Iranian nationalism and the question of race

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

3 Citations (Scopus)


This chapter argues that the narrative of Aryanism, as a racial construct of superiority, while undoubtedly popular in sections of society, was neither widely supported by the leading ideologues of Iranian nationalism, nor left unchallenged. The critique of Enlightenment 'rationality' accompanied the emergence of Enlightenment ideas to dominance in European intellectual culture through the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The fashion for the designation 'Aryan' reflected trends in linguistics that had emerged in Europe and that had subsequently shifted to denote a language group, peoples, common descent and ultimately race. The newspaper Iranshahr (1922-1927), the successor paper to the immensely influential Kaveh (1916-1922), has traditionally been viewed as among the most powerful advocates for a rigorous nationalism bordering on an assumption of racial superiority. Mahmoud Afshar, a leading intellectual and editor of the highly influential journal Ayandeh produced a particularly revealing essay in 1927, "The Problems of Nationhood and the National Unity of Iran".
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationConstructing nationalism in Iran
Subtitle of host publicationFrom the Qajars to the Islamic Republic
EditorsMeir Litvak
Place of PublicationAbingdon, Oxon
PublisherRoutledge Taylor & Francis Group
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781315448800
ISBN (Print)9781138213227
Publication statusPublished - 24 Apr 2017

Publication series

NameRoutledge studies in modern history


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