Ali MirsepassiJul 27, 2022
The Discovery of Iran
Taghi Arani, a Radical Cosmopolitan
Stanford University Press 2021
The Discovery of Iran: Taghi Arani, a Radical Cosmopolitan (Stanford UP, 2021), opens with a fascinating passage about the 1934 decree whereby foreign delegates were instructed to refer to the country as Iran rather than Persian. In Ali Mirsepassi's view, the event closes a chapter on the long intellectual history of Iranian nationalism, which began in the often overlooked interwar era (1919-1935). Mirsepassi skillfully reconstructs the intellectual history of Iran during the interwar period by providing a holistic picture of the life and thought of Taghi Arani, a multifaceted public intellectual, a scientist, a cosmopolitan, and a Marxist. According to Mirsepassi, Arani's vision of Iran brings together cosmopolitanism with the idea of "civic nationalism" as a viable alternative to Soviet Marxism in the Global South. Arani's nuanced account of Iran as a nation has remained unacknowledged as an autocratic nationalism rises in Iran between 1934 and 1935. Yet, Arani's commitment to upholding the democratic ideals of the Constitutional Revolution (1905-1911), traceable to the Enlightenment, still has relevance today in the struggle against oppression, religious fanaticism, and cultural chauvinism.
This study contributes a great deal to the understanding of intellectual history and social movements in the Global South, where demands for democracy and independence as well as oppression have been a part of the nation-building project.
Kaveh Rafie is a PhD candidate specializing in modern and contemporary art at the University of Illinois at Chicago. His dissertation charts the course of modern art in the late Pahlavi Iran (1941-1979) and explores the extent to which the 1953 coup marks the recuperation of modern art as a viable blueprint for cultural globalization in Iran.