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dc.contributor.advisorCaton, Steven C.
dc.contributor.authorMohammadi Doostdar, Alireza
dc.date.accessioned2012-07-23T15:00:53Z
dc.date.issued2012-07-23
dc.date.submitted2012
dc.identifier.citationMohammadi Doostdar, Alireza. 2012. Fantasies of Reason: Science, Superstition, and the Supernatural in Iran. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University.en_US
dc.identifier.otherhttp://dissertations.umi.com/gsas.harvard:10215en
dc.identifier.urihttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:9282603
dc.description.abstractThis dissertation examines uncertainties about the supernatural among members of the urban middle class in Tehran, Iran. In particular, I attend to the ways in which the category of the supernatural (mavara) has become, for some people, an object of potential scientific (`elmi) inquiry that must be distinguished from approaches usually ascribed to the rural, the uneducated, and the poor, often deemed as either superstitions (khorafat) or parochically religious (dini). By examining a range of encounters with the supernatural - such as attempts to explain communications with the souls of the dead, make sense of spirit possession, and differentiate real magic from charlatanism - I highlight the varied modalities through which perspectives and forms of reasoning imagined to be rational and scientific are brought to bear on matters that are understood to lie, at least partially, within the purview of religious knowledge. I situate such supernatural encounters against a backdrop of state disciplinary and coercive measures, thereby illuminating important shifts in Iran's politico-religious landscape in the past two decades, such as the waning of the religious authority of the Shi`i ulama among certain sections of society. This declining authority does not necessarily imply a weakened interest in Islam (although this is sometimes the case). Rather, it has opened up a space for reception and deliberation of a multiplicity of sources of religious knowledge, both Islamic and non-Islamic. These include forms of Western-imported spirituality and occultism that have been entering Iran for over a century, with their most recent wave consisting of translated texts of New Age spirituality, self-help success literature, and popular psychology that have gained popularity since the end of the war with Iraq. The metaphysical models on offer through these spiritual systems are usually promoted and understood as scientific rather than religious. That is, rather than being seen as contradicting Islamic notions, these formulations are often viewed as parallel to them. By attending to such notions and their everyday manifestations, my project brings into focus various hybrid forms of religious-scientific knowledge, experience, and discourse that have largely been ignored in the study of modern Muslim societies.en_US
dc.language.isoen_USen_US
dash.licenseLAA
dc.subjectIslamic cultureen_US
dc.subjectanthropology of religionen_US
dc.subjectIranen_US
dc.subjectIslamen_US
dc.subjectscienceen_US
dc.subjectsupernaturalen_US
dc.subjectsuperstitionen_US
dc.subjectcultural anthropologyen_US
dc.titleFantasies of Reason: Science, Superstition, and the Supernatural in Iranen_US
dc.typeThesis or Dissertationen_US
dc.date.available2012-07-23T15:00:53Z
thesis.degree.date2012en_US
thesis.degree.disciplineMiddle Eastern Studiesen_US
thesis.degree.grantorHarvard Universityen_US
thesis.degree.leveldoctoralen_US
thesis.degree.namePh.D.en_US


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