By Ervand Abrahamian
In a reappraisal of Iran's smooth heritage, Ervand Abrahamian lines its worrying trip around the 20th century, during the discovery of oil, imperial interventions, the guideline of the Pahlavis and, in 1979, revolution and the delivery of the Islamic Republic. within the intervening years, the rustic has skilled a sour battle with Iraq, the transformation of society below the clergy and, extra lately, the growth of the kingdom and the fight for energy among the previous elites, the intelligentsia and the economic center category. the writer is a compassionate expositor. whereas he adroitly negotiates the twists and turns of the country's neighborhood and foreign politics, on the center of his publication are the folks of Iran. it's to them and their resilience that this publication is devoted, as Iran emerges in the beginning of the twenty-first century as essentially the most strong states within the center East.
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Extra info for A History of Modern Iran
Another important caveat is that state nationalism goes beyond religious symbols: it is an amalgam of diverse symbols, ideologies and histories often focussing on areas of overlap. State nationalism tends to be broad and vague; with regards to religious identity it will stress essence rather than detail and will avoid strong identification with a particular school of thought. If the state were to openly adopt a sectarian identity it would be openly excluding a significant proportion of Iraqis—hence perhaps the mantra of ecumenical harmony in Iraqi state discourse on sectarian identity.
Those who subscribe to membership of a sect or a faith will inevitably have to engage in acts of physical and verbal enunciations that validate and assert that identity—in the religious context this may arise out of divinely ordained obligations. This makes the desire of successive Iraqi regimes to ignore 28 APPROACHING A THEORY OF SECTARIANISM the sectarian divide especially problematic as these are identities that are difficult to conceal. Without an acceptance of their existence and without accepting and allowing for the assertion of these identities (in ritual for example) sectarian antagonism becomes all but inevitable.
These stereotypes are often grounded in history and survive from generation to generation. To put it in terms of sectarian relations, when sectar 19 Sectarianism in Iraq ian identity is subsumed under an overarching national or religious identity these hostile myths lie dormant but remain ever ready to be reawakened and revised to suit the needs of a future crisis. 44 This is especially pertinent to the Sunni-Shi’a divide as it is a divide fought less on theology as on history and historiography.