Dissertation Defense: Gregory Brew

Candidate Name: Gregory Brew

Major: History

Adviser: David S. Painter

Title: Mandarins, Paladins, and Pahlavis: the International Energy System, the United States, and the Dual Integration of Oil in Iran, 1925-1964

Pahlavi Iran (1925-1979) has long been considered the quintessential “rentier state,” since Hossein Mahdavy first coined the term in 1970. The characterization was based on the regime’s dependence on oil revenues, its heavy-handed authoritarianism and its top-down economic development strategy. But how did that strategy evolve? How was oil linked to Iran’s modernization, and what role did the Pahlavi shah’s ally, the United States, private oil companies and Western non-government organizations (NGOs) play in forming that connection? To understand the transformation of Pahlavi Iran into a “rentier state,” it is necessary to explore the links between the integration of Iranian oil into a global energy system, and the simultaneous use of oil-revenues, or “oil power,” for state-driven economic development.

Mandarins, Paladins, and Pahlavis contends that Iran’s evolving relationship with the international energy system was closely connected to the Pahlavi regime’s efforts to modernize Iranian society through economic development. While private oil companies managed the country's oil resources, using Iran to balance global supply with demand through their control over price and production, the U.S. government sponsored efforts by NGOs to apply oil revenues to development projects, hoping to bring stability to Iran and retain its pro-Western alignment in the context of the early Cold War. “Global” integration through the companies was necessary to turn crude oil into oil wealth, thereby facilitating “local” integration through economic development: a two-tiered process, referred to here as the dual integration of oil.

Mandarins, Paladins, and Pahlavis examines dual integration from the beginning of the Pahlavi period, through the traumatic Mosaddeq era and Iran's oil nationalization crisis, the first Pahlavi attempts to link petroleum to progress in the 1950s and the origins of OPEC in the early 1960s. The project utilizes the official archives of the United States and Great Britain, the British Petroleum (BP) Archive, records of major development organizations, including the Ford Foundation and World Bank, and memoirs and interviews with Iranian officials.

Thursday, May 10, 2018 at 10:00am to 12:00pm

Edward B. Bunn, S.J. Intercultural Center, 662
37th and O St., N.W., Washington

Event Type

Academic Events, Dissertation Defense


Georgetown College, History, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences



Open to the public and the press?


Event Contact Name

Carolina Madinaveitia

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