Insurgent, Poet, Mystic, Sectarian

The Four Masks of an Eastern Postmodernism

By Jason Bahbak Mohaghegh

Subjects: Middle East Studies, Literary Criticism, Cultural Studies, Postcolonial Studies
Series: SUNY series in Global Modernity
Paperback : 9781438456102, 338 pages, January 2016
Hardcover : 9781438456119, 338 pages, June 2015

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Table of contents

Introduction: Modernity—Age of Extremity
Part I. Insurgent
1. Theorizing the Insurgent: Otherless Subjectivity, Radical Coldness, and the East-West Matrix
2. Images of Resistance: Media, Modernity, and the Machine Within Iranian Revolutionary Ideology
Part II. Poet
3. The Poetics of Urban Violence: The Night Raid, the Martyred Body, and the Execution Spectacle
4. Will to Chaos: Iranian Avant-Garde Literature and Western Thought
Part III. Mystic
5. Vision, Disappearance, and the Soundscape: New-Wave Iranian Cinema and the Postmodern Pack
Part IV. Sectarian
6. Sectarianism I: And They Shall Dream of the Enemy
7. Sectarianism II: Final Delineations of the Sect

Discusses how contemporary Iranian and Middle Eastern thinkers and artists are forging a new postmodern vision.


The insurgent, the poet, the mystic, the sectarian: these are four modes of subjectivity that have emerged amid Middle Eastern thought's attempt to reverse, dethrone, or supersede modernity. Providing a theoretical overview of each of these existential stances, Jason Bahbak Mohaghegh engages the views of thinkers and artists of the last several decades, primarily from Iran, but also from Arab, Turkish, North African, Armenian, Afghani, Chechen, and Kurdish backgrounds. He explores various dimensions of the Middle Eastern experience at the threshold of the postmodern moment, including revolutionary ideology, avant-garde literature, new-wave cinema, and radical-extremist thought. The profound reinvention of concepts characteristic of such work—fatalism, insurrection, disappearance, siege—provide unique interpretations and confrontations with the modern period and its relationship to those who presumably fall outside its boundaries of self-consciousness. Expanding the conversation, Mohaghegh contrasts the impressions of the Middle Eastern figures considered with those of the most incisive Western thinkers of modernity, such as Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Baudrillard, to offer an original global vision that crosses the East-West divide.

Jason Bahbak Mohaghegh is Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature at Babson College and author of Silence in Middle Eastern and Western Thought: The Radical Unspoken; The Writing of Violence in the Middle East: Inflictions; and New Literature and Philosophy of the Middle East: The Chaotic Imagination.


"…[a] relevant and refreshing book. " — CHOICE

"This is a fascinating book that accomplishes something absolutely unique: it weaves together several theories, it is historically attuned to the region, and it engages politics (local and international). Mohaghegh's work is a genuinely novel contribution. " — Farhang Erfani, American University