The power of silence: rethinking Iranian Jews’ power relations during the Qajar dynasty

Alessandra Cecolin* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The status of the Jews of Iran during the Qajar dynasty, mutated, because of being a minority among the Shiite dominant group and adjusted itself through the processes of annexation within Iranian society. Iranian Jews engaged in power relations with two main groups: European envoys and representatives of the Qajar dynasty. The ability to endure in the changing political environment of Iran as a religious minority was facilitated by the strategic dimension of silence that was used as a medium in establishing power relations with dominant elites within the Iranian society. This paper aims to use the practice of silence as a theoretical framework to understand how Iranian Jewry, between the end of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, managed to preserve their Judaic practices in Iran despite being a religious minority. Silence operated as being both an instrument for leading groups to control them through the practice of ‘silencing’ them, and as a way used by Iranian Jews themselves to resist and escape possible persecutions and social control by the dominant elites. Silence both in its oppressive and resistance forms acted to create a dynamic relationship between Iranian Jews and dominant elites working in Iran.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
JournalBritish Journal of Middle Eastern Studies
Early online date24 Jun 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Jun 2022


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