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Iran and Impact of Modernization

Iran: A Nation Threatened at the Seams

In attempting to understand the twentieth century history of Iran, Amin Babani's The Modernization of Iran 1921-1941 (1961) and Donald N. Wilber's Riza Shah Pahlavi: The Resurrection and Reconsideration of Iran (1975) offer excellent guide posts. Babani offers a more comprehensive account of how Iran struggled to cast off its lingering vestiges of nineteenth century values and traditions within the early decades of the twentieth century. Babani's goal is more restricted than Wilber's. Babani is interested in charting the approach and effects of modernization upon Iran. In contrast, Wilber chooses to focus upon an historical figure, Riza Shah Pahlavi, as an entry point for analyzing how Iran entered into becoming a more dominant presence in twentieth century international politics. Conjointly, Banani and Wilber offer an historical framework which helps the Westerner to understand Iran from the inside-out rather than from the biases and limitations of the prejudiced outsider position.

Banani's gift as a cultural historian is that he painstakingly discusses the variant influences which both shaped and distorted the formation of Iran. One of his major premises is that the modernization of Iran depends upon "the interaction of cultures" (Banani 1). By this, he means to suggest that Iran has been influenced by its volatile and often resistant mixing of Eastern and Western traditions. In offering a brief overview of the cyclical ascent and descent of Persian power, Banani indicates that Iran's actual immersion into modernization results from the two major movements of nationalism and constitutionalism (Banani 9). Banani reveals with deft skill how strongly Iran has been influenced by the turf wars which both Russian and England fought over it. Russia's expansionist history saw it continually encroaching upon its border with Iran. England understood that positioned right after Iran was...

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Iran and Impact of Modernization. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 23:57, August 07, 2020, from