Reclaiming Islam and Modernity: A Neo-Shariati Revisiting of Ali Shariati's Intellectual Discourse in Post-revolutionary Iran

  • Author / Creator
    Saffari, Siavash
  • Over three and a half decades after his death, Ali Shariati (1933-1977) continues to occupy a major place in the ongoing academic and public debates about the relationship between Islam and modernity. Seldom, however, have commentators attended to the ways in which Shariati's intellectual followers in post-revolutionary Iran have read his thought in relation to the condition, content, and negotiation of modernity in Iran and other contemporary Muslim societies. This dissertation seeks to address the existing research gap by examining new readings of Shariati's thought by a group of Iranian intellectuals and activists collectively known as neo-Shariatis. It argues that in post-revolutionary Iran, neo-Shariatis have read Shariati's revolutionary Islamic discourse as a project of indigenous modernity whose critical reexamination can serve the negotiation of a third way between hegemonic universalism (in the form of Enlightenment rationalism, authoritarian modernism, and autocratic secularism) and essentialist particularism (in the form of Islamism and other types of religious, cultural, and ethnic identitarianism). Drawing on the normative and methodological insights of the emerging subdiscipline of comparative political theory, the dissertation identifies the Shariati/neo-Shariati discourse as one among several other discourses of indigenous modernity in contemporary Muslim societies, and as part of a broader post-colonial reconfiguration and reclaiming of modernity. In examining the sociopolitical significance of the Shariati/neo-Shariati project, the dissertation focuses on the theorization of an account of progressive public religion and a contextually grounded discourse of egalitarian secular democracy in the contributions of Ehsan Shariati, Sara Shariati, Reza Alijani and other leading neo-Shariati figures. The dissertation also identifies some of the ways in which the Shariati/neo-Shariati critique of colonial modernity and the attempt to develop a counter-hegemonic discourse of modernity on the basis of an Islamic spiritual ontology finds common ground with the discourses of various Western and non-Western critics of colonial modernity and Enlightenment rationality, and contributes to the advancement of a post-colonial vision of cosmopolitanism.

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  • Graduation date
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
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  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
    • Department of Political Science
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Mahdavi, Mojtaba (Political Science)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Nichols, Robert (Political Science)
    • Kellogg, Catherine (Political Science)
    • Dallmayr, Fred (Political Science, University of Notre Dame)
    • Bayatrizi, Zohreh (Sociology)
    • Abu-Laban, Yasmeen (Political Science)