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Are Zoroastrians a Nation? Different Identity Formations/Patterns of Iranian and Indian Zoroastrians

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image of Iran and the Caucasus

The article contributes to the debate on the modern transformations of collective identities and nation-building processes. We compare different identity patterns of Zoroastrians in Iran and India and answer the question whether one can consider them as a nation or as separate ethno-religious communities. The paper is an answer to a suggestion made by Rashna Writer about national ties linking Zoroastrians worldwide. Basing on field research of Zoroastrians in Iran and India, we argue that among them there are no visible traits regarding the construction of a national identity, only certain trends to remember ties with their diasporas. We believe that among the factors shaping rather a sense of belonging to a local ethno-religious community, are the concept of local ethnohistory, the usage of the Zoroastrian Dari language, strong Iranian nationalism based on a common Iranian history and a culture effectively separating Iranian Zoroastrians from their Indian coreligionists.The focus of the article is collective identity understood as something socially constructed mainly by local community’s leaders. We compare the process of identity construction of Iranian and Indian Zoroastrians, considering it as something rooted in different historical, as well as sociocultural and political contexts.

Affiliations: 1: Jagiellonian University


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