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Petroleum and Progress in Iran: Oil, Development, and the Cold War
March 29 @ 6:00 pm - 7:15 pm
The Center for Presidential History welcomes Gregory Brew (Yale University) to discuss his new book, Petroleum and Progress in Iran: Oil, Development, and the Cold War.
From the 1940s to 1960s, Iran developed into the world’s first ‘petro-state’, where oil represented the bulk of state revenue and supported an industrializing economy, expanding middle class, and powerful administrative and military apparatus. Drawing on both American and Iranian sources, Gregory Brew outlines how the Pahlavi petro-state emerged from a confluence of forces – some global, some local. He shows how the shah’s particular form of oil-based authoritarianism evolved from interactions with American developmentalists, Pahlavi technocrats, and major oil companies, all against the looming backdrop of the United States’ Cold War policy and the coup d’etat of August 1953. By placing oil at the centre of the Cold War narrative, Brew contextualizes Iran’s pro-Western alignment and slide into petrolic authoritarianism. Synthesizing a wide range of sources and research methods, this book demonstrates that the Pahlavi petro-state was not born, but made, and not solely by the Pahlavi shah.
Gregory Brew is a historian of oil, U.S. foreign relations, and the modern Middle East and Iran. His work explores the connections between the formation of a global oil economy, the geopolitics of the Cold War, and the contemporary energy transition. He received my doctorate from Georgetown University in June 2018 and is currently a Kissinger Visiting Scholar at the Jackson School of Global Affairs at Yale University.