Hamid Dabashi

American academic

Hamid Dabashi (born 15th June 1951) is an Iranian-born American historian, cultural and literary critic and expert on Iran and Shi'a Islam.

Dabashi in 2013


  • Shi'ism is a religion of doing nothing. It can never succeed without doing nothing. When it succeeds, Shi'ism is still nothing. In the Islamic context at large, it partakes in the masculinism of its transcendental deity and in the Iranian context in particular it exacerbates itself by partaking in monarchical masculinity.
  • The visual possibility of seeing the historical person (as opposed to the eternal Qur'anic man) on screen is arguably the single most important event allowing Iranians access to modernity.
    • Close-up: Iranian Cinema Past, Present and Future


  • While [European] national cultures were concocted to distinguish one economic unit of capital from another, civilizational thinking was invented to unify these cultures against their colonial consequences. Islamic, Indian, or African civilizations were invented contrapuntally by Orientalism…in order to match, balance and thus authenticate ‘Western Civilization’.
  • 'Islam and globanalisation', or giving European and American space to Muslim names to denounce their own Islamic phantasms, is a new phase in the social manufacturing of domination -- using nominal Muslims against Islamic abstractions. This -- pitting lapsed Muslims against Islamic sensibilities -- is ultimately an exercise in futility. The fate of the globe, Europe included, is written elsewhere, somewhere between the lines of massive labour migration, on one side, and the global reconfiguration of the capital that systematically seeks to abuse it, on the other. The culture war this has occasioned in the meantime is a murderous nightmare for many, a lucrative pastime for some, a headache for others, and yet at the end an entirely negligible footnote to history.
  • The link between Betty Mahmoody’s “Not Without My Daughter” and Azar Nafisi’s [Reading Lolita in Tehran] is the link between two phases and modes of labor migration, the moral salvation that “the West” provides, and imperial hubris. What is paramount in all of these is the denigration of local cultures as the site of actual or potential resistance to imperial domination. There cannot be any politics of resistance, aesthetics of emancipation, or prose and poetry of agential autonomy in history for people around the world—nothing except a Starbucks Coffee version of the so-called “Western classics” to go and save them. Interview with Znet.
  • Otherwise lacking internal support or external legitimacy, the US empire now banks on a pedigree of comprador intellectuals, homeless minds and guns for hire. All this to momentarily manufacture consent, to secure a selective memory, and to sustain a far more enduring collective amnesia that may perhaps serve immediate US imperial purposes well, but will ipso facto sustain its self-destructive force of building fictive sand castles near the factual waves of history. This empire will not last. No empire does. If empires lasted, the whole world would be speaking ancient Persian today. Native informers and the making of the American empire.
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