Inscribing a homeland: Iranian identity and the pre-Islamic and Islamic collective imaginations of place

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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[Truncated abstract] This thesis examines the relationship between different representations of homeland in contemporary Iran. It is inspired by the political debates in the twentieth century over the authenticity of pre-Islamic and Islamic aspects of Iranian collective identity. Firstly, it proposes a theory of constructing and collectively imagining places in Iran through analysis of the specific examples of Persepolis and the Shiite ritual of Moharram. Secondly, it theorizes the relationship between Collective Imaginations and representations of homeland in the National Museum of Iran, a museum comprising two separate collections housed in adjacent buildings – the Ancient Iran Museum (1937, pre-Islamic) and the Islamic Period Museum (1996).
The thesis demonstrates that major transformations of twentieth century Iran, transformations that so far have been considered in terms of political discourses and historical events, are ultimately concerned with constructing places, through which, in this instance, a Collective Imagination of homeland comes into being. By the same token, ideological battles become manifest in the construction of places, which are produced within a network of human identities and actions, and material and intellectual resources. Place, thus construed, is the prime, and yet often neglected, object for social and historical analyses. Through analytical examples, this thesis demonstrates that place is fluid, rather than determined by the physicality of sites; it is embedded in longstanding traditional patterns, which endow it with a semblance of continuity.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
StateUnpublished - 2010


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