Gharbzadegi, Colonial Capitalism and the Racial State in Iran

Sadeghi-Boroujerdi, Eskandar. 2021. Gharbzadegi, Colonial Capitalism and the Racial State in Iran. Postcolonial Studies, 24(2), pp. 173-194. ISSN 1368-8790 [Article]

Sadeghi-Boroujerdi, E. (2020) Gharbzadegi Colonial Capitalism_AAM.pdf - Accepted Version
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Abstract or Description

This article argues that the political thought of one of twentieth-century Iran’s foremost intellectuals, Jalal Al-e Ahmad (1923-1969) and his seminal work Gharbzadegi (1962), often translated as ‘West-struck-ness’ or ‘Westoxication’, can and should be understood through the critical study of race and racialization. In contrast to the paradigms of ‘nativism’, ‘Islamic atavism’ and the demand for a return to ‘cultural authenticity’, which have traditionally framed the significance and reception of his thought, this article argues that Al-e Ahmad’s notion of gharbzadegi provides important insights into how predatory forms of colonial capitalism stratify the economic world order in accordance with what W.E.B. Du Bois famously called the ‘colour line’. The article submits that Al-e Ahmad’s political thought illuminates the conditions of Eurocentric and racialized forms of knowledge production and immanent material practices, and how they structure the lived experiences of colonial and semi-colonial subjects, as well as providing a remarkable perspective on how ‘race thinking’ and the ‘racial state’ were conceived and institutionalized in twentieth-century Iran.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):


Iran, Jalal Al-e Ahmad, race, racial state, colonial capitalism

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Politics > Centre for Postcolonial Studies


30 August 2020Accepted
20 October 2020Published Online

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

02 Sep 2020 10:46

Last Modified:

20 Apr 2022 01:26

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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