Iran's Intellectual Revolution

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Since its revolution in 1978-79, Iran has been viewed as the bastion of radical Islam and a sponsor of terrorism. The focus on its volatile internal politics and its foreign relations has, according to Mehran Kamrava, distracted attention from more subtle transformations which have been taking place there in the intervening years. With the death of Ayatollah Khomeini, a more relaxed political environment opened up in Iran, which encouraged intellectual and political debate between learned elites and religious reformers about the nature of Iranian society, its traditions, and its principles. What emerged from these interactions were three competing ideologies which Kamrava categorizes as conservative, reformist, and secular, and which he illustrates with reference to particular thinkers. As the book aptly demonstrates, these developments, which amount to an intellectual revolution, will have profound and far-reaching consequences for the future of the Islamic Republic, its people, and very probably for countries beyond its borders. This thought-provoking account of the Iranian intellectual and cultural scene will confound stereotypical views of Iran and its mullahs.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Relying on interviews with Iranian intellectuals and Persian-language sources, Kamrava (Georgetown Univ.) has written an erudite, sophisticated book about the three major intellectual currents in Iran: religious conservative, religious reformist, and secular modernist. He identifies principal personalities and philosophical underpinnings within each of these contending discourses. The strengths and weaknesses of each discourse are assessed and analyzed in detail.... Highly recommended." - Choice

"Kamrava's work is valuable as it exposes readers to many intellectuals who are virtually unknown outside of Iran and helps provide a deeper understanding of the more familiar ones.... [I]t offers an essential overview of the country's three major currents of political thought. Furthermore, the author has tackled a delicate and emotionally charged debate with tact, respect, and objectivity." - American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521725187
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 10/27/2008
  • Series: Cambridge Middle East Studies Series, #29
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 1,557,335
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Mehran Kamrava is the Director of the Center for International and Regional Studies at Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar. His recent publications include The Modern Middle East: A Political History since the First World War (2005) and The New Voices of Islam: Rethinking Politics and Modernity (ed., 2006).

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Table of Contents

List of tables viii

Acknowledgments ix

1 Introduction 1

2 Emerging Iranian discourses 10

3 Theorizing about the world 44

4 The conservative religious discourse 79

5 The reformist religious discourse 120

6 The secular-modernist discourse 173

7 Iran's silent revolution 214

Bibliography 227

Index 262

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