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Political Theories of DecolonizationPostcolonialism and the Problem of Foundations$
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Margaret Kohn and Keally McBride

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780195399578

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195399578.001.0001

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Anti-Imperialist Political Thought in Iran

(p.35) 2 Westoxification/Detoxification
Political Theories of Decolonization

Kohn Margaret

McBride Keally

Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses on anti-imperialist themes in the work of Muslim writers. Even though postcolonial approaches to Islamic thought are rare, we think that there are important commonalities between strands of Islamic political theory and other critiques of imperialism and colonialism. Islamic modernists were engaged in a project that was going on throughout the colonial world, that of reimagining and recasting traditional sources as alternatives to the institutions and practices imposed by the colonial powers. The anti-imperialist dimension of Islamic modernism is particularly pronounced in the work on Sayyid ad-din al-Afghani. For Afghani, Islam is a necessary source of unity, identity, and mobilization against imperialism. These same ideas reappear in slightly different form in the writings of Ali Shariati and Jalal Al-e-Ahmad, two twentieth century intellectuals who influenced the Iranian revolution. Their critique of “westoxification”—the disease of Western civilization—provided a rhetorical link between different groups who opposed the Shah for different reasons.

Keywords:   Islam, imperialism, modernism, Afghani, westoxification, Shariati, Khomeini, Iran

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