Iranians in the Minds of Americans

Ehsan Shahghasemi
Assistant Professor, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran

Series: Dialogues among Civilizations and Cultures
BISAC: HIS026020

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Iranians in the Minds of Americans is hitherto the most extensive study on perceptions American people have of Iranians. Also, though there are many books that study political relations between Iran and the US, this book tries to take an intercultural approach and reveal what is actually behind politics. This book not only studies perceptions Americans hold for Iranians, but also tries to put these views in the wider historical, political, cultural and social context. Therefore, we can see in this book a very well-documented history of American missionary work and life in Iran’s 19th century. The work of these missionaries, particularly in the field of education, changed the history of Iran forever. Also, missionaries provided the scene for the establishment of the first American legation in Iran. Therefore, in this book the historical relationship between these countries is depicted from before a time of formal relationships to present day.

Through the introduction of the concept of cross cultural schemata by Shahghasemi and Heisey (2009), the book presents a framework for analysis and then it goes on to present results of a study on 1,752 American citizens across 50 American states. The results show clearly the negative role of American media in creating an unfavorable image of Iranian people. Also, we can see that historical events like Hostage Crisis have left a negative effect on Americans’ perception of Iranians. Conversely, American citizens who knew an Iranian citizen in person have shown much more positive perceptions about Iranian people. (Imprint: Nova)

Introduction

Chapter 1. The "Great Satan" versus "the Axis of Evil" (pp. 1-38)

Chapter 2. American Missionary Life and Work in Iran (pp. 39-76)

Chapter 3. Iran and United States in Historical Context (pp. 77-106)

Chapter 4. Studying American Cross Cultural Schemata (pp. 107-118)

Chapter 5. Findings (pp. 119-158)

Chapter 6. Cross Cultural Schemata (pp. 159-240)

Conclusion (pp. 241-244)

Bibliography (pp. 245-262)

About the Author (pp. 263-264)

Index (pp. 265)

“Behind the hardened, intensely presentist stereotypes of Iran and Iranians in contemporary media, Ehsan Shahghasemi finds more diverse cultural schemata that compound prior knowledge and personal experience conveyed in writings of missionaries, travelers and observers going back to the nineteenth century and revealed through his own ingeniously conducted survey research. He presents a wealth of data on both the self-reported sources and the content in schemata that frame images of Iranians in the Minds of Americans that are more varied, positive, and tentative than of the Iranian government. These, he argues, are the basis for intercultural dialogue.” - Jon W. Anderson, Emeritus Professor of Anthropology, Catholic University of America

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This study will be interesting for academic disciplines as diverse as political sciences, communication, critical studies, cultural studies, social psychology, history and conflict resolution. All students, academics and practitioners will benefit by reading this book, though for different purposes. The book will best sell in the U.S. and there is a great possibility that many copies will sell among hundreds of thousands of Iranian-Americans living in the U.S.

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