Middle East

The Process of Memory and Forgetting as The Significant Steps of Nationalism: Iran as Case Study

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By Tayfun Ustun | 01 April 2010



The subject of nation and nationalism is one of the highly controversial issues and cannot be answered by adopting a single perspective in the International Affairs. Even though in the literature of nationalism, there are various theories that focus on the origins of nation and nationalism such as ethno-symbolist, primordialist and modernist, it could be argued none of them is a grand theory; however, these theories should not be underestimated since they provide very interesting and significant evaluations in terms of origins of nations.


The terms and concepts of nation and nationalism are Eurocentric, but the idea of nationalism has spill over from the border of Europe and it still seems to be an effective ideology or movements in the different parts of the world, so it is likely to observe different paradigms of nationalism. I would like to focus on Iranian Nationalism after the Islamic Revolution in 1979 since the characteristic of revolution is quite controversial. It is possible to argue that the revolution triggered to a dormant Iranian nationalism.


Iran as a nation has deep and old state tradition and an effect to shape the Middle East through their social, economic and military powers. In addition, the state ideology (based on the twelve Imams) of Iran has area of influence on the neighbour countries which have Shiite population especially in Iraq.


Before moving on to examine our case study, it is appropriate to mention Anderson’s nationalism theory and to explain the artifact process of memory and forgetting. Anderson, the expert on South Asia, identifies nationalism as a product of modernism and it emerged haphazardly at the end of the 18th century as a result of events which did not have correlation with each other (Ozkirimli, 2000).


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