Bazaar and State in Iran

The Politics of the Tehran Marketplace

Bazaar and State in Iran

The Tehran Bazaar has always been central to the Iranian economy and indeed, to the Iranian urban experience. Arang Keshavarzian's fascinating book compares the economics and politics of the marketplace under the Pahlavis, who sought to undermine it in the drive for modernisation and under the subsequent revolutionary regime, which came to power with a mandate to preserve the bazaar as an 'Islamic' institution. The outcomes of their respective policies were completely at odds with their intentions. Despite the Shah's hostile approach, the bazaar flourished under his rule and maintained its organisational autonomy to such an extent that it played an integral role in the Islamic revolution. Conversely, the Islamic Republic implemented policies that unwittingly transformed the ways in which the bazaar operated, thus undermining its capacity for political mobilisation. Arang Keshavarizian's book affords unusual insights into the politics, economics and society of Iran across four decades.


"Keshavarzian casts his study within an intelligent and provocative theoretical framework, while providing the reader with rich empirical detail...He makes new contributions to the study of the Tehran bazaar" - Ervand Abrahamian, Department of History, Baruch College

"…no other work comes close to Keshavarzian's in its systematic treatment of the subject…it is likely to broaden the discourse on Iranian politics in the existing academic literature." - Massoud Karshenas, Department of Economics, SOAS, University of London

"...a treasure of information, fine analyses, and comparisons...the fruit of dense and extensive anthropological field research. ... should be read not only by Iran specialists, but by anybody interested in economic institutions in Islamic countries or in the link between economic, social, and cultural practices." - Fariba Adelkhah, Iranian Studies

"Highly recommended." - Choice

"These richly detailed case studies are instructive and interesting, and give the book an original flavor.... The book is also certainly a useful historical reference for tracing the Bazaar's continuous transfiguration over time." - The Developing Economies (Japan)

"Keshavarzian shows how the bazaar exercised its political and economic influence under the shah. He then lays out the paradox that the revolution in which the bazaar was so central brought in a government that has systematically weakened the bazaar to the point that the bazaar is no longer a significant political player. His style is at times a bit dense, but Keshavarzian is no obscurantist academic: He provides lots of colorful details." - Foreign Policy