The Sacred Republic

Power and Institutions in Iran

Edited by Part of the Iran from the Pahlavis to the Present series
May 2023 9781787389519 400pp
Available as an eBook Available from Oxford Scholarship Online
EU Customers


This book presents a comprehensive, detailed analysis of the establishment, evolution and current significance of different institutions in today’s Islamic Republic of Iran. The volume draws on the insights of a number of Iran experts to examine their establishment, functions and evolution, as a means of understanding Iranian politics and society.

The Sacred Republic‘s specific focus is on the key formal institutions of the state through which the Islamic Republic exercises power, namely the velayat-e faqih: the judiciary, the presidency, the parliament, elections, the Revolutionary Guards, and the foreign policy establishment. Despite significant work on Iranian politics in recent decades, few studies have focused on state institutions, their resilience, or the reasons for and manner of institutional change. Through historical institutionalism and comparative historical analysis, the contributors to this book together fill a glaring gap in the study of Iran’s political institutions, offering significant insights for the theoretical literature on comparative politics, Middle Eastern politics, and Iranian Studies.


‘An outstanding collection of studies by first-rate scholars, and a must-read for anyone who wants to unpack the political life of the Islamic Republic. Well-written and engaging, each chapter offers unique insights into how today’s Iran is governed.’ — Alex Vatanka, Director of the Iran Program, Middle East Institute

‘Focusing on a thus far rather neglected topic, Mehran Kamrava has brought together an impressive array of experts and this magnificent book represents the best scholarship in a new and important field.’ — Stephanie Cronin, Elahé Omidyar Mir-Djalali Research Fellow, University of Oxford

‘This important volume ably deciphers how the interplay of elite fragmentation, political participation and external pressure has shaped the increasing tilt toward centralisation of power in post-revolution Iran.’ — Farideh Farhi, Independent Scholar

‘Delving into the origins and dynamics of the Islamic Republic’s complex constellation of state institutions, this is required reading for students and specialists of not just Iranian and area studies, but also revolution, state-building and institutionalism more broadly.’ — Eric Lob, Associate Professor of Politics and International Relations, Florida International University


Mehran Kamrava is Professor of Government at Georgetown University in Qatar, and Director of the Iranian Studies Unit at the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies. His books on Iranian and Middle Eastern affairs include Inside the Arab State and Triumph and Despair, both published by Hurst.  

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