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Iran’s New Cultural Nationalism: Iranian Cultural Diplomacy in Tajikistan Open Access

Iran’s state identity is frequently described as Islamist, Shia, and anti-imperialist when discussing its behavior in the Middle East, but as pragmatic and even non-ideological in its approach to Central Asia. By parsing Iranian officials' speeches and purpose-written schoolbooks for ideology, this article documents the multiple identities that cultural diplomats present in Tajikistan and the functions they perform, including propagating normative Iranian identity among Iranian expats, lobbying Tajik officials, and influencing Tajik citizens. In contrast to the Middle East, Iranian cultural diplomacy in Tajikistan prioritizes a Persian identity as the basis for economic, scientific, cultural, and political integration in the region. Moreover, this identity is being discursively securitized as a strategic asset and an answer to threats from Salafism and globalization.

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