Theater State and the Formation of Early Modern Public Sphere in Iran

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Theater State and the Formation of Early Modern Public Sphere in Iran
Theater State and the Formation of Early Modern Public Sphere in Iran.jpg
AuthorBabak Rahimi

The book Theater-State and the Formation of Early Modern Public Sphere in Iran depicts what can be described as a study of multiple aspects of public manifestations of power and subversions that map out the early modern geography of Muslim public spheres.

About the author[edit | edit source]

Babak Rahimi, Ph.D. (2004) in cultural and historical sociology, European University Institute, is assistant Professor of Iranian and Islamic Studies at the University of California, San Diego. He has published cultural and historical studies on early modern and contemporary Iran.

About the book[edit | edit source]

This book published in BRILL (November 1, 2011), has 404 pages and best sellers rank of 9,274,367 in Books.

Rahimi in his monograph book, traces the origins of the Iranian public sphere in the early-seventeenth century Safavid Empire with a focus on the relationship between state-building, urban space and ritual culture. The book has two parts: the first part describes the current discourse of ritual studies and public sphere in contemporary academic discourses and introduces the basic conceptual framework of the following historical chapters in part two. The second part (the final four chapters excluding Chapter Seven) focus on Safavid Muharram rituals and, based on available primary sources, an attempt is made to underline the ambiguous performative processes in the course of the rituals.

Abstract of chapters[edit | edit source]

Part One[edit | edit source]

Chapter 1, The Carnivalesque Paradigm: Muharram as Transgression

This chapter focuses on the creative dimension of ritual action, which dramatically shapes public interaction in the form of communication, and tries to familiarize the reader with the theoretical ideas of ritual, especially carnivalesque processes.

Chapter 2, The Carnivalesque Public: Beyond Habermas

Continuing the discussion of the creativity in first chapter, the author considers the theoretical models of interpreting the Muharram rituals in the Safavid period as a communicative space.

Part Two[edit | edit source]

Chapter 3, The Safavids in the Transcultural Context

In Chapter Three, Rahimi draws attention towards the late middle periods of Islamicate history (907–1501). His aim is to describe the rise of the Safavids in relation to the ritual culture of the spiritual associations (futuvvat) and Sufi brotherhood movements (akhi associations) in the middle period.

Chapter 4, A History of (Safavid) Muharram Rituals

The author in this chapter deals with the history of Muharram rituals from the late 7th century to the post-Safavid period and uses the primary sources (mainly Safavid and European travel reports) to describe an alternative history of Muharram rituals.

Chapter 5, Necro-Public and the Safavid Ritual Theater State: City, Social Death, and Power 

Chapter Five Shows how the Safavid state was built based on the narrative of Karbala and the culture of mourning. Muharram as a theater of sorrow shows spaces of power in a way that government appears to be a transcendental and reified entity.

Chapter 6, Spaces of Misrule: The Carnivalesque Safavid- Isfahani Muharram

Chapter Six looks at the other side of the coin by considering the subversive patterns of Muharram rites, and considering unofficial culture, analyzes Muharram rituals from the perspective of the Bakhtinian conception of carnivalesque modes of dialogical communication as “unfinished” voices of informal domains that transcend the uniformity of sanctioned discourse(s), approved by the religious establishment and the state. This chapter is against the discourses that show Muharram as a religious faith and limited to religious discourses.

Chapter 7, Conclusion: The Isfahani Public Sphere

This chapter briefly gives the broad results with the hope of drawing the possible history of modern Iranian civil society.

Source[edit | edit source]