Stephanie Cronin - Social Histories of Iran

On November 19th the Iran 1400 Project hosted a Spotlighting an Author event with distinguished social historian, Stephanie Cronin of Oxford University. Dr. Cronin discussed her newly-released book, Social Histories of Iran: Modernism and Marginality in the Middle East, which problematizes concepts of modernity in Iran and the broader Middle East with a global comparative perspective. The book investigates the lives of the underclasses of Iranian society in the 19th and 20th centuries and their particular relationship with both socio-economic hierarchies and modernity. A central argument of the book is that modernity was a project conducted by the elite classes of society, especially in the context of Iran. Throughout the Q&A session, Dr. Cronin answered questions on topics ranging from issues surrounding veiling to the history of slavery in Iran and the surrounding region. The event serves not only as a fitting summary of Dr. Cronin’s book but also as a fascinating discussion for anyone interested in the history of Iran in the last century.


You can listen to the audio version of the event on your favorite podcast application.


We are pleased to offer a 20% discount for purchasing the book. Please use SHI2021 as the discount code during the checkout. The discount code is valid through April 2022.

Click here to order.

Book description

Histories of Iran, as of the wider Middle East, have been dominated by the twin narratives of top-down modernization and methodological nationalism. In this book, Stephanie Cronin problematizes both of these narratives. Its attention is firmly fixed on subaltern social groups: the ‘dangerous classes’ and their constructed contrast with the new and avowedly modern bourgeois elite created by the infant Pahlavi state; the hungry poor pitted against the deregulation and globalization of the late nineteenth century Iranian economy; rural criminals of every variety, bandits, smugglers and pirates, and the profoundly ambiguous attitudes towards them of the communities from which they came. In foregrounding these groups, the book also seeks to move beyond a narrow national context, demonstrating, through a series of case-studies, the explanatory power of global, transnational and comparative approaches to the study of the social history of the Middle East.

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