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A Joint Virtual Book Launch: The Discovery of Iran: Taghi Arani, A Radical Cosmopolitan
December 8, 2021 @ 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm EST
Ali Mirsepassi is Albert Gallatin Research Excellence Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, New York University. He is Director, Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies and also director of Iranian Studies Initiative at NYU. Mirsepassi was a 2009-2007 Carnegie Scholar and is the co-editor, with Arshin Adib- Moghadam, of The Global Middle East, a book series published by the Cambridge University Press. He is the author of The Discovery of Iran: Taghi Arani, a Radical Cosmopolitan (Stanford University Press, Fall 2021); Iran’s Quiet Revolution: The Downfall of the Pahlavi State (October 2019, Cambridge University Press); Iran’s Troubled Modernity: Debating Ahmad Fardid’s Legacy (Cambridge University Press, 2018); Transnationalism in Iranian Political Thought: The Life and Thought of Ahmad Fardid (Cambridge University Press, 2017), co-author, with Tadd Fernee, of Islam, Democracy, and Cosmopolitanism (Cambridge University Press, 2014); is the author of Political Islam, Iran and Enlightenment (Cambridge University Press, 2011); Democracy in Modern Iran (New York University Press, 2010); Intellectual Discourses and Politics of Modernization: Negotiating Modernity in Iran (Cambridge University Press, 2000); and Truth or Democracy (published in Iran); and he is the co-editor of Localizing Knowledge in a Globalizing World (Syracuse University Press, 2002).
The Discovery of Iran examines the history of Iranian nationalism afresh through the life and work of Taghi Arani, the founder of Iran›s first Marxist journal, Donya. In his quest to imagine a future for Iran open to the scientific riches of the modern world and the historical diversity of its own people, Arani combined Marxist materialism and a cosmopolitan ethics of progress. He sought to reconcile Iran to its post-Islamic past, rejected by Persian purists and romanticized by their traditionalist counterparts, while orienting its present toward the modern West in all its complex and conflicting facets. As Ali Mirsepassi shows, Arani›s cosmopolitanism complicates the conventional wisdom that racial exclusivism was an insoluble feature of twentieth-century Iranian nationalism. In cultural spaces like Donya, Arani and his contemporaries engaged vibrant debates about national identity, history, and Iran›s place in the modern world. In exploring Arani›s short but remarkable life and writings, Ali Mirsepassi challenges the image of Interwar Iran as dominated by the Pahlavi state to uncover fertile intellectual spaces in which civic nationalism flourished.