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Title: Disenchanting political theology in post-revolutionary Iran : reform, religious intellectualism and the death of utopia
Author: Sadeghi-Boroujerdi, Eskandar
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis delineates the transformation of Iran’s so-called post-revolutionary ‘religious intellectuals’ (rowshanfekran-e dini) from ideological legitimators within the political class of the newly-established theocratic-populist regime to internal critics whose revised vision for the politico-religious order coalesced and converged with the growing disillusionment and frustration of the ‘Islamic left’, a constellation of political forces within the governing elite of the Islamic Republic, that following the death of Ayatollah Khomeini increasingly felt itself marginalised and on the outskirts of power. The historical evolution of this complex, quasi-institutionalised and routinized network, encompassing theologians, jurists, political strategists and journalists, which rose to prominence in the course of the 1990s, and its critical engagement with the ruling political theology of the ‘guardianship of the jurist’, the supremacy of Islamic jurisprudence, political Islamism and all forms of ‘revolutionary’ and ‘utopian’ political and social transformation, are scrutinised in detail. In this vein, the thesis examines the various issues provoked by the rowshanfekran-e dini’s strategic deployment and translation of the concepts and ideas of a number of Western thinkers, several of which played a pivotal role in the assault on the ideological foundations of Soviet-style communism in the 1950s and 1960s. It then moves to show how this network of intellectuals and politicos following the election of Mohammad Khatami to the presidency in May 1997 sought to disseminate their ideas at the popular level by means of the press and numerous party and political periodicals, and thereby achieve ideological and political hegemony. The thesis proceeds to demonstrate the intimate connection between the project of ‘religious intellectualism’ and elite-defined notions of ‘democracy’, ‘electoral participation’, ‘reform’ and ‘political development’ as part of an effort to accumulate symbolic capital and assert their intellectual and moral leadership of the polity.
Supervisor: Homa, Katouzian Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Middle East ; Intellectual History ; Persian ; Islam ; Modern theology ; Political ideologies ; Iran ; post-revolutionary Iran ; post-revolutionary Iranian intellectual history ; religious intellectuals ; 'Abdolkarim Sorush ; Mohammad Mojtahed-Shabestari ; Sa'id Hajjarian ; post-revolutionary Iranian reformist politics ; political theology ; Mostafa Malekian ; Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini ; Islamic Republic of Iran ; Ali Shari'ati ; Fada'ian-e Islam ; Navvab Safavi ; constitutionalism in modern Iran ; Usulism ; Shi'ism ; Shi'i legalism ; Shi'i clergy ; Islamic modernist critiques of nomocracy ; Islamic ideology ; political Islam ; elite factionalism and competition in post-revolutionary Iran ; history of post-revolutionary Iranian reformists