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In this unprecedented book, Hamid Dabashi provides a provocative account of Iran in its current resurrection as a mighty regional power. Through a careful study of contemporary Iranian history in its political, literary, and artistic dimensions, Dabashi decouples the idea of Iran from its colonial linkage to the cliché notion of “the nation-state,” and then demonstrates how an “aesthetic intuition of transcendence” has enabled it to be re-conceived as a powerful nation. This rebirth has allowed for repressed political and cultural forces to surface, redefining the nation’s future beyond its fictive postcolonial borders and autonomous from the state apparatus that wishes but fails to rule it. Iran’s sovereignty, Dabashi argues, is inaugurated through an active and open-ended self-awareness of the nation’s history and recent political and aesthetic instantiations, as it has been sustained by successive waves of revolutionary prose, poetry, and visual and performing arts performed categorically against the censorial will of the state.
“Anyone wishing to understand what progressive Iranian intellectuals are now thinking about the traumatic developments in their country will want to read this book. Passionately written, displaying a strong familiarity with Iranian history, literature and art, as well as with postmodern and postcolonial critique, this book should find a wide readership.” (Talal Asad, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, The Graduate Center, CUNY, USA)
“Hamid Dabashi does what no author writing about Iran can do–he weaves together the deeply intimate and personal with an encyclopedic knowledge in order to upend ossified convention–and he makes it all sing with his renowned wit. Like a poet, Dabashi illuminates the mundanities around him to chart how and why the Iranian nation (or any national culture) can transcend its false union with the state.” (Ramin Bahrani, Writer, Director of “99 Homes”, and Assistant Professor of Film, Columbia University, USA)
“’What time is it?’ Hamid Dabashi asks in this profoundly original and daring mediation on our contemporary condition. His provocative answer: time to break free from obsolete, Western-devised constructs said to define history’s trajectory. The opportunity to discard those shackles in favor of what Dabashi calls “an emerging cosmopolitan world” presents itself. To appreciate that opportunity one need no look no further than the developments that are even now reshaping Iran.” (Andrew J. Bacevich, Professor Emeritus of International Relations and History, Boston University, USA, and author of “America’s War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History”)
“Hamid Dabashi seeks to understand Iran’s turbulent recent history rather than simply surveying it. With the depth of a true scholar, he places events in their broad cultural, political and philosophical contexts. His breadth of knowledge makes this a uniquely insightful reflection on Iran’s past, present, and future.” (Stephen Kinzer, Senior Fellow, Watson Institute for International Studies, Brown University, USA, and author of “All the Shah’s Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror”)