Iran in the 19th Century Global Economy

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University of Toronto
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Jennifer Jenkins is Associate Professor of German and European History at the University of Toronto, where she holds a Canada Research Chair in Modern German History. She is the author of Provincial Modernity: Local Culture and Liberal Politics in Fin-de-Siecle Hamburg (Cornell University Press, 2003) and writes on modernism, civil society, transnationalism, orientalism and imperialism in twentieth-century Germany. She is currently working on her book project Excavating Zarathustra: Germany and Iran in the Twentieth Century, an Exploration of German Globality on the Persian Frontier in the Age of Empire.



This paper explores German economic involvement in Iran at the end of the nineteenth century by investigating Germany as a global aspirant and Iran as an emerging global zone. In the twilight of its decline under the Qajar shahs, Iran's sovereignty was encroached upon, its territory threatened and its economy given out in generous concessions to the European powers, who in turn handed it over to private interests: banks, mining consortia, the emerging oil industry. This paper argues that the process of Iran's carving up and hollowing out at the hands of European governments and private businesses—its economic and political subjugation when not its outright colonization--belonged to the emerging global economy; it was one of its defining factors.

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