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Legacies of Land Reform in Modern Iran: Historical and Contemporary Variation across Nine Provinces
What have been the long-term social and political consequences of land reform in the Middle East? Perhaps no postcolonial region experienced higher degrees of top-down redistribution of land parcels outside of East Asia, and land reform in states such as Egypt, Iraq, and Iran was the subject of numerous monographs during an earlier period of scholarship within Middle East studies. Yet two generations later, the long-term legacies of land reform are less understood. Using a newly digitized dataset culled from 9 provincial reports published by Iran's Ministry of Agriculture from 1977-1983, this paper asks two key questions. First, as opposed to the scholarly historiography of Iran's land reform (1962-1973) which tends to generalize from 1-2 provinces, what are the degrees of variation of land redistribution between and within provinces as evidenced by these newly available data? These 9 provinces make up the majority of Iran's rural population. Can any patterned variation in expropriation of landlords be determined, and how does this relate to ethno-linguistic, geographic, and agricultural characteristics of these sub-regions? Second, do patterned variations in Iran's land reform from the 1960s correlate with post-1979 trends under the Islamic Republic such as fertility change, migration rates, educational attainment, and voting patterns? In other words, does variation in land reform provide a lens to understand the continuity and change of social life in Iran across the revolutionary divide? The paper will provide an initial assessment of these questions in preview of an upcoming larger research project focusing on long-term social change in Iran.
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