This panel was compiled by the Conference Program Team from independently submitted paper proposals
Ayatullah Khumayni's (1902-1989) now infamous epithet for the United States, *shaytan-i buzurg* (The Great Satan), can be construed as a master or gateway signifier in terms of its evocative power. It is a nodal point that captures within its seams the multifarious schemas, attitudes and strategies animating most--if not all--of Iran's post-revolutionary international relations. Several scholars (Amanat 2009, Beeman 2005, Milani, 2010) have provided different vantage points regarding the conceptual structure of the term, but there has yet to be a study exclusively focusing on it from the perspective of intellectual historiography. In this paper, I analyze one moment in the multi-layered and protracted development of a modern Iranian demonology, one in which *shaytan-i buzurg* can be observed and properly analyzed. Sadiq Hidayat (1903-1951), a prominent modern Iranian author, is arguably the most conscious appraiser of the contortions within the inner world of Iranian demonology during the first Pahlavi period (1921-1941). Here, demonism’s linkage with Nature is affirmed through the psychoanalytic interest in libidinal economy and unconscious drives. A relatively complex relationship emerges between inner and outer demons through the functioning of projections and displacements. While there are quite a few instances when suicide is evoked as a way to undermine or disburden oneself of the constant pulsations that mark the demonic in Hidayat’s literature, also present is the alluring, tantalizing, but inscrutable anthropoidal layer of Nature that repeatedly draws the attention of narrators. Even Nature itself is present at times as an eerie but warm calling that is capable of relieving subjects of the pain that it itself initially engendered. The decision to heed this call is one that the early-Pahlavi state never fully committed to, nor did anyone else within literate culture for that matter. In taking a step towards the call of Nature, Hidayat both fulfilled the demonological logic of the age and brought it to a close. This study is less about Hidayat and more about how a modern variant of Iranian demonology was expressed through his writings, one that both maintained and undermined the demonological currents inherent
in and sustained by the Zoroastrian and Perso-Islamic traditions.