Conducts research and collects data on the global history of labour, workers, and labour relations

Authoritarian Modernization in Turkey and Iran

19 September 2003 to 20 September 2003

The Triumphs and Travails of Authoritarian Modernisation in Turkey and Iran
Twentieth-Century History from Below


The practice of authoritarian modernisation in post-First World War Turkey and Iran was embedded in the perceived failure of earlier attempts to introduce modernisation both from below as well as from above in these two neighbouring countries. After all, the efforts of nineteenth-century and early-twentieth-century reformers had not protected these countries either from the separatism of minorities or from occupation by European powers.
The setback that the Iranian Constitutional Movement (1905-1911) suffered in the years before the outbreak of the First World War; the political disintegration and partial occupation of Persia during the war; the traumatic loss of the European provinces of the Ottoman Empire in the Balkan War and its subsequent defeat in World War I; the threat of imminent disintegration after the war: all of these left the middle classes and the intelligentsia in these countries no other option than to look for a man of order, who, as an agent of the nation, would install a centralised, powerful (though not necessarily despotic) government capable of solving the country's growing problems of underdevelopment, while at the same time safeguarding the nation's unity and sovereignty.

In the spring of 1999 the International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam organised a workshop on 'Authoritarian Modernisation in Turkey and Iran', where participants examined the modernisation process in Turkey and Iran from 'above', i.e. from the perspective of the state and its elites. This second workshop attempted to study the process of modernisation in these countries from 'below', i.e. how modernisation was assumed in Turkey and Iran.

Scholars and researchers from Iran, Turkey, the Netherlands, the United States, Great Britain, Greece and France took part in this workshop. Concurrently, the IISH organized an exhibition on Turkish and Iranian posters and publications regarding the history of urban guerrilla groups of the 1960's.


Nilüfer Göle (Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris)
Public Space in Iran and in Turkey From a Comparative Perspective

Stephanie Cronin (School of Oriental and African Studies, London)
Subalterns and Social Protest: The Urban Crowd and the Rural Poor in Early Modern Iran

Afsaneh Najmabadi (Harvard University)
Authority and Agency: Re-visiting Women's Activism during Reza Shah's Period

Nicole van Os (Bilgi University, Istanbul)
Kumaya Gitmek: Polygamy Before and After the Introduction of the Swiss Civil Code in Turkey

Morad Saqafi (Goft-o-Gu Journal, Tehran)
From 'Interest of the Prince', to the 'Art of Government'. The 19th Century Forgotten Iranian Modernity

Asım Karaomerlioğlu (Boğaziçi University, Istanbul)
Turkey's Transition to a Multi-Party Regime: A Social Interpretation

Kaveh Bayat (Shirazeh Publisher, Tehran)
With or Without Workers in Reza Shah's Iran: Abadan May 1929

Vangelis Kechriotis (Boğaziçi University, Istanbul)
The Modernisation of the Empire and the 'National Privileges': Greek Responses to the Young Turks policies

Umut Azak (Leiden University)
Commemorating 'Kubilay, the Martyr of Revolution': Icons of the Secularist Ideology in Turkey

Hülya Küçük (Selçuk University, Konya)
Sufi Reactions Against the Reforms after Turkey's National Struggle: How a Nightingale Turned into a Crow

Touraj Atabaki (International Institute of Social History)
Time, Labour-Discipline and Modernisation in Turkey and Iran