A vital past
Engaging nostalgia
in Development, architecture, and the formation of heritage in late twentieth-century Iran
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This chapter discusses nostalgia as the theoretical concept central to understanding the cultural transformations of this period. It teases out the meaning and nuances of the concept by referring to the scholarship on nostalgia itself and on its political implications in Iran. This concept, in its various forms, has prompted three other discourses pertinent to cultural production, namely, authenticity, civilization, and tradition. While addressing the Iranian context, the chapter notes that all these concepts were informed by and conveyed a global currency. It elaborates the meaning and formations of these concepts while referring to historical contexts that sustained them. Thus, while elaborating on manifestations of nostalgic authenticity, it also engages with notions of civilizational discourse and anti-Westernism that were on the rise in the 1970s. It also critically engages with ideas of tradition, which range from Traditionalism, expounded by Seyyed Hossein Nasr, to critiques of the invention of the traditions thesis. These are significant for developing a critical understanding of the nexus between development, design, and heritage in Iran. In the end, the chapter illustrates the concepts at work by referring to an example from the architect Nader Ardalan in the design of the Iran Centre for Management Studies (ICMS).


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