Unity within Diversity: Foundations and Dynamics of National Identity in Iran

Document Type: Research Paper


Faculty of Law and Political Science, University of Tehran


The article provides a critical assessment of the more recent literature that relies on theoretical frameworks such as post modernism and globalization to deal with national identity, ethnicity and cultural mobility. Explaining sensitive and complicated issues such as identity requires the extensive use of the native historical, cultural and sociological sources related to the Iranian experience in the past rather than extracting generalizations based on a general and a-historical application of general social science theories. Three factors throughout Iranian history have played significant roles in creating a sense of national identity or Iranian-ness among all groups in Iranian society. These factors are the legacy of ancient Iran’s political heritage, the central role of the Persian language in conveying the political, cultural and religious legacy to all Iranian religious and linguistic groups, and the important role of religion in the revival of Iran’s cultural heritage, its independence, and unification.