Self-Orientalism in Modern Iran (Case of Seyed Mohammad-Ali Jamal-zadeh)
تاريخ : بيستم و چهارم آذر 1392 ساعت 16:14   کد : 577

Self-Orientalism in Modern Iran (Case of Seysd Mohmmad Ali Jamal-zadeh) (present With Armin Amir & Sahar Faeghi). The 3rd International Conference on Social Thought and Society in The Middle East and North Africa. Iran Sociological Association and Institute for Humanities and Cultural Studies, Tehran, Iran. 11-12 December 2013.

Self-Orientalism in Modern Iran

(Case of Seyed Mohammad-Ali Jamal-zadeh)

Mohammad-Reza Javadi Yeganeh

Armin Amir

Sahar Faeghi


Although Seyed Mohammad-Ali Jamal-zadeh is known as one of the three founders of contemporary Iranian literature in field of story, but it's not the only reason for his fame. He, moreover, has published a book named Iranian's Character in 1345 (1966) which so many people read, and it has been referred to much more than any book written in the field of national character in Iran. In the book, Jamal-zadeh acts like a physician, not a literary man, to diagnose Iranian society's pains which he calls as decay. But, what is the decay that holds Iran from becoming as developed as the West? Surely it is their character, Jamal-zadeh says. In short, the reason we are this much undeveloped is some of our ethics. Fortunately, western travelers, intellectuals and politicians diagnosed and told us about those ethics. Then, the only thing we should do is accepting our weaknesses and following their instructions.

But this is not the whole story. We ask: what allows Jamal-zadeh to call Iranians' with such negative and humiliating accent? Edward Said knows the answer: self-Orientalism or self-Orientalizing. Publishing Orientalism in late 1970's, Said created a new wave in post-colonial studies tradition. He believes that Orientalism is not just an academic discipline, but also a discourse facilitating European countries colonization and exploitation over the East. In order to reaching this purpose, Orientalism should have created a new Orient which hadn't any relationship with the real one; rather, it was something useful for colonizing purposes. It means, the Euro-centrism governing the orientalists had exploiting benefits in developing the Orientalism discourse.

So, this essay aims to test Jamal-zadeh's Iranian Character against the touchstone of Said's Orientalism and self-Orientalism. We will show that Iranian Character can be considered as a self-Orientalizing book.