Dr. Menahem Merhavy
“National Symbols in Modern Iran: Identity, Persian Ethnicity, and Collective Memory”
This study examines the ways in which Iranians have argued, debated, and struggled over national symbols throughout the last four decades. By focusing on national symbols such as Cyrus the Great and Persepolis and the ways in which they have been interpreted by Iranian publicists, government officials, and religious leaders, it explores the dynamics of struggles over who defines different components of Iranian identity and their changes over time. Focusing on the last four decades, I examine continuity versus change triggered by the revolution of 1979 in Iran, which established the Islamic Republic. The book will thus contribute to our understanding of cultural symbols that survive political upheavals, dramatic and significant as they may be. It will also contribute to the growing body of literature that challenges the state-centered perspective of much research on modern Iran, by exposing the ever-growing importance of civil society in the Iranian public sphere from the second half of the twentieth century onward.