dc.contributor.advisor Caton, Steven C. dc.contributor.author Mohammadi Doostdar, Alireza dc.date.accessioned 2012-07-23T15:00:53Z dc.date.issued 2012-07-23 dc.date.submitted 2012 dc.identifier.citation Mohammadi Doostdar, Alireza. 2012. Fantasies of Reason: Science, Superstition, and the Supernatural in Iran. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University. en_US dc.identifier.other http://dissertations.umi.com/gsas.harvard:10215 en dc.identifier.uri http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:9282603 dc.description.abstract This 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 Shii 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.iso en_US en_US dash.license LAA dc.subject Islamic culture en_US dc.subject anthropology of religion en_US dc.subject Iran en_US dc.subject Islam en_US dc.subject science en_US dc.subject supernatural en_US dc.subject superstition en_US dc.subject cultural anthropology en_US dc.title Fantasies of Reason: Science, Superstition, and the Supernatural in Iran en_US dc.type Thesis or Dissertation en_US dc.date.available 2012-07-23T15:00:53Z thesis.degree.date 2012 en_US thesis.degree.discipline Middle Eastern Studies en_US thesis.degree.grantor Harvard University en_US thesis.degree.level doctoral en_US thesis.degree.name Ph.D. en_US
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