The Political History of Modern Iran: From Tribalism to Theocracy

The Political History of Modern Iran: From Tribalism to Theocracy

The Political History of Modern Iran: From Tribalism to Theocracy

The Political History of Modern Iran: From Tribalism to Theocracy

Synopsis

This book offers a concise and comprehensive examination of Iran's political history from the establishment of the Qajar dynasty in 1785 until the present. It focuses on both the historical processes and phenomena to which these institutions have been exposed. Since politics do not occur within a culturally vacuous context, attention is also drawn to the dominant characteristic of Iran's political culture--from tribalism and religion to the cult of personality and political demagoguery--that have similarly shaped political life in Iran. Such characteristics have acquired added accent under the revolutionary regime of the Islamic Republic, although the revolution's routinization has once again brought about a measure of political normalcy.

Excerpt

This book analyzes the political history of Iran from the establishment of the Qajar dynasty in 1785 until the present. It examines three dominant features that have, over the centuries, come to characterize Iranian politics and history: the underlying dynamics that have historically resulted in recurrent instances of political autocracy, the intervention of outside forces, and revolutions in Iranian political history. In this pursuit, the book portends neither to present a strictly historical narrative of Iran in recent centuries, nor does it necessarily offer new and previously undiscovered data (with the exception of chapter four, which discusses the evolution of the Iranian state under the Islamic Republic). What the book does present is a new analytical framework for the study of political institutions and the broader process of state-building in Iran in particular and in other developing countries in general. Using Iran as a case study, the book examines the dynamics involved in the different stages of a developing country's political evolution. More specifically, it explore the underlying reasons that have caused Iranian politics to acquire its dominant features.

I cannot help but to feel grateful to John Dunn who first brought this question to my attention by asking, what was it about Iranian politics that made Iran so readily receptive to dictatorial systems? While his question at first seemed self-explanatory, I soon realized that neither I nor any of the available literature on Iran had adequately raised and answered his important point. My answer, though late by a few years, is in chapters four and five. The bulk of the research for the section on "factionalism" in chapter four was conducted when I was a resident consultant at the Rand Corporation. I worked under the supervision of Nikola Schahgaldian and greatly benefited from his insight and analytical acumen. I am also grateful to Peter Avery, my former academic supervisor at King's College, Cambridge, for teaching me much of what I know about Iran. His deep understanding of Iranian history and culture, coupled with his . . .

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