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Occidentalism and Historiography in Modern Iran: Fereydun Adamiyat, One of Twentieth-Century Iran's Foremost Historians, and His Assessment of the Rise of National Socialism in Germany and the Fall of the Weimar Republic

Abstract : Inverting the gaze initially adopted by scholars of Iran that had been inspired by Said’s Orientalism thesis, a line of academic enquiry that one might call Iranian Occidentalism, i.e. the study of Iranian perceptions, or perhaps better, (re)constructions, of the West, has been gathering considerable momentum in the last decade or so. However, while work has been done on several different facets of this Iranian Occidentalism – e.g. on its manifestations in travelogues, in poetry and prose literature, in the arts, or in academic philosophy – no attention has so far been paid by scholars to the question of how, if at all, Iranian historians have studied the history of the Occident in their academic writings. This essay addresses this desideratum and breaks new ground by analysing the rare instance of one of 20th-century Iran’s most venerated historians – the ‘father of Modern Iranian history’, Fereydun Adamiyat (1920-2008) – writing on a completely non-Iran related, major topic within Modern European history, namely the rise of National-Socialism in Germany and the fall of the Weimar Republic. This analysis starts by explaining Adamiyat’s account of the destruction of Germany’s democracy in the 1930s in its unexpected context – a book on Social-Democratic thought in Iran at the time of the Constitutional Revolution (1906-1911) published in Tehran for the first time in 1975. It then proceeds to assessing Adamiyat’s account of the triumph of National Socialism in 1930s Germany in terms of its merits as a contribution to scholarship before enquiring into the potential of a present-day political agenda on the part of Adamiyat in having chosen to write on this specific topic at the specific time that he did, namely during the mid-1970s, i.e. at a time when Iran seemed to have reached a level of stability and (sudden) wealth that could not have been more different from the troubled final years of the Weimar Republic. In so doing this essay does not only open up an entirely new chapter in the study of Iranian Occidentalism but also makes an original contribution to another burgeoning field, namely the study of the development of history as an academic discipline and as a politically contested body of knowledge in 20th-century Iran.
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Oliver Bast. Occidentalism and Historiography in Modern Iran: Fereydun Adamiyat, One of Twentieth-Century Iran's Foremost Historians, and His Assessment of the Rise of National Socialism in Germany and the Fall of the Weimar Republic. Iran : journal of the British Institute of Persian Studies, British Institute of Persian Studies, 2016, 54 (1), pp.73-98. ⟨10.1080/05786967.2016.11882302⟩. ⟨halshs-01487151⟩

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