(Persia Digest) – The Cambridge University Press will be releasing a book entitled “Both Eastern and Western” in August 2018 on the intellectual history in Iran. The Press has explained the synopsis as follows:

Since the Iranian Revolution of 1979, many Western observers of Iran have seen the country caught between Eastern history and 'Western' modernity, between religion and secularity. As a result, analysis of political philosophy preceding the Revolution has become subsumed by this narrative. Here, Afshin Matin-Asgari proposes a revisionist work of intellectual history, challenging many of the dominant paradigms in Iranian and Middle Eastern historiography and offering a new narration. In charting the intellectual construction of Iranian modernity during the twentieth century, Matin-Asgari focuses on broad patterns of influential ideas and their relation to each other. These intellectual trends are studied in a global historical context, leading to the assertion that Iranian modernity has been sustained by at least a century of intense intellectual interaction with global ideologies. Turning many prevailing narratives on their heads, the author concludes that modern Iran can be seen as, culturally and intellectually, both Eastern and Western.


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Ervand Abrahamian, from City University of New York, writes about the book:

Afshin Matin-Asgari has written a highly succinct, readable, and perceptive work on the major issue confronting intellectuals in Iran from the late nineteenth century up to the 1979 revolution: the issue of how to discuss, confront, and deal with the intellectual challenge coming from the West. This is also an important contribution to our understanding of the eventual downfall of the Shah.

Hamid Dabashi, Professor at Columbia University, writes:

Afshin Matin-Asgari's Both Eastern and Western: An Intellectual History of Iranian Modernity is a master stroke - resonating with earlier groundworks that had prepared the stage for this bravura delivery. He restages the central significance of the adventure of ideas in the making of nations at a time when state-centered political history is dimming the wit of much contemporary historiography. Deeply informed, politically committed, morally imaginative, Matin-Asgari's own book is a towering achievement of the intellectual history he chronicles with impeccable precision.

Rudi Matthee, Professor at Delaware University, writes:

By focusing on the influence of the Ottoman and Russian models on Iranian intellectual thought, Both Eastern and Western offers an original and thought-provoking account of Iran's road toward 'modernity' in the twentieth century.

Persia Digest reports that the author of “Both Eastern and Western”, Afshin Matin-Asgari is Outstanding Professor of Middle East History at California State University, Los Angeles. He was born in Iran and completed his PhD in Middle East history at University of California, Los Angeles. He was active in the international movement of Iranian students during the 1970s and took part in the 1978-9 Iranian Revolution. He is the author of Iranian Student Opposition to the Shah (2002), which is translated in Persian and published in Iran, and has authored more than twenty articles and book chapters on twentieth-century Iranian political and intellectual history.

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