Ranin Kazemi is an Associate Professor of History at San Diego State University where he has been teaching global and Middle Eastern history since 2015. Kazemi became interested in the history of Iran and the Middle East while attending college at Middle Tennessee State University, where he wrote an honors thesis on the Sufi love imagery in the poetry of the thirteenth-century mystic Jalal al-Din Rumi. Kazumi pursued his graduate work at The Ohio State University, where he obtained an MA degree and wrote a graduate thesis on the historiographical thought of Abu’l-Fazl Bayhaqi, an important eleventh-century historian of the Ghaznavid state. Kazemi then obtained two Master’s degrees and a PhD at Yale University, where he worked on the social and economic history of modern Iran with a special focus on the nineteenth century. Throughout this intellectual trajectory, Kazemi enjoyed taking classes on a wide variety of topics related to the history of the Middle East in the medieval and modern periods and was privileged to work with a number of wonderful mentors and scholars of Iran and the Middle East.
Brief description of current research
Kazemi’s current research projects focus on the social and economic history of Iran with particular attention to three inter-connected areas: 1) the history of social protest and political dissent in the nineteenth century, 2) the history of food, famine, and bread riots in the Qajar period, and 3) the history of consumer culture and recreational drugs in modern Iran. Kazemi has published several lengthy, monographic articles about these topics in peer-reviewed scholarly journals such as Iranian Studies, Modern Asian Studies, the British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, and Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. He is also completing a book-length study of the economic, social, and political origins of the Tobacco Protest, one of the earliest national and revolutionary movements in the modern Middle East. Kazemi contends that the significance of these research projects lies in the fact that they bring the stories of revolution, political dissent, global capitalism, and other social and economic changes in contemporary Iran to the nineteenth century. In so doing, his research explains the context in which a modern society emerged in the Qajar period and how a deeper understanding of this society helps us grapple more effectively with important contemporary issues.
Awards and Recognition
Kazemi’s work has received many awards from national and international academic institutions. He was most recently the recipient of a 12-month grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. His research was also supported by the International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, the Council of American Overseas Research Centers, the American Research Institute in Turkey, and the American Institute of Iranian Studies. Kazemi’s teaching at graduate and undergraduate levels has received recognition as well. He was most recently the recipient of a 2019 Outstanding Faculty Award in recognition of being selected as the Most Influential University Professor at San Diego State University. Finally, Kazemi’s service has been recognized in 2021 when he was appointed the Director of International Business at SDSU, an interdisciplinary program that is consistently ranked among the top ten undergraduate International Business programs in the US.
Any advice you wish you were given but were not!
Students entering the field of Iranian studies can consider working on topics or periods of Iranian history that have not received sufficient scholarly attention. The eighteenth century is a case in point or the social history of key moments in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Young scholars of Iran might consider becoming conversant in the scholarship of the rest of the world. Adopting a global vision allows us to situate the stories of Iran and the Middle East in a meaningful context. We should learn about the history and cultures of the Middle East, South Asia, Central Asia, and Russia -- regions surrounding the geographical space that the Persian/Iranian civilizational area occupies. Finally, it would be wonderful if students of modern Iran could nurture a deeper understanding of ancient, medieval, and early modern Iran. There are many continuities in the literature, culture, and history of modern Iran that require scholarly work and attention.
Your favorite Iranian food
Gheimeh (خورش قیمه) with saffron rice or Baghali Polo, Persian pickles, cucumber yogurt or mast-o-khiyar, and sabzi khordan (a mixture of fresh herbs and vegetables).
Your favorite Iranian song
A tasnif entitled, “Jan-e ‘oshshaq,” (جان عشاق) by the late Mohammad-Reza Shajarian
Your favorite Destination in Iran
Hafezeyyeh in Shiraz, the resting place of Hafez
Your Favorite Pastime: Chess or backgammon?