orgAnizAtion of tHe volumeS
he book is divided into four volumes, covering the social history of more
a century of Iranian cinema, from around 1897 to about 2010. The his-
tory of Iranian society and the cinema it produced in this period is bookended
by two revolutions: the Constitutional Revolution of 1905–11, which brought in
a constitutional monarchy, and the Islamic Revolution of 1978–79, which in-
stalled a republican theocratic state. While the impact of the first revolution on
cinema and film culture was apparently limited and inchoate, the latter revo-
lution profoundly affected them, resulting in their unprecedented curtailment
and 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 overde-
termined modernity in Iran and a dynamically evolving film industry and its
unique products. I locate the film industry and its mode of production, narra-
tives, aesthetics, and generic forms in the interplay of deeply rooted Iranian per-
formative and visual arts and what was imported, adopted, adapted, translated,
mistranslated, and hybridized from the West. The interplay 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 within the country and in the diaspora, both widespread and
profound, gave Iranian 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, affecting
what Iranians saw on screens, what they produced, and the technologies they
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