Date of this Version
The Review of Politics 75:2 (2013), pp. 273-276; doi: 10.1017/S0034670513000077
As revolutions are unfolding in different regions of the Middle East and North Africa, Nader Sohrabi’s timely brilliant and sophisticated comparative study of the Young Turk Revolution of 1908 and the Iranian Constitutional Revolution of 1905–1911 comes to provide us with an innovative template to think about constitutional revolutions around the globe in general and in the Middle East in particular. The book constructs a framework that allows an in-depth understanding of the revolutions in the Middle East and argues that the Young Turk and the Iranian revolutions were products of negotiation with the global model and a hybrid result of interaction, absorption, and adaptation to regional and local exigencies (19). The author argues that the global model represented by the French Revolution and its aura of success prompted similar demands that led to the creation of comparable institutions in the Ottoman Empire and Iran. On the regional level, constitutionalism became the only hope for self-strengthening. In this process, a negotiation took place between global constitutionalism with similar religious and cultural traditions with Iran and the Ottoman Empire. On the local level, the difference of the composition of the population of both countries and the institutional makeup played an important role in the outcomes of the revolution. While the Young Turk Revolution gave priority to the global discourse of constitutionalism and negotiated it with regional and local cultural notions, the Iranian revolution began its negotiation from the bottom up, meaning from monarchic and religious-centered notions of justice (367).