Iranian Studies Lecture | Homa Katouzian: The Short-Term Society: A Comparative Study of the Problems of Long-Term Political and Economic Development in Iran

On the afternoon of November 23rd, 2020, Dr. Homa Katouzian, well-recognized scholar in the studies of Iranian political and economic history at Oxford University, shared an online lecture on the theme of “The Short-Term Society: A Comparative Study of the Problems of Long-Term Political and Economic Development in Iran” with doctorate candidates at Institute of International and Area Studies, Tsinghua University (IIAS-THU) and scholars from IIAS and beyond. Dr. Liu Lanyu, Research Assistant Professor at IIAS, presided over the event.

Dr. Katouzian systematically reviewed the short-term characteristics, causes and consequences of Iranian society. By comparing European society and Iranian society in history, Dr. Katouzian summed up the “short-term characteristics” of Iranian society and the “long-term characteristics” of European society. He pointed out that there are three interrelated problems in Iranian society, including the pre-Islamic period and the post-Islamic period, that is, legitimacy and inheritance, extreme fragility of life and property, and accumulation and development. He also explained why an industrial revolution didn’t occur in Iranian history and why its modern industry hasn’t not developed by leaps and bounds. He concluded that the arbitrary nature of Iranian politics leads to extreme instability in the income and status of landlords and capitalists, so it is difficult for the society to realize long-term capital accumulation and stable industrial investments.

Dr. Homa Katouzian is the Iran Heritage Foundation Research Fellow, St Antony’s College, Oxford University and also an editor and consultant of several Iranian research journals. His research interest includes Iranian economic history, comparative historical sociology and classical and modern Persian literature.

Text by: Liu Lanyu & Zhang Yuan
Edited by: Liu Lanyu