Discussant/Commentateur/Commentatrice : Mojtaba Mahdavi (University of Alberta)
A New Roadmap to Culture: Mapping Political Culture with Network Algorithms & Graph Theory: Amir Abdul Reda (University of Toronto) Abstract: How can we map political culture in a manner sensible both to diverse worldviews and the need for parsimonious categories of analysis? To do so, I introduce a new method for the study of political culture which I base on some recent advances in the study of network algorithms and graph theory. In a nutshell, it safeguards parsimony by using elites as a priori categories of analyses and secures diversity by using network algorithms to outline additional patterns in the data. I demonstrate the usefulness of my method and its theoretical foundations by analyzing the political culture of the Arab world between 2010 and 2014 based on 22,785 observations from the Carnegie Middle East Governance and Islam Dataset (CMEGID).
Iran, 40 Years On: Is a Post-Islamist Democracy Possible?: Mojtaba Mahdavi (University of Alberta) Abstract: This year marks the 40th anniversary of the 1979 Iranian Revolution, but the postrevolutionary polity has yet to materialize Iran’s long quest for democracy. Drawing on social movements/democratization literature and using a “dialectics of structure and agency,” this paper asks what structural and agential factors contributed to this crisis, and under what conditions they may facilitate the rise of a post-Islamist democracy?
The paper is divided into two sections: the first section historicizes modern Iran’s long march towards democracy from the Constitutional Revolution (1906-1911), the democratic parliamentary nationalism under Mosaddegh (1951-1953), the anti-despotic and Islamic revolutionary change (1977-1979), to the current “post-Islamist” social movement – the Green Movement and the aftermath (2009-).
The second section conceptualizes and contextualize Iran’s multiple voices of post-Islamist movement and examines whether it is capable of materializing Iran’s quest for democracy. Moreover, it problematizes what socio-political actors, and structural and agential factors contributed to the current crisis, and under what conditions social-political agents may transform structural obstacles into opportunities for Iran’s post-Islamist democracy.
The structural factors are assessed by the structure of the Iranian state (political level), the status of societal development (socio-economic level), and the global structure of power (international level). The agential factors are examined by the leadership skill (individual level), the organizational strength (institutional level), and the intellectual discourse (cultural/ideological level). The conclusion suggests that the current post-Islamist “social” condition is surrounded by domestic and international obstacles, but it has a great potential to establish a post-Islamist “polity”.