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Homa Katouzian

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Homa Katouzian

Homa Katouzian, PhD (born Homayoun Katouzian, Persian: محمد علی همايون کاتوزیان ‎, on 17 November 1942 in Tehran) is an economist, historian, political scientist and literary critic, with a special interest in Iranian studies.[1] Katouzian’s formal academic training was in economics and the social sciences but he concurrently continued his studies of Persian history and literature at a professional academic level. He began studying the life and works of the modern Persian writer, Sadeq Hedayat, and that of the Prime Minister of Iran in the early 1950s, Mohammad Mosaddeq, while still a faculty member in the department of economics at the University of Kent at Canterbury. Having taught economics at universities in Britain and other countries for eighteen years, he took voluntary retirement in 1986 to devote his entire time to Iranian studies. In recent years, he has been teaching and writing on classical Persian literature, in particular the 13th-century poet and writer, Sa‘di. Currently based at the University of Oxford, Katouzian is a member of the Faculty of Oriental Studies and the Iran Heritage Research Fellow at St. Antony's College, where he edits the quarterly Iranian Studies Journal. He is also a member of the Editorial Board of the Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East.


Katouzian was born in Tehran, Iran. After graduation from Alborz High School and a year at the University of Tehran, in 1961 he went to Britain to study economics. He received his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Birmingham (1967); his Master’s from the University of London (1968); and his PhD from the University of Kent at Canterbury (1984). Between 1968 and 1986, he taught economics in Britain, Iran, Canada and the United States, and also worked as an economic consultant with the Organization of American States, the International Labor Organization, and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). Since 1986, Katouzian has been teaching Persian literature and Iranian history at the University of Oxford and has organized two international conferences: the Hedayat Centenary, at the Middle East Centre, St. Antony’s College, March 2003, and Iran Facing the New Century, at Wadham College, April 2004.

Katouzian has been involved in Iranian cultural and artistic activities in Britain. He is a director of the Thirty Bird Company theatre group and a founding member and member of the Board of Trustees, Library for Iranian Studies, London. He has written for the British press and contributed to BBC radio and television programs.

Contribution to economics

Katouzian has written extensively in pure and applied economics, but his original contributions in economics are in the theory of the development of the service sector, the economics of petroleum-exporting countries, and economic method and philosophy. As early as the late 1960s he predicted that the share of services in output and employment would rapidly grow in advanced countries and in some developing countries, for different sets of reasons, and that the share of non-factor services in international trade would also grow steadily, the advanced countries tending to specialize in the export of services.

Also, he was one of the first economists, from the late 1960s, to describe petroleum revenues received by the petroleum-exporting countries as economic rent, and the countries in question as rentier economies, and studied the effect of the receipt of the petroleum rent by the state on the economics as well as politics of petroleum-exporting countries.

In the field of economic philosophy and method, Katouzian has published a critique of economic method, maintaining that economic theory and theorizing could not be described as scientific, once the economists’ own criteria for scientificity are applied to their works. The subject further involved him in a critique of the philosophies of science developed by Karl Popper and Thomas Kuhn arguing that Popper’s criteria were no longer applied by modern scientists, and that Kuhn’s historical generalizations were largely circular.

Researching modern Iran

Katouzian has taught the history of nineteenth and twentieth century Iran at Oxford University. He has published extensively on twentieth century Iranian history and has been responsible for a number of cases of historical revisionism, for example that the 1921 coup in Iran was not engineered by the British government; that the Anglo-Persian Agreement of 1919 was not intended to turn Iran into a British protectorate; and that the Iranian-Azarbaijani political leader, Sheikh Mohammad Khiyabani was not a separatist, was not pro-Bolshevik and was not opposed to the 1919 agreement.

On Iranian history

Apart from writing descriptive and analytical history, Katouzian has put forward "the theory of arbitrary rule, and the fundamental state-society conflict in Iranian history" which has led him to comparative studies of the sociology of Iranian history with that of Europe. The theory has been described virtually in all of his major writings on Iranian history, but, within a single volume, it is propounded in his Iranian History and Politics, the Dialectic of State and Society (2003). Here, he has also introduced the concept of "the short-term society" or Jameheh-ye Kolangi, literally meaning "the pick-axe society", an allusion to the Iranian practice of demolishing buildings after only a few decades, considering them to be "dilapidated". He has developed and discussed this theory more extensively in the article, "The Short-Term Society, A Study in the Long-Term Problems of Political and Economic Development in Iran", published in Middle Eastern Studies, 40, 1, 2004.

On Persian literature

Katouzian has both taught and written on modern as well as classical Persian literature and has taught modern poetry and fiction at Oxford University. Modern writers he has written about include Sadeq Hedayat, and Mohammad Ali Jamalzadeh, the founder of modern Persian fiction. He has also published on modern poets such as the Poet Laureate Mohammad Taghi Bahar and Iraj Mirza, and modernist poets such as Forough Farrokhzad and Ahmad Shamlou. He has taught classical Persian literature from the 10th century to the 19th century, both in prose and poetry. His special subject is the great Persian classic, Sa‘di, on whom he has published books in Persian and English.

Personal information

Katouzian has a son and a daughter, both living in Oxford.


Books in English

  • Ideology and Method in Economics (cloth and paper), London and New York: Macmillan and New York University Press, 1980.
  • The Political Economy of Modern Iran (cloth and paper), London and New York: Macmillan and New York University Press, 1981.
  • Musaddiq's Memoirs, London : Jebhe, 1988 (the English translation of the memoirs translated (with S. H. Amin) and edited and annotated, together with an 81-page introduction by Homa Katouzian).
  • Musaddiq and the Struggle for Power in Iran, London and New York: I. B. Tauris, second, paperback, edition, 1999; first edition, 1990.
  • Sadeq Hedayat: The Life and Legend of an Iranian Writer, paperback edition, London and New York: I. B. Tauris, 2002; original edition, 1991.
  • State and Society in Iran: The Eclipse of the Qajars and the Rise of the Pahlavis, London and New York: I. B. Tauris, paperback edition, 2006; original edition, 2000.
  • Sa‘di, the Poet of Life, Love and Compassion, Oxford: Oneworld Publishers, 2006.
  • Iranian History and Politics, the Dialectic of State and Society, London and New York: Routledge, paperback edition, 2007 (original edition, 2003).
  • Iran in the 21st Century, co-ed (with Hossein Shahidi), London and New York: Routledge, 2008.
  • Sadeq Hedayat, His Work and His Wondrous World, ed., London and New York: Routledge, 2008.
  • The Persians: Ancient, Mediaeval and Modern Iran, New Haven and London, 2009.

Books in Persian

  • International Economic Theory (an advanced textbook), Tehran: Tehran University Press, 1973.
  • Universities and Higher Education Today (Persian translation of Herbert Butterfield’s book and with a 25-page introduction), second edition, Tehran: Teacher Training University, 1978; first edition, Shiraz: Pahlavi University Press, 1974.
  • Adam Smith and the Wealth of Nations (an abridged translation and with 100-page introduction), Tehran: Amir Kabir, second impression, 2003 (first edition, 1979).
  • The Political Memoirs of Khalil Maleki (Maleki's manuscript, edited and with a 250-page introduction), second edition, Tehran: Enteshar, 1988; first edition, Tehran: Ravaq, 1981.
  • The Political Economy of Modern Iran, trs. M. Nafissi and K. Azizi, together with a long new introduction by the author, Tehran: Nashr-e Markaz, 14th impression, 2008 (second, enlarged, edition 1993; first edition, 1988).
  • Essays in Memory of Khalil Maleki, edited jointly with Amir Pichdad, Tehran: Enteshar, 1991.
  • Sadeq Hedayat, The Life and Legend of an Iranian Writer, translated by Firuzeh Mohajer, second impression, Tehran: Tarh-e Naw, 1998; first edition, 1993.
  • Democracy, Arbitrary Rule and the Popular Movement of Iran, fourth impression, Tehran: Nashr-e Markaz, 2009 (first editions, Nashr-e Markaz. 1993, and London and Washington: Mehregan, 1993).
  • Sadeq Hedayat and the Death of the Author, Tehran: Nashr-e Markaz, fourth impression, 2005; third impression, 2003; second impression, 1997; first edition, 1993.
  • Hedayat's The Blind Owl (a critical monograph), Tehran: Nashr-e Markaz, 5th impression, 2008; 4th impression, 2005; 3rd impression, 2003; 2nd impression, 1998; first edition, 1994.
  • Musaddiq and the Struggle for Power in Iran, tr. Farzaneh Taheri, second edition, Tehran: Nashr-e Markaz, 1999, first edition 1994.
  • Ideology and Method in Economics, tr. M. Qa'ed, Tehran: Nashr-e Markaz, 1995.
  • Fourteen Essays on Literature, Society, Philosophy and Economics (some of them translated from the English), second impression, Tehran: Nashr-e Markaz, 1996; first edition, 1995.
  • Khalil Maleki's The Contest of Ideas, edited with an introduction (with Amir Pichdad), second impression, Tehran: Nashr-e Markaz, 1997; first edition, 1995.
  • A Song of Innocence, a book of Homa Katouzian's poems, Tehran: Nashr-e Markaz, second enlarged edition 2004 (first edition, 1997).
  • Ahmad Kasravi's The Revolt of Sheikh Mohammad Khiyabani (Kasravi's unpublished manuscript, edited and annotated, and with a 82-page introduction) Tehran: Nashr-e Markaz, third impression, 2006, second impression, 1999; first edition, 1997.
  • Nine Essays on the Historical Sociology of Iran, etc., tr. Alireza Tayyeb, Tehran: Nashr-e Markaz; third impression 2009 (first edition, 1998).
  • State and Society in Iran: The Eclipse of the Qajars and the Emergence of the Pahlavis, tr. Hasan Afshar, Tehran: Nashr-e Markaz; 5th impression, 2010, 4th impression, 2007; 3rd impression, 2005; 2nd impression 2002; first edition, 2001.
  • The Dialectic of State and Society in Iran, tr. Alireza Tayyeb, Tehran: Nashr- e Ney, third impression, 2005, second impression 2003; first edition 2002.
  • Iran Nameh, guest ed. Special Issue on Seyyed Hasan Taqizadeh, 21, 1&2, spring and summer 2003.
  • Khalil Maleki’s Letters, ed. (with Amir Pichdad), Tehran, Nashr-e Markaz, 2003.
  • Satire and Irony in Hedayat, Stockholm: Arash, 2003.
  • Jamalzadeh and His Literature, Tehran: Shahab, 2003.
  • Eight Essays on Contemporary History and Literature, Tehran: Nashr-e Markaz, 2nd impression 2010 (first edition, 2006).
  • Sa‘di, Tehran: Nashr-e Markaz, 2006.
  • Golchin-e Sa’di: Golestan, Ghazal-ha, Bustan, Qasideh-ha, Tehran: Nashr-e Markaz, 2009.


  • His Official page at Oxford University website

External links

  • Homa Katouzian’s homepage
  • St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford
  • Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Oxford
  • journal
  • Sadeq Hedayat Centenary Conference, Oxford University, 2003
  • Iran Heritage Foundation

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