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.