ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Iran Renegotiating a Revolutionary Identity

Iran: Renegotiating a 'Revolutionary' Identity INTRODUCTION NOTHING prepares an outsider for the reality of everyday life in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Although the Iranian version of an'Islamic republic' is believed to be more doctrinaire than Pakistan's, in fact Iran is witness to a tremendous disjunct between state discourse and social practices: many Iranian citizens insulate themselves and even covertly resist the strident public rhetoric of the political and religious elites. Just as 'taaruf or exchange of compliments, in Farsi works at two levels, with overt linguistic artistry accompanying hidden cultural coding, likewise zealous official pronouncements about the need for greater Islamic morality and continued commitment to the ideals of the Islamic Revolution are often matched by a widespread and powerful mixture of popular apathy, disenchantment, and cynicism. The undertow of bitter cultural, political, social, and economic tensions indicate that Iran has entered a prolonged phase of renegotiating its 'revolutionary' identity. Continuity, flux and contestation are defining traits of this new phase in Iranian history, All this is not to suggest that the Iranian Revolution is on the verge of imploding or that the ruling clerical elites are about to face a violent denouement, such as that of the Pahlavis: rather, it is to point to the fact that the Revolution is under strong popular pressure to change. This has not only provided an opening for the election of president Khatemi but also allowed for fitful movements away from previous official 'revolutionary' norms. Though president Khatemi's most vocal opposition, the conservatives, continue to articulate these norms, their critique simply exacerbates the divide between Ayatollah Khamenei Supreme Guide of the Iranian Revolution after Khomeini and, thus, upholder of revolutionary 'orthodoxy' - and the majority of citizens who live with and under the Revolution.

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