Patching Together a Fragmented Provincial Geography with Guns and Oil

Credit: Kaveh Ehsani, Leiden University
From “The social history of labor in the Iranian oil industry : the built environment and the making of the industrial working class (1908-1941)”


In 1924 the Prime Minister Reza Khan visited APOC installations at Abadan and the Fields and was received formally and with eager hospitality by the APOC

management. The event carried remarkable symbolism as the first visit to the province by an Iranian head of state in centuries[5]. Khuzestan, known from the 16th century as ‘Arabistan’, had become virtually autonomous from the rest of the country during the turbulent previous centuries[6]. The visit had even greater practical significance: Reza Khan had accompanied the army to Khuzestan to subjugate Sheikh Khaz’al’s autonomous rule. The British Government had tried to dissuade him by attempting mediation and issuing threats, to no avail (chapter 2). The previous year autonomous southern tribes had attempted to forge a “Southern Confederate Alliance” to collectively resist the central government’s pending incursions; but their effort fell apart amidst rivalries and discord, partly fueled by Reza Khan playing them against each other. The Army took a month to arrive. Once there, the balance of power shifted permanently (see chapters 2,3,5). Sheikh Khaz’al submitted and offered to pay his arrear taxes, the formal bone of contention with the central government. But he was arrested and deported a few months later, and his authority in the province, the linchpin of a confederate system of tribal alliances, was replaced by that of a Military Governor and appointed central government bureaucrats[7].

Soon after these events a growing flood of appointed government officials and administrators began to arrive. Ahmad Kasravi, the prominent nationalist intellectual, was one of these officials who had been appointed earlier in 1923 to head the new judicial administration in Ahvaz, now designated as the new provincial capital. As had others before him, such as Najm al-Molk in the 19h century (Chapter2), Kasravi arrived from Tehran by a circuitous and long journey through Baghdad and sailing down the Tigris, taking weeks to arrive at his post[8]. For Kasravi the experience was like travelling to a foreign and exotic land over a hazardous route. Until the mid 1920s a trip by horse from Abadan to Tehran took approximately four weeks, effectively longer and considerably more dangerous than a sea voyage to London[9]. However, things were about to change with remarkable speed.
Iran had a vast and rugged territory, with few established roads fit for carriage transport, let alone modern vehicles. Historically, camel and mule caravans had replaced wheeled transport since pre-Islamic times, and especially the mountain access routes to Khuzestan were difficult and hazardous in the extreme[10]. In the first quarter of the 20th Century, with all the political uncertainty and acute hardships plaguing the country, maintaining the transport and communication networks had become even more challenging[11].
This fragmented geography also characterized the province itself. Arnold Wilson who was in Mohammareh around 1910 as acting Consul remarked “Sixty years ago or so there was regular traffic from Dizful to Hamadan and Central Persia. Now tribal feuds have made traffic impossible”[12]. Prior to APOC building a Company railroad connecting Masjed Soleyman to Abadan and Mohammareh the 130 km journey to the oil fields could take up to five days, especially in bad weather. Once completed the narrow gage Company railroad reduced this to one day[13]. Motorcars further accelerated this spatial integration drastically, with profound social consequences, as we shall see. Prior to WWI motor transport were a luxury and a novelty (See Chapter 4). Arnold Wilson, who was from a middle class background and a colonial officer in the service of the Government of India in southern Iran, first experienced riding a motorcar in 1910 in an APOC owned vehicle on a visit Masjid Soleyman[14]. For different reasons both the British as well as the southern tribes viewed paved roads, and especially railroads, with considerable apprehension until the mid 1920s (See chapter 2)[15]
Wilson who surveyed and mapped the western regions of Iran for selecting
alternative railroads routes saw the situation thus: “Russia wants a trans-Persian railroad to India (bad for Persia and for India); Britain wants railroads from the Gulf to the interior, but nowhere near Russia…Having the oilfields in British hands, it is incumbent on us not to allow them to be imperiled by a Russian southward push by means of a Russian controlled railway and Russian trade”.
In a 1913 conversation with a Lur Clan Headman with whom he was staying overnight during his survey, Wilson was told that the tribes appreciated the benefits of roads and railways, but what they feared was the increasing power of cities, the bureaucracy, and the state:
“A railway through Luristan would increase the power of the Central Government in SW. Persia to levy taxes, which would be spent elsewhere, mainly in the Capital, by men with no interest whatsoever in the welfare or interests of the people of SW. Persia”[16].
As the tribes saw it Railways brought security, but only for the cities. Despite his own prescient misgivings Wilson insured his host that the security brought by railroads would not be at the expense of the tribes, but by the improvements in general welfare that would accompany them. In hindsight his host was probably more clear-sighted than the colonial officer.
Britain doggedly tried to control the financing and construction of the Iranian transnational railway to make sure the project remained tied to its own strategic interests, especially now that Tsarist threat had been replaced by what she saw as the more insidious Soviet menace. During the major APOC re-organization of 1926 Percy Loraine the Minister in Tehran, Cadman the APOC chairman, Chamberlain the Foreign Secretary, and his assistant Lancelot Oliphant, did their best to coordinate their efforts to prevent the independent railway schemes that were being prepared by Tehran[17]. The construction of the transnational railroad had become an obsession with Iranian nationalists who perceived it as the golden solution for overcoming chronic ‘backwardness’. These nationalists understood the persistent objections and
interferences by the Great Powers since the end of the 19 century against successive attempts to fund and build a national railroad as a conspiracy that ought to be overcome at all costs if Iran were to become a modern and prosperous nation[18].
In 1925 Britain had been alarmed by a law passed by the Majles to impose a special consumer tax on sugar and tea in order to finance the national railroad construction (chapter 2). Loraine was concerned that if this were to happen the Iranian government would no longer be dependent on British loans or oil royalties, and could employ American firms and engineers instead to help it with the scheme[19]. They asked Cadman to delay negotiations over a new concession, and to, “Tie the oil renegotiations to the railway scheme. Iran will become dependent as no one will build railroads in Iran without full measure of security on capital, nor will railroads produce enough income ever for working expenses for the first ten years…The Government will have to subsidize the railroads directly…They will have no choice but to come to us then”[20].
However, the drastic events in Khuzestan had changed all these calculations, as we saw in chapter 2, and once Sheikh Khaz’al was ousted the British Government and APOC had little option but to throw in their lot with Reza Shah.
The consequences of the new alliance between the Oil Company and the army, and the game-changing impact of new modes of transportation and communication, became evident almost immediately. In July 1925, shortly after Khaz’al exile, Arab tribes of southwest Khuzestan rose in revolt, and attacked Mohammareh. In a stunning change of strategy the Oil Company made its transport vehicles available to carry army troops from Ahvaz to crush the revolt of its erstwhile allies (chapter 6). Arnold Wilson, now the Company Manager at Mohammareh, called on gunships and Indian troops from Basra for help, but their intervention proved unnecessary[21]. Modern vehicle transport provided by APOC and fueled by Abadan refinery products had aided the new Iranian army to eliminate quickly and effectively the threat of Arab tribes who had been guarding the oil industry until a few months before. A new uneasy alliance had been sealed. From now the Oil Company together with the State, its army, its bureaucratic institutions, and its national laws, would continue together the project of reshaping the geography of the province, and of regulating the lives of its people in order to pave the way for the effective operation of oil capitalism and the consolidation of an integrated nation state.

The 1925 Arab revolt was the first of many subsequent tribal insurgencies that challenged the new political order in the coming years. By late 1920s Reza Shah began a major project of coercive resettlement of the pastoral tribes, who comprised a quarter of the total population of the country. The immediate cause of the 1925 Arab tribal revolt was the abuses they had suffered from army troops who had been confiscating grain, foodstuff, and pack animals (see chapter 6). The year 1925 was especially difficult for the local population: there was severe drought and famine across the country; in Khuzestan the acting military governor who had replaced Sartip (Colonel) Zahedi was suspected by the Oil Company of having communist sympathies; and his troops had been confiscating pack animals to facilitate food imports from Iraq and provisioning the army[22]. It was an explosive mélange. In the fragile agrarian pastoralist economies of the region mules, horses, sheep, water buffalo, pack animals, and grain, could make the difference between life and death, and between relative affluence and high status versus destitution:
“[Horses and] Mares are the most valuable commodity of an Arab. They’ll deprive themselves of food to keep hold of them. Mares are bought and sold in peculiar ways, seldom is the whole animal bought by a single keeper. Each buys one or more legs. The one who owns the forelegs stables, feeds, and exercises her”[23].
However, the more deep-rooted cause of the revolt was the collapse of the social-political order that had been personified in the position of Sheikh Khaz’al and his court. While the revolt was crushed in Mohammareh and Abadan remained relatively calm; “Inland, however, the unrest among the Arabs continued due partly to their resentment of the Persian troops’ behavior and partly because they had in many cases been deprived of all tribal authority”[24] [my emphasis].
Inevitably, the vacuum created by the elimination of the existing social and political order and the demise of the role of the local magnates began to be filled by the State and the Oil Company, through a highly fractious relationship where the boundaries of sovereignty of each were to be relentlessly contested in the coming years. In the footsteps of the army and bureaucrats came national laws and regulations, conscription, roads, the railroad, the national currency, as well as a growing stream of people hoping to make a living working for the oil industry or on its margins. Growing motorcar transport, increasingly fueled by petrol produced in Abadan, and distributed by APOC through a nationwide supply network[25], played a vital role in forcing through this geographic integration[26]. With a paved road linking Masjed Soleyman to the rest of the province, followed by more feeder roads extending into the highlands and the countryside, the historical advantage of their geographic isolation as part of their strategic defense and autonomy rapidly disappeared for the Bakhtiyaris in the highlands of Zagros. In the interwar years the expanding road network transformed the oil industry itself by allowing it to spread out beyond its originally limited scale (see Figure 1).
Motorcars allowed the rapid transportation of heavy equipment and manpower, and significantly facilitated the Company’s exploration and extraction activities in previously inaccessible locales. They opened new feeder roads and made possible the rapid repair and constant monitoring of pipelines, as well as the fast expanding communication and transportation grid. During WWI, in 1915-1916, the pipeline sabotage by the Germans and their tribal allies had taken three months to repair. Now it could be done in days. By the end of 1920s, shortly after Kasravi had arrived in Ahvaz via a long and difficult journey, regular motorcar travel became possible, with the trip from Tehran to Khuzestan taking two days to complete in good weather. APOC assisted in the road-building project, by contributing to the construction of the northbound Dezful–Khorramabad road through the notoriously unsafe Luristan highlands. The Company provided help in surveying and mapping the route, and made cost estimates for the project. It also began supplying subsidized petrol products to the construction project, and for provisioning the market in the rest of the country[27].

Map 4: Khuzestan Inbound and Outbound Geographic Link 28
Map 4: Khuzestan Inbound and Outbound Geographic Link [ 28]

These new geographic developments facilitated the mass movement of troops, as well as bureaucrats, official visitors, entrepreneurs, and migrant workers to the province. Before this period the geography of oil in Khuzestan had been limited to a linear corridor formed around the two nodes of crude oil extraction in Masjed Soleyman in the north, linked via pipeline transport southward to be refined at Abadan, and from there exported by tankers via the river Shatt al Arab. Now, however, thanks to the new networks of road transportation, the refinery at Abadan began supplying various petroleum products in reverse direction, northward to Masjed Soleyman and Ahvaz, and soon to the rest of the country[29]. The change affected material production as well, as domestic demand grew fast for products such as tar and bitumen for paving roads, lubricants and petrol for engines, and Kerosene for generators and lighting. These products began to be packaged and distributed for the expanding internal market from 1930s.
Equally significant, motorcars allowed the horizontal spread of the oil networks within the province: Car transport facilitated the discovery and exploitation of alternative fields – such as Haftgel, Gachsaran, Lali, and Aghajari – in remote locations where extending the Company railroad would have been impractical and uneconomical. Soon the idea of developing alternative deep-sea ports on the coast of the Persian Gulf began to be considered as the solution for allowing the berthing of larger tankers, and of avoiding the problems that plagued Abadan and Khorramshahr (as Mohammareh had been renamed). Foremost among these problems was the ongoing river boundary disputes with Iraq, and the logistical difficulty of the constant dredging of the heavily silted Shatt al Arab. Eventually, the pristine lagoons of Khor Mousa and the nearby tiny port of Ma’shour were selected and a new seaport began to be built there; although the idea of building a new refinery there to handle the production of Aghajari was ultimately abandoned in favor of an underwater pipeline to the Kharq Island[30].
It is important to emphasize, again, that the path was opened for motorcars, the railroad, and the military-bureaucratic integration of Khuzestan into a nation-state framework only after the existing social and political structures had been subjugated and dismantled, and collective pastoral and tribal territories had been enclosed. Along with this new geography came the process of increasing commoditization of everyday life, including labor and its reproduction (housing, food, transportation, etc.). The process also opened the gates for the significant movement of population to
Khuzestan, and the expansion of a significant wage labor market in its urban areas. The increasing integration of the province into national politics and market relations had created a situation where global trends and national policies began to quickly and directly affect all aspects of life.
The Great Depression of 1929 and the coercive and military settlement of pastoral tribes by the central government that began in 1928 and accelerated throughout the 1930s contributed to the growing army of the unemployed. But in southern and western Iran, this trend was briefly offset by the intense demand for labor during the construction of the transnational Iranian Railways. However, once the railroad had been completed in 1938 a new wave of mass unemployment ensued, especially in the western regions. The import-substitution-industrialization policies that the central government had launched in the 1930s (see the next section) momentarily alleviated this crisis; but the military occupation of the country during the WW2 once again imposed great hardships on a population that was ill equipped to absorb it. The occupying Allies used the recently developed infrastructures of the oil industry, the transport networks of new roads and railways, and the abundant and destitute cheap manpower, to supply the Soviet Union and shore up the Eastern Front. The occupation caused severe wartime hardships, especially in the south and the west due to military food requisitions and the labor drafts that undermined subsistence agriculture and food production. These developments contributed to a trend where the draw of the labor market and the urban economies of Khuzestan’s oil cities became often the only hope of economic survival for the growing throngs of migrants who began to flood the province[31].

Table 7 shows the demographic trends over the period under discussion. It should be noted that no official census data exists until 1956. The figures are compiled from various sources, and some are at best intelligent estimates based on scanty and scattered sources available. Despite its sketchiness the table reveals several important trends: The expansion of oil cities, particularly Abadan, had accelerated significantly prior to the completion of the Railroads in late 1930s, due to the increasing availability of relatively cheap bus transport[32]. But the subsequent growth after the occupation in 1941 becomes truly noticeable.

Table 7: Estimated Population of Khuzestan and Selected Cities (000)

Sources: Compiled from Adamec (1976): 5; Ansari (1974); Author’s estimates; Bamberg (1994); Ferrier (1982): 276; ILO (1950): 131; Iran National Census (1956); Issawi (1971); Lorimer (1986); Neligan (1926); Seccombe & Lawless (1987): 32; Seccombe & Lawless (1993): 191, 193, 194; Shahnavaz (2005); Vieille, (1964, 1969)
Sources: Compiled from Adamec (1976): 5; Ansari (1974); Author’s estimates; Bamberg (1994); Ferrier (1982): 276; ILO (1950): 131; Iran National Census (1956); Issawi (1971); Lorimer (1986); Neligan (1926); Seccombe & Lawless (1987): 32; Seccombe & Lawless (1993): 191, 193, 194; Shahnavaz (2005); Vieille, (1964, 1969)

In the interwar years Khuzestan was transformed from one the most sparsely populated and rural provinces of Iran, where prior to WWI at most 10 percent of the population lived in urban areas, to one of its most urbanized, with 40 percent of a much larger population living in what were now urban areas[33] (see table 1). Most of this urban growth took place in oil cities, primarily Abadan and Masjed Soleyman; as well as in Ahvaz, which became both one of the headquarters for AIOC operations as well as the new seat of provincial government in 1926. The extent to which the oil complex had been one of the main causes of this urbanization and the formation of an industrial labor market can be glimpsed from an ILO report into working conditions in the oil industry, which concluded that Abadan in 1949 had “an estimated population of 173,000, of whom 133,000, or 77 percent were company employees and their dependents. Most of the remaining 44,000 were workers employed by contractors, independent craftsmen and merchants and their families”[34].


Ahvaz in 1932
Ahvaz in 1932

However, the urban impact of the oil industry and state institutions was uneven. Ahvaz, for example, had initially suffered as the commercial steamship transport on Karun, as well as the Lynch Road mule track across Zagros went into permanent decline with the advent of motorized transport. However, the city’s bureaucratization, as well as its location as the hub of the transnational railways compensated for this loss[35]. On the other hand, the historic cities of Khuzestan, in particular Shushtar, Dezful, Ramhormoz, and Behbahan, entered a long period of relative isolation and stagnation[36]; while entirely new urban areas emerged as railroad towns (Andimeshk); ports (Mahshahr, formerly Ma’shur); army garrison towns (Ramshir, formerly Khalafabad); or oil company towns (Haftgel, Aghajari).
Elsewhere, the historic and traditional economies and social relations on which they were based were hard pressed to continue functioning. In the Persian Gulf the pearling industry gradually all but disappeared. Likewise, the ship/boat building industry in Mohammareh/Khorramshahr as well as in Basra were hit hard but did not completely disappear. As the fishing and sea trade were taken over by new motorized vessels, traditional boat builders began fitting their craft with engines, although the construction of larger vessels moved to the coastline of the Persian Gulf. Similarly, the thriving date cultivation and trade along the Shatt al-Arab became subsumed under the new commercial shipping and oil traffic and land speculation that had deeply affected the river coastline[37]. Date groves and small-scale date farming survived in both Mohammareh/Khorramshahr and Abadan, mainly because of a continued demand for the crop as a staple food throughout the Persian Gulf region, although they were pushed to the margins of the local economies, overshadowed by the vast global businesses of oil and transnational shipping. In Abadan, Khorramshahr, and along the fertile coast of Shatt al Arab and Karun, date farming became a ‘traditional’ enclave for indigenous Arabs to hang on to the remaining vestiges of their land and productive activities.
Table 8 reveals that by mid century a substantial share of the population of the new urban centers created by the exigencies of the oil industry and the policies of the central state had been settled in these cities continuously, beyond the first generation. These census figures are by district, and not by urban areas. The districts include the
peri-urban and the rural hinterland of the cities in question. Nevertheless they reveal

Table 8: Migration Patterns by Census District & Birthplace of Migrants
by Province (1956)
(The last 6 rows show the percentage of migrants coming from each cited region)

Source: National Census of Iran (1956)

interesting patterns that had been established after half a century of oil production and national integration in the province. Thus Abadan, the largest city in the province and still the highest receiver of migration to its district, had nearly 60 percent of its population who had been born there. By contrast, Shushtar, the previous historical seat of provincial government, had had virtually no immigration and only 5 percent of its population had been born outside the district. While 42 percent of the population of Abadan had been born elsewhere, the vast majority of these migrants had come from within Khuzestan (24%), or the adjoining provinces in the south of country (60%). Very few were migrating to the oil city from Tehran (the Central Province) or the northern provinces (8% of all migrants).
Although the 1956 census, which was the first nationwide survey of the population, compounded the places of origin, for example Isfahan and Yazd, it should be noted that ‘Isfahan’ had until recently (1954) been the administrative province in control of most of the Bakhtiyari highlands of Zagros. Likewise, the adjoining tribal pastoralist regions of Kohkilouyeh and Mamsani had been administratively considered as part of the province of ‘Fars’, as were the Dashtestan districts of Bushsher and the northern coast of the Persian Gulf. Consequently, we can surmise that the high rate of migration from these southern regions of the country adjoining the province of Khuzestan and from within the province itself to the oil cities of Abadan and Masjed Soleyman, to the port of Khorramshahr, and the administrative center Ahvaz, indicated the flow of labor power from the pastoralist and agrarian regions with close historic economic and geographic ties to southwest Khuzestan to the established wage labor markets and urban economies of these oil cities.

Source: Melamid (1959): 209

Table 7 reveals a relatively similar pattern for those employed in the oil industry during the same period. The figures demonstrate the consolidation of labor by the oil industry within the region, together with a continued “pull factor” from the adjoining pastoralist and agrarian regions of the south. By the mid twentieth century industrial labor in the oil complex, and the accompanied urbanization in the built environment of oil, had become an established reality in Khuzestan and throughout southern Iran.


Notes & References:

5. Reza Khan was Prime Minister at the time. But Ahmad Shah had left the country for Europe, never to return, and the Majles was in debate over whether to declare Iran a republic, as in Turkey. For all practical purposes Reza Khan was already the head of state. The last such visit had occurred in the 18th century, when Karim Khan Zand had made an attempt to integrate the province more thoroughly into his nascent but shortlived state. See John R. Perry, Karim Khan Zand (Oxford: Oneworld, 2006), 68– 74; Kasravi, Tarikh-e Pansad Saleh Khouzestan.

6. Kasravi, Tarikh-e Pansad Saleh Khouzestan; Curzon, Persia and the Persian Question, Vol.2, 268– 386.
7 See Ansari, “History of Khuzistan,” 323–357; Lockhart, The Record of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, Ltd., 14–17.

8. Ahmad Kasravi, Zendegani-e Man: Dah Sal dar ʻAdliyeh; va Chera az ʻAdliyeh Birun Amadam (Tehran: N/P, 1944); Haj Mirzâ Abd-al Ghaffar Najm-al Molk, Safarnameh Khuzestan beh Zamimeh Ketabcheh Dastour-e Ma’muriat-e Khouzestan va Gozaresh-e Barresiha-ye Ân Saman (Tehran: Anjoman-e Asar va Mafakher-e Farhangi, 1962); Abd-al Ghaffâr ibn-e Ali Mohammad Najm-al Dowleh, Safarnameh Dovvom-e Najm-al Dowleh be Khouzestan; beh Peyvast-e Ketabcheh-ye Dastour-al Amal-e Nasser-al Din Shah dar Khosous-e Safar-e Aval beh Khouzestan (Tehran: Institute for Humanities and Cultural Studies, 2007)

9. Alexander Melamid, “The Geographical Patterns of Iranian Oil Development,” Economic Geography 35, no. 3 (1959): 203.

10. Richard Bulliet, The Camel and the Wheel (New York: Columbia University Press, 1990); Kaveh Ehsani, “Ideh,” Encyclopaedia Iranica (Indiana: Encyclopeadia Iranica Foundation, 2008),

11. See detailed personal recollections of Arnold Wilson for this period in Arnold T Wilson, SW Persia; A Political Officer’s Diary 1907-1914 (London: Oxford University Press, 1941), 39–42, 72–78, 162– 177, 262.

12. Ibid. 162

13. Melamid, “The Geographical Patterns of Iranian Oil Development,” 202; Wilson, SW Persia; A Political Officer’s Diary 1907-1914, 78.

14. John Marlowe, Late Victorian: The Life of Sir Arnold Talbot Wilson (London: Cresset, 1967), 62. 15 Ibid., 72.

15. Ibid., 72.
16. Wilson, SW Persia; A Political Officer’s Diary 1907-1914, 206, 131–132, 246–248, 227.

17. See several letters from Lancelot Oliphant to John Cadman in February 1926 to apply pressure on Reza Shah during his upcoming visit for the coronation. “Dossier 1: Correspondence with Foreign Office Relating to Visit to Tehran”, BP 71183

18. Ehsani, “Tabar Shenasi-e Tarh-ha-ye Bozorg-e Tose’eh dar Iran-e Mo’aser. I intend to write about the social history of the railroads in Iran at a different occasion. Here I am merely sketching the relevant parts for our current story.

19. “Loraine, British Legation in Tehran, to Chamberlain, Foreign Secretary, London”, 14 January 1926, Dossier 1: Correspondence with Foreign Office Relating to Visit to Tehran, BP 71183

20. “Loraine to Cadman” 18 February 1926, BP 71183. The British preferred an East West route to connect Mesopotamia and India, both their territories. In the case of a North South route they wanted the construction to begin from the Persian Gulf, and end at Tehran, staying well away from Soviet borders. The central government, on the other hand wanted a north-south line, uneconomical as the chosen route may be, to immediately connect the capital with the oil areas in Khuzestan. A more economic choice would have been a main line connecting the country’s largest cities, Tabriz, Tehran, Isfahan, Shiraz, with the largest open ports on the Persian Gulf, either Bushehr or Bandar Abbas. As it were, the construction proceeded and the railroad was completed by 1938. It was a great feat of engineering, built at great cost and hardship for ordinary people. Ironically, the greatest beneficiaries of the project were the Allies who occupied Iran in 1941, deposed Reza Shah, and used the railroad to supply the Soviet Union on the Eastern Front. See Ehsani, “Tabar Shenasi-e Tarh ha-ye Bozorg-e Tose’eh”; Clawson, “Knitting Iran Together: The Land Transport Revolution 1920-40”; Steen Andersen, “Building for the Shah: Market Entry, Political Reality and Risks on the Iranian Market, 1933–1939,” Enterprise & Society 9, no. 4 (2008): 637–69; Cronin, The Making of Modern Iran: State and Society Under Riza Shah, 1921-41; Melamid, “The Geographical Patterns of Iranian Oil Development,” 211–214.

21. Lockhart, The Record of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, Ltd., 70; Kazem Pourkazem, Naqsh-e Ashayer-e Arab-e Khouzestan dar Jahad Aleyhe Este’mar (Tehran: Ammeh, 1996), 156–157.

22. Persia, Annual Report 1925, Burrell, IPD, Vol.7, 384.

23. Sykes, Through Persia on a Side Saddle, 275.

24. Lockhart, The Record of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, Ltd., 70.

25. The issue of supplying subsidized motor fuel for the northern Iranian market, and establishing a nationwide supply network were one of the major bones of contention in negotiations between APOC and the central government in the 1933 agreement. See Mostafa Elm, Oil, Power, and Principle (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1992).

26. Alexander Melamid, “Petroleum Product Distribution and the Evolution of Economic Regions in Iran,” Geographical Review 65, no. 4 (October 1, 1975): 510–25.

28. Source: Melamid (1959): 204-205

29. Melamid, “The Geographical Patterns of Iranian Oil Development,” 208; Fathollah Sa’adat,
Jughrafiya-ye Eqtesadi-e Naft-e Iran, 2 vols. (Tehran: Pars Publishers, 1967).

30. N/A, “Banader-e Jonoub,” Taqadom, no. 3,4,7,8 (1927-1928); Melamid, “Petroleum Product Distribution and the Evolution of Economic Regions in Iran”; Melamid, “The Geographical Patterns of Iranian Oil Development”; Shakiba, Negahi beh Tarikh-e Mahshahr; Yousefi, Tarikh-e Khorramshahr; Emam Shushtari, Tarikh-e Joghrafiyayi-e Khuzestan; Jalal Al-e Ahmad, Jazireh Khark, Dorr-e Yatime Khalij (Tehran: Amir Kabir, 1960).

31. Atabaki and Ehsani, “Shifting Governmentality in the Shadow of Labor Activism: Revisiting the Roots and Impact of the 1929 Abadan Oil Workers’ Strike.”

32. Melamid, “The Geographical Patterns of Iranian Oil Development,” 209.
33 Lawless and Seccombe, “Impact of Oil Industry on Urbanization in the Persian Gulf Region.”

34. ILO, Labor Conditions in the Oil Industry in Iran (Geneva: International Labor Office, 1950), 31.

35. Paul Vieille, La Féodalité et l’Etat en Iran (Paris: Anthropos, 1975).

36. Ehsani, “Urban Provincial Periphery in Iran: Revolution and War in Ramhormoz.” Dezful in the 1960s became the center of major international agribusiness and hydropower development, and large scale government experimentations in authoritarian regional planning. A major military airbase was also built in its vicinity.

37. On the vibrant date trade of Basra and Mohammareh see Visser, “The Gibraltar That Never Was”; Ansari, “History of Khuzistan”; Lambton, Landlord and Peasant in Persia; Sykes, Through Persia on a Side Saddle, 267.




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