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Changing Identities in Iran

In: Social Issues

Submitted By ChrisP09
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An Analysis of the Changing Identities Influencing Iran’s

The multifaceted political and socio-cultural context of the Middle-East often leads to misunderstandings about the nature of its society. In order to be fully aware of the reasoning as to why states in the Middle-East do what they do, an in depth analysis linking both the past and present is necessary. The continuous disorder portrayed in the news has created a negative image of the Middle-East. In the case of Iran, this is especially true. Similarly to many other states in the Middle-East, Iran’s past can be characterized by perpetual ideological conflict, rivaling tribal factions and a difficulty in sustaining a lasting identity. In contrast, however, Iran was among several developing nations to escape direct colonialism.[1] Nevertheless, “economic domination and imperial manipulation describe Europe’s relationship with Iran for much of the century leading up to 1950.”[2] In understanding Iran’s flux of identities throughout the 20th century, several notions must be clarified. Firstly, Iran is not an Arab nation nor have they adopted Arabic language or culture. Secondly, the Shi’a minority in Iran, and their lingering divergence in beliefs compared to that of the Sunnis and the West has always been an issue with respect to their distinctiveness as a nation. That being said, Iran’s inability to sustain a lasting individuality is directly related to the differing identities proposed by Iranian leaders throughout the 20th century. In the following article, I will distinguish between the secularization and modernization proposed by Reza Shah Pahlavi; the period of ambiguity in political identity and subsequent authoritarianism adopted by his son; and the role of the Islamic revolution in revitalizing religious unity. Iran was fortunate enough to...

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