Houshang Pourshariati Iranian Studies Book Award
2016 Honorable Mention
As implied by the double sense of the book’s title, Vejdani examines the actors and institutions which took part in the development of Iranian historiography during the transformation from an empire towards a nation-state. Pushing against previous scholarship which identified the driving force of nationalism as either externally sparked through Western emulation or internally coerced through top-down state compulsion, Vejdani expands the set of individuals which shaped and participated in Iranian history-making from the late Qajar period through the constitutional and early Pahlavi eras. Through a sweeping look at previously unused sources, including works by court amateurs, private educators, women writers, and provincial elites, Vejdani highlights the distinctive processes of history-making in Iran as compared to more widely studied examples from colonial India or Kemalist Turkey. The study grounds the formation of Iranian nationalism within transnational social and intellectual currents as well as new print technologies and pedagogical practices. The committee determined that Vejdani’s work, by greatly enriching the field of social history of modern Iran, will serve as a model for future scholarship inside and outside the field of Iranian Studies.