The External Space as a Source of Pollution: Iranian Intellectuality and the Image of the West

By Alireza Hassanzadeh.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

In contemporary Iran, people changed some of their normative behaviors to accept a new life style under the charm of imported modernity. In the course of this modernization, cultural values and patterns have been transformed. Iranian intellectuals were not neutral in relation to these social changes, so some critical terms were coined by them to criticize this social changes and unequal relationship with the west. From their view points, Western countries were accused of seeking to undermine Iranian culture and morality. A criticism has been applied against the emergence of a new and exotic culture in terms of consumerism, dependency, bodily pleasure, etc.
By the use of anthropological approach, a powerful image of society can be realized as a main point to form a boundary between “self “and “otherness”. The sacred and the unsacred poles are two related and contrasting terms which can enhance the image of society as a whole. Every culturally distinctive mark was given a holy meaning against exotic cultural mark as a sign of pollution. This policy of meaning depicts inside space as a realm of sacredness and external space as an unclean and unholy territory. External and internal spaces were placed versus each others in this standpoint. A terminology of cultural illness and infection were formed by this outlook. The leading form of anti western discourse which produced by Iranian religious intellectuality, revolved around the status of body .Without normalization of body, world cannot be normalized and godly rules cannot be implemented. Two terms are suggested by this article to describe the foundation of struggle between Iranian religious intellectuals and western culture thought: ‘vertical and horizontal world views’. This contradiction leads to an asymmetrical dialogue between two opposite sides as abstract communication.

Keywords: Cultural Pollution, Westernization, Vertical and Horizontal World View, Body–world Normativity, Asymmetrical Dialogue

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp.87-100. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 630.754KB).

Alireza Hassanzadeh

PhD Student of Anthropology, Goethe University, Frankfurt, Frankfurt am Main, Germany

I was born in Iran in 1971. I have B.A in journalism and M.A in anthropology. This time ,I have studied anthropology for PhD at Goethe University. I have written some books and articles in Persian such as Alive Legends, 24 Anthropological Articles on Iranian Folktales by Boghe & Baz Publisher in 2000.Woman and culture ;as scientific editor, this book includes 47articles in commemoration of Margaret Mead in 2001 by Ney Publication. Iranian Anthropology ,challenges and contestations, 26 roundtables as scientific editor in 2008 by Anthropological Research Center; translator of Anthropology Of Sport in 2008 by Anthropological Research Center Publication. Food and Culture, a collection of articles in 2009 as editor by Mehrnamag Publisher. In addition to these books, I have written some articles in Iranian scientific journals.

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