chapter  2
15 Pages

Crafting a national identity amidst contentious politics in contemporary Iran


It is perhaps no exaggeration to suggest that the crafting and re-crafting of national identity through actions of authorities and/or political mobilization and struggle has been a national preoccupation in modern Iranian history. This is not to imply that Iranians and their political leaders, going through the global process of modernity, have been any more or less creative than others in the world in reinventing their ‘national’ selves. However, a case can be made that in the 20th century Iranians have been afforded,2 or have produced, more opportunities to recreate themselves in a bombastic and dualistic fashion, energetically vacillating between extremes of contentious Islamism and secularism, pre-Islamic and Islamic imagination, and avid anti-imperialism and absorption in global trends.