organization of the volumes
he book is divided into four volumes, covering the social history of over a
of Iranian cinema, from around 1897 to about 2010. The history
of Iranian society and the cinema it produced in this period is bookended by
two revolutions: the 1905–11 Constitutional Revolution, which brought in a
constitutional monarchy, and the 1978–79 Islamic Revolution, which installed
a republican theocratic state. While the impact of the first revolution on cin-
ema and film culture was apparently limited and inchoate, the latter revolu-
tion profoundly affected them, resulting in their unprecedented efflorescence.
As a work of social history and theory, these volumes deal not only with
such chronological developments in society and in the film industry but also
with the synchronic contexts, formations, dispositions, and maneuvers that
overdetermined modernity in Iran and a dynamically evolving film indus-
try and its unique products. I locate the film industry and its mode of pro-
duction, narratives, aesthetics, and generic forms in the interplay of deeply
rooted Iranian performative and visual arts and what was imported, adopted,
adapted, translated, mistranslated, and hybridized from the West. The inter-
play between Iranian and Islamic philosophies and aesthetics complicated
and channeled cinema, particularly that involving women, in ways unique to
Iran, which are discussed throughout the volumes. Likewise, the contribution
of Iranian ethnoreligious minorities, both widespread and profound, gave Ira-
nian cinema additional specificity.
The volumes also situate Iranian cinema at the intersection of state-driven
authoritarian modernization, nationalist and Islamist politics, and geopolitics
during its tumultuous century, charting the manner in which local, national,
regional, and international powers competed for ascendancy in Iran, affect-
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