The Problematic Confrontation of “Us” with the Other: One Dream and Multiple Interpretations

The Problematic Confrontation of “Us” with the Other: One Dream and Multiple Interpretations



“Stranger, talk! Tell me, what should I do to awaken Iranians?” This statement of Abbas Mirza clearly portrays an encounter between Iranians and “the other” at the beginning of Iran’s modern age: the Stranger is assumed to hold some kind of truth, the revelation of which would lead to the awakening of Iranians. The statement could be considered as one of the intitial attempts of the Iranian “we” to imagine the dream of the other. To discuss this imagination that stems from confronting the other, the article begins with Akhondzadeh’s Maktūbat and trace”our” imagination up to the 1979 revolution. This was a turning point in the life of “our” dream because it was a strangly different one that happened as an unique event and made the other steamed up about what’s going on in there, or inFoucault’s terms “what are the Iranians dreaming about?” In order to understand it, Foucault puts his finger on “the teachings and esoteric content of Shi’ism” which he saw as determining “the way of being” of every single protester on the streets of Iran. His account of Iranian dream has always been criticized: in favor of “spirituality” of the revolutionary events, he separates spirituality from violence and even considers the violence of such revolts inevitable. But as thefundamentalist government that longed for the Islamic Caliphate continued using violence, the dream turned into a nightmare and Foucault no longer pursued his discussion. To better understand this nightmare, the article examines the 2009 protests in Iran and focuses on Nikfar’s argument around “religious truth” that emerges in prison. The article concludes the 1979 and 2009 events were not just realisations of a nightmare, and that Žižek’s reading of the “Iranian event” shows that emancipatory potential of Islam should not be ignored because of its violence.

Cite this article:
Azarpanah Sayeh, and Maktoum Maedeh. 2022. “The Problematic Confrontation of ‘Us’ With the Other: One Dream and Multiple Interpretations”. Freedom of Thought Journal, no. 11 (April):45-64.


Sayeh Azarpanah
Maedeh Maktoum

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