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Iran's “Self-Deprecating Modernity”: Toward Decolonizing Collective Self-Critique

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 May 2021

Mostafa Abedinifard
Department of Asian Studies, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada


Extant studies of Iranian nationalism accentuate the self-aggrandizing side of Iranian modernity, mainly achieved through, and informing, a process of otherizing certain non-Persians/Iranians, particularly the Arabs. I argue that equally important to understanding Iranian modernity is its lesser recognized, shameful and self-demeaning face, as manifested through a simultaneous 19th-century discourse, which I call “self-deprecating modernity.” This was an often self-ridiculing and shame-inducing, sometimes satirical, discourse featuring an emotion-driven and self-Orientalizing framework that developed out of many mid-nineteenth-century Iranian modernists’ obsessions with Europe's gaze; with self-surveillance; and with the perceived humiliation of Iranians through the ridiculing laughter of Other (especially European) nations at Iran's and Iranians’ expense. To explore this discourse, I re-examine the works of three pre-constitutionalist thinkers and writers within the broader sociopolitical context of late Qajar Iran, surveying their perspectives on shame, embarrassment, and ridiculing laughter, and showing how they were significantly informed by, while also helping to form, self-deprecating modernity. Given the strong, self-colonizing presumptions of this discourse, I conclude the article with a stress on the importance of re-exploring collective self-critical practices in modern Iranian history, culture, and literature with an eye toward decolonizing self-criticism.

Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press

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1 Chehabi, Houchang E., “Staging the Emperor's New Clothes: Dress Codes and Nation-Building under Reza Shah,” Iranian Studies 26, no. 3–4 (1993): 225–26CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Katouzian, Homa, State and Society in Iran: The Eclipse of the Qajars and the Emergence of the Pahlavis (London: I. B. Tauris, 2006), 336Google Scholar.

2 Chehabi, “Staging,” 225.

3 On self-colonization, see Alexander Kiossev, “The Self-Colonizing Metaphor,” Atlas of Transformation, accessed 22 October 2017, On self-Orientalism, with special attention to modern Iranian history, see Reza Zia-Ebrahimi, The Emergence of Iranian Nationalism: Race and the Politics of Dislocation (New York: Columbia University Press, 2016). According to what he calls dislocative nationalism, Zia-Ebrahimi shows that Arabs have become implacable others in modern Iran.

4 See Mangol Bayat-Phillipp, “Mirza Aqa Khan Kirmani: A Nineteenth-Century Persian Nationalist,” in Towards a Modern Iran: Studies in Thought, Politics and Society, ed. Elie Kedourie and Sylvia G. Haim (London: Frank Cass, 1980), 64–95.

5 See Mohamad Tavakoli-Targhi, Refashioning Iran: Orientalism, Occidentalism and Historiography (New York: Palgrave, 2001); Zia-Ebrahimi, Emergence.

6 See Iraj Parsinejad, Ruwshangaran-i Irani va Naqd-i Adabi (Tehran: Sukhan, 2000).

7 See, for example, Kashani-Sabet, Firoozeh, “Hallmarks of Humanism: Hygiene and Love of Homeland in Qajar Iran,” American Historical Review 105, no. 4 (2000): 1171–203CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed; Javad Tabatabaee, Dibachih-i bar Nazariyih-yi Inhitat-i Iran (Nigah-i Muʿasir: 2001); Farzin Vahdat, God and Juggernaut: Iran's Intellectual Encounter with Modernity (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2002); Mashallah Ajudani, Mashrutih-yi Irani (Tehran: Akhtaran, 2003); Homa Katouzian, The Persians: Ancient, Medieval, and Modern Iran (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2009), 141. Tabatabaee believes such formative defeats began with the Battle of Chaldiran during the Safavids (Dibachih, 27, 32).

8 Kashani-Sabet, “Hallmarks,” 1189.

9 Vahdat, God and Juggernaut, 27. As Ali Gheissari reminds us, Iranians’ defeats also engendered xenophobia. See Ali Gheissari, Iranian Intellectuals in the Twentieth Century (Austin, TX: University of Texas Press), 23. Although beyond the scope of this article, an alleged continued Iranian ambivalence toward the West ever since merits further research, as an attempt to delineate the social psychology of Iranians.

10 Zia-Ebrahimi, Emergence, 19.

11 Vahdat, God and Juggernaut, 27.

12 See Kashani-Sabet, Firoozeh, “Fragile Frontiers: The Diminishing Domains of Qajar Iran,” International Journal of Middle East Studies 29, no. 2 (1997): 211–13CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Mohammad Taheri Khosruvshahi, Fasl-ha-yi Tariki: Jang-ha-yi Rus ba Iran dar Shiʿr-i Farsi (Tehran: Tamaddun-i Irani, 2009). “During the past two centuries,” Khosruvshahi remarks, “the bitter memory of losing parts of Iran Zamin [Iran-Land] has created some shared regret and despair in the collective consciousness of the Iranian nation” (11). In the preface to Khosruvshahi's book, Jamshid Alizadeh writes, “This book concerns one of the ghastliest tragedies in the history of our oppressed homeland, that is, Tsarist Russia's assault on Iran and the subsequent severing of seventeen Caucasian towns from the body of our motherland. This calamity contains such broad dimensions that even after two centuries its memory still distresses true Iranians’ hearts and causes them to shed sorrowful tears” (13). In Persian language historiographies, the Gulistan and Turkamanchay treaties are often described using the adjective shameful or disgraceful (nangīn).

13 Katouzian, Persians, 145.

14 See Kashani-Sabet, “Fragile Frontiers,” 210; Abbas Amanat, Iran: A Modern History (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2017), 214.

15 Katouzian, Persians, 141; Zia-Ebrahimi, Emergence, 24.

16 Quoted in Zia-Ebrahimi, Emergence, 23. Similar questions directed at Iran's mishaps were provoked as late as 1906 in the Persian media. See, for example, Kashani-Sabet, “Hallmarks,” 1188–89, for a “patriot” journalist's similar self-deprecating questions.

17 Kashani-Sabet, “Hallmarks,” 1174.

18 Ibid.


19 Ibid., 1175. The low self-esteem of Iranians vis-à-vis Europe also was manifested more symbolically. For instance, the prolific mid-to-late Qajar-era author Muhammad Hasan Khan Iʿtimad al-Saltana, despite his linguistic purification program that entailed replacing Arabic and Turkish words with Persian ones, insisted on using European words: “He considered it a sign of erudition, not a mark of mediocrity, to lace his narrative with French or English expressions” (Kashani-Sabet, “Fragile Frontiers,” 224). On purifying Persian of “alien” languages, especially Arabic, during the above era, see also Gheissari, Iranian Intellectuals, 23–24.


20 Kashani-Sabet, “Hallmarks,” 1176.

21 To cope with their distress, Iranian modernists otherized the Arabs, holding their 7th-century conquest of Iran accountable for Iran's difficulties. Thus, a lost, glorious pre-Islamic past for Iran also was invented. See Kashani-Sabet, “Hallmarks” and Tavakoli-Targhi, Refashioning Iran. For an insightful exploration of the combined role of geography (particularly through cartography), archaeology, philology, historiography, and medicine in this “cultural revival,” see Kashani-Sabet, “Fragile Frontiers.”

22 See Tavakoli-Targhi, Refashioning Iran; Afsaneh Najmabadi, Women with Mustaches and Men without Beards: Gender and Sexual Anxieties of Iranian Modernity (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2005).

23 Mirza Fattah Khan Garmrudi, Safarnamih (Tehran: Bank-i Bazargani, 1968), 962. The quote above is Garmrudi's paraphrase of Fraser. Garmrudi does not cite his particular source. However, most of the numerous lengthy books of fiction and travel that Fraser wrote had a Persian background, and it is known that Fraser “strongly criticize[d] the character of the Persians, blaming it on their despotic and ‘hated’ Qajar rulers” (Denis Wright, “Fraser, James Baillie,” Encyclopaedia Iranica, accessed 21 February 2021, An amrad is a young male adolescent who is an object of desire of adult men.

24 Najmabadi, Women with Mustaches, 37.

25 Katouzian, Persians, 155.

26 Ziyn al-Abidin Maraqih-i, Siyahatnamih-yi Ibrahim Biyg (Mumbai: Sipihr Matbaʿ Muzaffari), 2–3.

27 Ibid. For more instances of self-deprecating modernity in Siahatnamih-yi Ibrahim Biyg, see 237, 238, and 239. For similar humiliating comparisons between Iran and Europe by Iranian travelogue writers, see Tavakoli-Targhi, Refashioning Iran. For an account of the vital role of land and geography in the shaping of the modern concept of homeland (vaṭan) as well as the ongoing process of nation formation and Iranian self-definition during the Qajar era, see Firoozeh Kashani-Sabet, Frontier Fictions: Shaping the Iranian Nation, 18041946 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2014).


28 Abd ul-Rahim Talibuf, Masalik al-Muhsinin (Tehran: Sherkat-e Sahami, 1968), 11, 198–99.

29 For Qa'em Maqam Farahani's similar reaction to the Russo-Persian wars, see Zia-Ebrahimi, Emergence, 23–24.

30 Quoted in Fereydun Adamiyat, Andishih-ha-yi Talibuf-i Tabrizi (Tehran: Damavand, 1984), 8.

31 Sayyid Jamal al-Din Vaʿiz Isfahani, “Editorial,” Niday-i Vatan, 21 July 1909, 1.

32 See “Maktub az Tabriz,” Habl ul-Matin, 9 October 1905, 15.

33 Sur-i Israfil, 19 September 1907, 5.

34 See “Iftitah-i Majlis va Jaryan-i Intikhabat,” Jarchi-yi Millat, 27 August 1915, 2.

35 Kashani-Sabet, “Hallmarks,” 1190, 1193. See also Tavakoli-Targhi, Refashioning Iran; and Kia, Mehrdad, “Persian Nationalism and the Campaign for Language Purification,” Middle Eastern Studies 34, no. 2 (1998): 9CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

36 “Mas'uliyyat-i Qalam,” Sur-i Israfil, 30 May 1907, 4.

37 Ibid., 2.


38 “Harf-i Guftani,” Sur-i Israfil, 30 May 1907, 8.

39 Self-critique was not only welcomed and promoted but deemed necessary, even prioritized over other, less critical or pragmatic, forms of discourse. See, for example, “Dar Qism-i Adabi” (On the Literary Genre), Habl ul-Matin, 4 September 1905, 8–9.

40 By virtue of his Tamsilat, Akhundzadeh is considered the first playwright “of the Islamic world” (H. Algar, “Akundzada,” Encyclopaedia Iranica, accessed 24 December 2019,, whereas Tabrizi is considered the writer of “the first plays written in Persian roughly along Western lines” (Hasan Javadi and Farrokh Gaffary, “Aqa Tabrizi,” Encyclopaedia Iranica, accessed 30 December 2019,

41 As I will show, this misattribution apparently was based on Malkum's allegiance to self-deprecating modernity.

42 Pardis Minuchehr, “Homeland from Afar: The Iranian Diaspora and the Quest for Modernity (1908–1909); The Constitutional Movement within a Global Perspective” (PhD diss., Columbia University, 1998), 3. Prior to and during the constitutional years, numerous Iranian diasporic authors also collaborated with satirical journals outside Iran, for example in Turkey and the Caucasus. Moreover, Iran-based magazines were influenced by the regional papers. Both the contents and the illustrations of the Baku-based Mulla Nasriddin inspired Iranian writers and illustrators (Hamed Kazemzadeh, “The Role of the Caucasian Satirical Magazines in the Iranian Constitutional Era,” paper presented at the International Society for Humor Studies Conference, Montreal, 10–14 July 2017). For the influence of Western satirical magazines, especially German satirical writing and illustration, on Mulla Nasriddin, see Christiane Bulut, “Printing in the Peripheries,” in Press and Mass Communication in the Middle East, ed. Börte Sagaster, Theoharis Stavrides, and Birgitt Hoffmann (Bamberg, Germany: University of Bamberg Press, 2017), 337–66.

43 Brummett, Palmira, “Dogs, Women, Cholera, and Other Menaces in the Streets: Cartoon Satire in the Ottoman Revolutionary Press, 1908–11,” International Journal of Middle East Studies 27, no. 4 (1995): 435CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

44 Ibid., 438. Although Brummett focuses on the self-aggrandizing side of satire in Turkey, as manifested in Turkish nationalist and anti-colonial satire, some of the cartoons she uses as examples of the “imminent threat of European imperialism” simultaneously depict self-deprecating modernity. A clear example is Brummett's Figure 1, which portrays a cartoon titled “Ttirkiye, Fifty Years Later” (438–39).


45 Hamid Algar, Mirza Malkum Khan: A Biographical Study in Iranian Modernism (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1973), x; Ajudani, Mashrutih-yi Irani, 281.

46 Mirza Malkum Khan, “Intizam-i Lashgar va Majlis-i Tanzimat,” in Majmuʿih Asar-i Mirza Malkum Khan, ed. Muhammad Muhit Tabatabai (Tehran: ʿIlmi, 1948), 98.

47 Khan, Prince Malcom, “Persian Civilization,” Contemporary Review 59 (1891): 238–44Google Scholar.

48 Ibid., 242.


49 Goffman, Erving, “On Face-Work: An Analysis of Ritual Elements in Social Interaction,” Psychiatry 18, no. 3 (1955): 213–3CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed1.

50 Malcom Khan, “Persian Civilization,” 238, 242–43.

51 Ali Asghar Haqdar, Namih-ha-yi Mirza Malkum Khan Nazim al-Duwlih (Tehran: Chishmih, 2010), 32–33.

52 See, for example, Malkum Khan, “Dastgah-i Divan,” in Majmuʿih Asar, 69, 74.

53 Hassan Mirabedini, Tarikh-i Adabiyat-i Dastani-yi Iran (Tehran: Sukhan, 2013), 104.

54 Malkum Khan, “Rafiq va Vazir,” in Majmuʿih Asar, 69. Ghurabā is the plural of gharīb (stranger; foreigner), yet owing to its frequency in Malkum Khan's works, it also appears as his coinage for the plural of gharbī (Westerner). (I owe this point to Mehdi Jami.)

55 Ibid., 71.


56 For the first installment, see Mirza Malkum Khan, “Rikhtih-yi Qalam-i Yiki az Vuzara-yi Ba-danish-i Iran,” Habl ul-Matin, 25 September 1905, 17–18. The publication of Malkum's piece in Habl ul-Matin, a periodical released for a long time only in India, might have been due to the limits on freedom of expression in Iran.

57 Negin Nabavi, Modern Iran: A History in Documents (Princeton, NJ: Markus Wiener, 2016), 20.

58 See Malkum Khan, “Rikhtih-yi Qalam,” 17–18.

59 Habl ul-Matin, 2 October 1905, 10.

60 Ibid, 11.


61 Ironically, Malkum's call for anti-colonialism, by nudging his fellow Iranian officials in an Indian newspaper published out of the headquarters of the raj, becomes possible only through the colonial matrix of power that grants him the venue to write in India.

62 Malkum Khan, “Rafiq va Vazir,” in Majmuʿih Asar, 56; “Dastgah-i Divan,” in Majmuʿih Asar, 87, 92, 95; “Intizam-i Lashgar,” in Majmuʿih Asar, 105. For the comparative framework of satire and shame, see Ruben Quintero, “Introduction: Understanding Satire,” in A Companion to Satire, ed. Ruben Quintero (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2007); Stephen Pattison, Shame: Theory, Therapy, Theology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000); Thomas J. Scheff, “Shame in Self and Society,” Symbolic Interaction 26, no. 2 (2003): 239–62; Gershen Kaufman, The Psychology of Shame: Theory and Treatment of Shame-Based Syndromes (New York: Springer, 2004). I acknowledge the uncertainty of humor in the examples of Malkum's work discussed below. This vagueness is compatible with Michael Billig's caveat for defining "humor." According to him, humor had better not be defined based on its desired reception: “[H]umour cannot be defined purely as that which elicits the response of laughter. Humour might involve the attempt to produce laughter in its recipients but it must be recognizable as humour even if it fails in its end” (Michael Billig, Laughter and Ridicule: Towards a Social Critique of Humour [London: Sage, 2005], 179).

63 Shiva Balaghi, “Constitutionalism and Islamic Law in Nineteenth-Century Iran: Mirza Malkum Khan and Qanun,” in Human Rights and Modesty: The Problem of Universalism, ed. András Sajó (Leiden: Koninklijke Brill NV, 2004), 332.

64 Ibid., 334.


65 Quoted in Ibid., 335.

66 Qanun, nos. 3 and 12; no. 4; no. 24; nos. 10, 11, 13, and 15. Whether Malkum actually charged subcribers for these particular issues remains a question.

67 Qanun, no. 1: 3.

68 Qanun, no. 2: 4.

69 For Zakani's “Definitions,” also known as “Ten Chapters,” see Hasan Javadi, trans., ‘Obeyed-e Zakani: The Ethics of the Aristocrats and Other Satirical Works (Piedmont, CA: Jahan Books Co., 1985)..

70 Qanun, no. 3: 1–2. Translation in Tavakoli-Targhi, Refashioning Iran, 136. On how part of Malkum's diatribe was informed by a post-epidemic discourse in Iran (and elsewhere), combining hygiene and humanism during the second half of the 19th century, see Kashani-Sabet, “Hallmarks.”

71 Balaghi, “Constitutionalism,” 333.

72 Qanun, no. 8: 3. On the essential importance of the discourse of humanism (ādamiyyat, insāniyyat) during the last years of the Qajar era, see Kashani-Sabet, “Hallmarks,” 1175.

73 “The Power behind the Persian Throne: The True Story of the Shah and Prince Malcom Khan,” Times of India, 14 April 1890, 7.

74 Intriguingly, some satirists also have been mistaken for Malkum. His Nawm va Yaqzih (Slumber and Awakening) was misattributed to Ziyn al-ʿAbidin Maraqih-i, the author of The Travel Diary of Ebrahim Beg.

75 Algar, Mirza Malkum Khan, 264–65.

76 Mirabedini, Tarikh-i Adabiyat, 104. As Adamiyat mentions, the influence was mutual; see Fereydun Adamiyat, Andishih-ha-yi Mirza Fath-Ali Akhundzadih (Tehran: Kharazmi, 1970), 20.

77 Akhundzadeh “advocated first a reform of Arabic script and then a total substitution of the Arabic alphabet with Latin script” (Kia, “Persian Nationalism,” 13).

78 Hamid Mohammadzadeh and Hamid Arasli, eds., Mirza Fath-ʿAli Akhunduf: Alifba-yi Jadid va Maktubat (Baku: Nizami, 1963), 141–43.

79 Ibid., 143.


80 Ibid., 86–87.


81 For a reference to Akhundzadeh's conspicuous sense of humor, see Adamiyat, Andishih-ha, 20.

82 He also was well read in many Enlightenment thinkers (Mehrdad Kia, “Mirza Fath Ali Akhundzade and the Call for Modernization of the Islamic World,” Middle Eastern Studies 31, no. 3 (1995): 427).

83 Mohammadzadeh and Arasli, Alifba-yi Jadid, 249; see also Adamiyat, Andishih-ha, 9, 22. On Akhundzadeh and nationalism, see Zia-Ebrahimi, Emergence.

84 Kia, “Mirza Fath Ali Akhundzade,” 429.

85 Ibid., 428, 432.


86 Ibid., 432.


87 See Shiva Balaghi, “The Iranian as Spectator and Spectacle: Theater and Nationalism in the Nineteenth Century,” in Social Constructions of Nationalism in the Middle East, ed. Fatma Müge Göçek (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2002), 193–215.

88 See Mohammadzadeh and Arasli, Alifba-yi Jadid, 204–10.

89 Ibid., 205–6.


90 Ibid., 206.


91 Ibid., 209.


92 Ibid., 207.


93 Ibid., 206.


94 Homa Katouzian has said, “I doubt if Akhundzadeh had even heard of Obeyd, since he did not have a command over Persian literature and only discussed some of their [Iranians’] well-known numbers.” Personal e-mail correspondence, 23 November 2017.

95 Mohammadzadeh and Arasli, Alifba-yi Jadid, 210. Contrasting his Maktubat with Mulla Mohammad Rafiʿ the Preacher's Abvab al-Jinan (Doors to Paradise), Akhundzadeh deems the latter “tasteless, unlikable, and unamusing” (bī-shūr, bī-namak, va bī-lizzat) while believing the former would immediately engage readers, encouraging them to avoid what the book reproaches and adopt what it endorses (Ibid., 206–7).

96 Mohammadzadeh and Arasli, Alifba-yi Jadid, 207–8.

97 Ibid., 207.


98 Ibid., 74.


99 Ibid., 208.


100 Edward G. Browne, A Literary History of Persia, vol. 4, Modern Times (15001924) (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1959), 463.

101 See H. Sedigh, “Preface,” in Mirza Aqa Tabrizi, Namayishnamih-ha-yi Mirza Aqa Tabrizi (Tehran: Tahuri, 1354/1975), xvi.

102 Browne, Literary History, 463.

103 Tabrizi, Namayishnamih-ha, 149–63; Algar, Mirza Malkum Khan, 269.

104 Ibid., 151.


105 Ibid., 162. Akhundzadeh mentions Gulistan and Zinat al-Majalis (1596) as emblematic texts of advice literature.


106 Tabrizi, Namayishnamih-ha, 218.

107 Ibid., 216.


108 Ibid., 218.


109 Ibid., 219.


110 Ibid., 220.


111 Lasting for several decades, the misattribution of Tabrizi's comedies to Malkum clearly demonstrates, as Algar notes, “the extent of [Malkum's] renown as a skilled and versatile writer of sociocritical literature” (Mirza Malkum Khan, 277). However, it also indicates that Malkum was too well known for the satirical tone and idiom in his writings to arouse any doubts among the audiences of the comic plays of (who now we know to be) Tabrizi. See Parsinejad, Ruwshangaran-i Irani, 165–179.

112 Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks, trans. Charles Lam Markman (London, UK: Pluto Press, 1986), 30.

113 Following Mignolo and Walsh, I acknowledge that “the conceptualizations and actionings of decoloniality are . . . multiple, contextual, and relational; they are not only the purview of peoples who have lived the colonial difference but, more broadly, of all of us who struggle from and within modernity/coloniality's borders and cracks, to build a radically distinct world.” See Walter D. Mignolo and Catherine E. Walsh, On Decoloniality: Concepts, Analytics, Praxis (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2018), 4–5.

114 See, for example, David Motadel, “Iran and the Aryan Myth,” in Perceptions of Iran: History, Myths and Nationalism from Medieval Persia to the Islamic Republic, ed. Ali Ansari (London, UK: I. B. Tauris, 2014), 119–45.

115 See Mehrzad Boroujerdi, Iranian Intellectuals and the West: The Tormented Triumph of Nativism (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1996).

116 Jalal Al-i Ahmad, Occidentosis: A Plague from the West, trans. R. Campbell (Berkeley, CA: Mizan Press, 1984), 43.

117 Ibid., 96.


118 See Fakhriddin Shadman, Taskhir-i Tmaddun-i Farangi (Tehran: Gam-i Nuw, 2003).

119 For an informative essay on Tuwfiq, see Hasan Javadi, “Towfiq (Tawfiq) Newspaper,” Encyclopaedia Iranica, accessed 21 December 2019,

120 See, for example, Hasan Javadi, Satire in Persian Literature (Rutherford, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1988); Ghulam-Hossein Muraqibi, Nigarishi bar Ruznamih-ha-yi Fukahi-yi Iran (Tehran: Abginih, 1997), vol. 1., 5–21; Mahmud Farjami, Iranian Political Satirists: Experience and Motivation in the Contemporary Era (Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2017); and Katouzian, Homa, “An Approach to Humor in Persian Literature,” Iran Namag: A Quarterly of Iranian Studies 2, no. 4 (2018): cxxiv–clvGoogle Scholar. For overviews and critiques of “positivist” and “exculpatory” attitudes to humor, see, respectively, Billig, Laughter and Ridicule; and Simon Weaver, The Rhetoric of Racist Humour: US, UK, and Global Race Joking (Surrey, UK: Ashgate, 2011), 8–12.

121 For humor as discourse, see Sharon Lockyer and Michael Pickering, Beyond a Joke: The Limits of Humour (Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005).

122 See Abedinifard, Mostafa, “Structural Functions of the Targeted Joke: Iranian Modernity and the Qazvini Man as Predatory Homosexual,” HUMOR: International Journal of Humor Research 29, no. 3 (2016): 337–57CrossRefGoogle Scholar; and Abedinifard, Mostafa, “Persian ‘Rashti Jokes’: Modern Iran's Palimpsests of Gheyrat-Based Masculinity,” British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies 46, no. 4 (2019): 564–82CrossRefGoogle Scholar. Rashti jokes comprise a Persian ethnic joke cycle in which the men and women of the northern Iranian city of Rasht are respectively labeled cuckolds and promiscuous women. Qazvini jokes are a contemporary series of Persian jokes that represent the male adults of the city of Qazvin as predatory homosexuals. Abedinifard's argument for the genesis and gendered functions of the Qazvini joke cycle fits the framework of self-deprecating modernity.

123 In Turki jokes, the Iranian Turks (Azeris) are typecast as stupid, whereas in Arab man jokes, the (Iranian) Arab-speaking males are branded as having overly large genitals, fixated on sex, and sometimes as mentally challenged. On ethnic stereotyping in contemporary Iran, see Alam Saleh, Ethnic Identity and the State in Iran (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013). On the Arab man and Turki jokes, see Palmis Seifikar, “Asses and Cuckolds: Regional Ethnic Jokes from Iran” (MA thesis, University of California, Berkeley, 2003); and Tomasz Gacek, “The Image of Arabs and the Arabic Language in Contemporary Persian Jokes,” Polish Journal of the Arts and Culture 8, no. 5 (2013): 39–60.

124 See, for example, Kia, “Mirza Fath Ali Akhundzade,” 437; and Katouzian, Persians, 155.

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