Spring 2013 Seminars


Dr. Kevan Harris: February 6 
Dr. Andrew Cooper: March 6
Dr. Fereydoun Ala: April 12

(Additional dates will follow)


 Dr. Kevan Harris
Department of Near Eastern Studies, Princeton University

Wednesday February 6, 2013 
Military Monolith or Subcontractor State? The Politics of Privatization in the Islamic Republic of Iran


Post-2009 analyses of Iran have stressed the centralizing takeover of the country’s economy by a single institution, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. At the same time, however, Iran’s factionalized political elite uniformly advocate for rapid privatization of state-owned 2 enterprises. Underneath this puzzling contradiction is a complex shift of economic ownership away from the state toward a variety of para-statal organizations including banks, cooperatives, pension funds, foundations, and military-linked contractors. In this talk, based on newly published research drawing from fieldwork and archival data, I will examine how intra-elite conflict and non-elite claims from below have structured the process of privatization in Iran's large public sector. Framed in comparison with privatization outcomes in other middle-income countries, Iran’s subcontractor state is a consequence of the way in which politics and society shaped the form of capitalism that has taken root in the Islamic Republic.



Kevan Harris, a post-doctoral research associate at Princeton University, earned a Ph.D. in Sociology at the Johns Hopkins University in 2012. He was awarded the Social Science Research Council International Dissertation Research Fellowship in 2009–10 to conduct fieldwork in Iran, and was a US Institute of Peace Jennings Randolph Peace Scholar in 2010– 11. His publications include: "The Rise of the Subcontractor State: Politics of Pseudoprivatization in the Islamic Republic of Iran," International Journal of Middle East Studies, forthcoming, February 2013. “The Brokered Exuberance of the Middle Class: An Ethnographic Analysis of Iran’s 2009 Green Movement,” Mobilization: An International Journal, Vol. 17, No. 4 (2012): 435-55. “A Martyrs’ Welfare State and Its Contradictions: Regime Resilience and Limits through the Lens of Social Policy in Iran,” Middle East Authoritarianisms: Governance, Contestation, and Regime Resilience in Syria and Iran, edited by Steven Heydemann and Reinoud Leenders, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press (2013): pp. 61-80. “A Fistful of Tomans,” London Review of Books, Vol. 35, No. 2 (2013): 28-29.



Dr. Andrew Cooper
Department of Near Eastern Studies, Princeton University

Wednesday March 6, 2013
Oil War and the Iranian Revolution


What if any role did the oil markets play in destabilizing Pahlavi-era Iran in the late 1970s? In 1977 the Iranian government suffered an unexpected shortfall in oil revenues when Saudi Arabia broke from its OPEC partners and tried to flood oil markets with cheap crude. Faced with a severe cash crunch, the government of Iran imposed tough austerity measures that weakened the foundations of the Shah’s autocracy. Although Iran’s financial crisis on the eve of the revolution was already well known, its origins have only recently come to light in Dr Cooper’s The Oil Kings. He examines the complex economic, financial and geopolitical calculations that weighed on the governments of oil producers and oil consumers in the 1970s, the role of personal relationships between a few key players, and how and why oil, the same commodity that brought Iran’s Pahlavis and America’s presidents together, ultimately drove them apart.



Andrew Scott Cooper is the author of The Oil Kings: How the United States, Iran and Saudi Arabia Changed the Balance of Power in the Middle East (Simon & Schuster 2011). A graduate of Columbia University and the University of Aberdeen, Dr. Cooper has worked at Human Rights Watch, the United Nations and Columbia University. This year he taught a history course at Victoria University in New Zealand on US-Iran relations from 1941-79. His work has appeared in the Middle East Journal and Tehran Bureau, and reported in media outlets including The New York Times, Washington Post, BBC and Los Angeles Times. Dr Cooper's new book project, the sequel to The Oil Kings, is focused on the Islamic Revolution.



Dr. Fereydoun Ala

Friday April 12, 2013 
The Development of Blood Transfusion in Iran


In Iran, fragmented and unregulated emergency blood services of a sort, were first established early in the 1940s. However, in every case, whether in university, private or government hospitals, blood for transfusion was purchased through shady dealers, from professional donors drawn from the dregs of society, who were often anaemic, drug‐addicted and sick.

In the early 1970s, in response to growing national needs, a National Iranian Blood Transfusion Service (NIBTS) was established by decree, with the aim of regulating and centralizing transfusion science and medicine; persuading and recruiting the urban public to donate their blood voluntarily, and replacing the prevailing dangerous practices and rampant commercialism, with safe blood, altruism, modern technology and science.

By the eve of the Islamic Revolution in 1979, the NIBTS had already exceeded its aims and aspirations, to become the most advanced, well‐developed Services in the Region, based entirely upon voluntary, non‐remunerated blood donation.



Dr. Fereydoun Ala received his AB from Harvard, 1953; MB CHB from Edinburgh University Medical School; MRCP, Member of the Royal College of Physicians (Internal Medicine & Haematology), 1963; FRCP, Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, 1970; FRCPath, Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists, 1991.

He served as Director of the National Blood Service, West Midlands Region; Honorary Senior Lecturer and Consultant in Haematology at Birmingham University Medical Faculty; Councilor, International Society for Blood Transfusion (Retired); Currently Honorary President of the Iranian Comprehensive Haemophilia Care Centre in Tehran.

He also served as the Founding Director of the Tehran University Clinical Haematology Department, Pahlavi Hospital, from 1969‐81 where he also served as a member of the teaching faculty; Founder and Director of the National Iranian Blood Transfusion Service from 1973‐81; Founding Director of the Iranian Haemophilia Society and World Federation of Haemophilia Training Centre in Tehran; Medical Secretary, the World Federation of Haemophilia from 1970‐74; WHO Consultant in Transfusion Medicine from 1975—.




To reach the Faculty House:
Enter the Wien Hall Gate on 116th Street between Amsterdam Avenue and Morningside Drive. Walk past Wien Hall, then turn right to the Faculty House.

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