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The Iranian MetaphysicalsExplorations in Science, Islam, and the Uncanny$
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Alireza Doostdar

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780691163772

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691163772.001.0001

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Popular Nonsense

Popular Nonsense

(p.38) 2 Popular Nonsense
The Iranian Metaphysicals

Alireza Doostdar

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines a range of competing discourses and sensibilities that circulate around the figure of the rammal. As a social type, the rammal is elusive and contradictory. Most people condemn the rammal as a peddler of superstition and charlatanry, often taken in contemporary discourses of rationality as their quintessential enemy. The rammal's elusiveness may be attributed in large part to the fact that the term is used in contemporary Iran to refer to a wide array of occult specialists. The chapter considers the ways in which the rammals are disparaged as charlatans and rammali as hocus-pocus, with emphasis on the processes of rationalization initiated by intellectuals, religious leaders, and state officials for policing the “line” crossed by Nafiseh. In particular, it discusses the denigration of superstition and nonsense, along with efforts by modernist critics such as Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to eliminate superstition, which they believed afflicted women.

Keywords:   rammal, superstition, charlatans, rationality, Iran, occult, rammali, rationalization, intellectuals, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini

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