Iranian Cultural Identity and the Politics of Religious Nationalism

Recorded: February 14, 2022
Event: Bilingual Lecture Series

by Ali Banuazizi (Boston College)

The lecture begins with an exploration of the various bases for Iranian “cultural identity” (Iraniyat)—including a long pre-Islamic legacy, the Persian language, Shi’ism, and the bonds and affinities among a people who have inhabited roughly the same territory for nearly three millennia. It makes a distinction between Iranian “cultural” and “national” identities and examines how the latter view of Iranian “national” identity was transformed into nationalist political ideologies from the last decades of the 19th century to the end of the Pahlavi era. It concludes with an analysis of the Islamic Republic’s sacralization of state authority and concerted efforts to promote “religious nationalism” as its official ideology.