness among Achemenids, f.e. Dariyus, Xerxes, Artaxerxes wrote down that they are of Aryan heritage and ethnicity. Darius was even aware of the fact that the scythians in europe were of iranian origin, he was punishing them that they do not follow Ahura Mazda and were considered faithless, which clearly indicates that from that time on, there was clear understanding of being Iranian. 2) The claim that thinkers of montesqiue knowledge about zoroastrianism based only on assumptions is wrong; Herodot, Plutarch, Starbo, Plato, Pliny the Elder, Gmestis Plethon, Eudoxos of Knidus and many more greek writers, transmitted certain zoroastrian ideas to the west, specially the dualism between good and evil. 3) The ridiculous claim that there was not iranian nationalism before Akhundzade and Kermani; The Shahname is a product of nationalistic thinking starting with the Samanid Dynasty and culminating into Daqiqi and Ferdausi. Even the Abassid Dynasty was a product of pan-iranic schubiya movement. Yet it was not a state nationalism but a cultural and linguistic nationalism. 4) He made the point that it is strange that Shah create the Ferdausi Temple in a Zoroastrian Fasion since Ferdausi was refering to himself in the Shahname as follower of Islam. I dont see any contradiction here, since Ferdausi not only refers to Zoroastrianism frequently in his work, but he also introduce pre-zoroastrian mythological figures, such as Simorgh. So obviosly Ferdausi was a nostalgic patriot, a former Dehqan who tried to preserve pre-Islamic history and culture of iran. If we want to speak about his worldview, one can clearly see his pessimism about human beings and time (maybe influenced by Zurvanite ideas), so nothing Islamic about him at all, if he refers to himself as muslim it has clearly political dimensions. 4) Hafez was absent of an notion of Iran? Are you kidding me? Hafez was very well aware of Mithraistic-preislamic iranian notions like f.e. Meye Moghan but absent of an notion of Iran? How ignorant Reza zia Ebrahimi had to be to ingore the fact thath Nouruz, Mehrgan, Tirgan and many zoroastrian notions still keep the iranians of the iranian plateau unified and clearly indicate that there was an awareness of cultural identity of being iranian.

    The positive thing to say is that you pointed out that an Azari (Akhundzade) was drawing this narrative of the Arabic Ahrimans who destroyed Persian civilization, yet Iranian civilization had much more to suffer on the Hand of Turco-Mongolian Invasion, but its clear that a turk speaking akhundzadeh wont blame it on this part of iranian history.
    Last but not least it is correct that Iranian Nationalism unfortunately mixed up with European Racist thoughts and the illusion of an Aryan Brotherhood. Iranian Nationalism should only rely on the cultural heritage and language and there is no problem with that at all, specially with the cultural thieves around Iran!

  7. So how Shahnameh's Iran and Tooran could be explained? If there was no notion of "Iran" as an entity, territory or nation.

  8. Stanford in general is a joke when it comes fo Iranian studies. There is no worse misrepresentation of national identity than what we just heard.

  9. lousy and full of mistakes
    such a shame and waste of time
    a mix of half facts and wrong assumptions.

    Iran was a “nation” long before the term “nationhood” was developed.
    what a joke these scholars have become

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