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Political Elites and the Question of Ethnicity and Democracy in Iran: A Critical View

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This article presents a critical view of the contemporary studies in the realm of ethnicity and nationality in Iran. Discussing the conceptual, methodological and theoretical pitfalls of such studies, the author claims that the lack of an approach based on the historical sociology and the failure to consider the historical specificities of the Iranian case have distorted the issue of ethnicity and national identity in Iran. Considering the relation between ethnicity and democracy, the author argues that the way ethnicity and ethnic factors have been instrumentally politicised by the regional and international actors, as well as the domestic political elites, has created serious obstacles for the rise and consolidation of democracy in Iran. Such an instrumental approach toward the question of ethnicity in itself stems from the fact that the reality of the ethnic and national issues in the Iranian society has been misunderstood.


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