These essays examine Iran's place in the world - its relations and cultural interactions with its immediate neighbors and with empires and superpowers from the beginning of the Safavid period in 1501 to the present day. The book provides important historical background on recent political and social developments in Iran and on its contemporary foreign relations. The topics explored include Iranian influence abroad on political organization, religion, literature, art, and diplomacy, as well as Iran's absorption of foreign influences in these areas. A special focus is the prevailing political culture of Iran throughout its early modern and contemporary periods.
The authors combine approaches from history, political science, anthropology, international relations, and culturalstudies. Some essays address Iran's interactions with various Arab and Turkic ethnicities in the region stretching from India to Egypt. Others examine its relations with the West during the Qajar and Pahlavi eras, women's issues, culture inside Iran during the Islamic Republic, and the Shi`ite theocracy of Iran as compared with other Muslim states.
Nikki R. Keddie is professor emerita of history at UCLA and the author of many books, including Women in Middle Eastern History and Iran and the Muslim World. Rudi Matthee is associate professor of history at the University of Delaware. Other contributors are Bahman Baktiari, Thomas J. Barfield, Asef Bayat, Wilfried Buchta, Juan R. I. Cole, Ahmad Karimi-Hakkak, Firoozeh Kashani-Sabet, Golnar Mehran, Hamid Naficy, Vali Nasr, Monica M. Ringer, Jasamin Rostam-Kolayi, Gary Sick, Abolala Soudavar, and Nayereh Tohidi.
"Too few Americans appreciate Iran's rich culture, which has produced countless treasures and influenced the international development of literature, visual arts, religion, and cinema. Iran and the Surrounding World explores Iran's cultural development in numerous fields while illustrating that Iran and other countries-from South Asia to Europe-have mutually benefited from a vibrant cultural dialogue for many hundreds of years."
-Lee H. Hamilton, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
"This volume provides fifteen stimulating articles about a part of the world Americans urgently need to know better. By placing Iran after 1500 not within its official, modern borders, but within an earlier world of porous boundaries, and a contemporary world of transnational interactions, the volume situates itself well within new trends of historical writing. The authors are among the foremost authorities writing on Iran today."
-Barbara D. Metcalf, University of California, Davis
"This enjoyable book covers relations with South Asia and the role of Turkic nomadic tribes, through discussions of long-term relations with the West and the cultural-political significance of the arts. Almost half the book addresses the perod since the revolution of 1979, and there are several original contributions on women's issues."
-Janet Afary, Purdue University