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Both Eastern and Western
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Book description

Since the Iranian Revolution of 1979, many Western observers of Iran have seen the country caught between Eastern history and 'Western' modernity, between religion and secularity. As a result, analysis of political philosophy preceding the Revolution has become subsumed by this narrative. Here, Afshin Matin-Asgari proposes a revisionist work of intellectual history, challenging many of the dominant paradigms in Iranian and Middle Eastern historiography and offering a new narration. In charting the intellectual construction of Iranian modernity during the twentieth century, Matin-Asgari focuses on broad patterns of influential ideas and their relation to each other. These intellectual trends are studied in a global historical context, leading to the assertion that Iranian modernity has been sustained by at least a century of intense intellectual interaction with global ideologies. Turning many prevailing narratives on their heads, the author concludes that modern Iran can be seen as, culturally and intellectually, both Eastern and Western.


‘This unique book registers the many sources of influence, hitherto overlooked by the researchers in the field, that have shaped up modern Iran. Afshin Matin-asgari offers a meticulous and compelling account of the cosmopolitan character of modern Iranian intellectual, social, cultural, and political thought. A superb and authoritative reference for scholars and public alike.'

Peyman Vahabzadeh - University of Victoria

‘Afshin Matin-Asgari has written a highly succinct, readable, and perceptive work on the major issue confronting intellectuals in Iran from the late nineteenth century up to the 1979 revolution: the issue of how to discuss, confront, and deal with the intellectual challenge coming from the West. This is also an important contribution to our understanding of the eventual downfall of the Shah.'

Ervand Abrahamian - City University of New York

‘By focusing on the influence of the Ottoman and Russian models on Iranian intellectual thought, Both Eastern and Western offers an original and thought-provoking account of Iran's road toward ‘modernity' in the twentieth century.'

Rudi Matthee - University of Delaware

‘Afshin Matin-Asgari's Both Eastern and Western: An Intellectual History of Iranian Modernity is a master stroke - resonating with earlier groundworks that had prepared the stage for this bravura delivery. He restages the central significance of the adventure of ideas in the making of nations at a time when state-centered political history is dimming the wit of much contemporary historiography. Deeply informed, politically committed, morally imaginative, Matin-Asgari's own book is a towering achievement of the intellectual history he chronicles with impeccable precision.'

Hamid Dabashi - Columbia University, New York

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