Haidar Khezri


This essay studies the history, current, and future status of the discipline of comparative literature in Iran. It compares the theoretical norms of contemporary comparative literature to the Pre-modern Perso-Islamic notion of “comparison,” which has been theorized in Iran and the Arab World as the Arabic, Islamic, and Iranian schools of comparative literature. The article highlights profound institutional and canonical Perso-Shi’a centrism in Iranian academia, and shows how the discipline of comparative literature has been used as a vehicle for transnationalism of this Perso-Shi’a centrism that has manifested in “Persianate World” in the context of European and North American academia. Marshall Hodgson’s 1960s neologism “Persianate World” has been placed with the paradigm shifts ushered in by the linguistic and cultural turns of the 1970s, the postcolonial scholarship that grew from Edward Said’s Orientalism in the late 1990s, and Sheldon Pollock’s formulation of a ‘Sanskrit cosmopolis’ in the 21st century. The article explains how the Persianate comparatists, under the banner of postcolonial studies, not only erased the experience of the subaltern and internally colonialized non-Persians of Iran in favor of the Middle Eastern states in a binary matrix (Western Imperialism versus a “colonialized” Islamic world), but also represents an unrealistic and exaggerated picture of the discipline to Western readers. The article further maps the conversations within the postcolonial Middle East about “internal colonialism,” as an analytic tool for thinking about operations and interlocking systems of power in the Middle East and abroad, here applied to the discipline of comparative literature for the first time.


comparative literature, Perso-Shi’a centrism, Persianate, internal colonialism

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A Revista Brasileira de Literatura Comparada está indexada nas seguintes bases:

Revista Brasileira de Literatura Comparada, ISSN 0103-6963, ISSN 2596-304X (on line)

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Esta revista utiliza uma Licença Creative Commons Atribuição 4.0 Internacional (CC BY 4.0).

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