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Region-Making, Partitioned Sovereignty and Territorial Expressions: the Persian Gulf in the Twentieth Century with Arang Keshavarzian


Institute for Middle East Studies

Since the late nineteenth century the Persian Gulf has been transformed from a social world facilitating movement and interdependence to a fault-line needing to be secured.  To examine this geographical shift, I consider how this region developed in relation to and in tandem with other scales and space – the imperial, the national, the international, and the urban.  Specifically, in this paper I examine how sovereignty accrued and was partitioned in multiple ways between myriad actors.  Empires, firms, rulers, social classes, and others seeking to accrue capital and power used territoriality to achieve their objectives.  Regionalism in the Persian Gulf is an expression of these concrete, yet often contradictory, processes, which have left their imprint in how regional politics materialize today.


  • Arang Keshavarzian is an Associate Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at New York University. His is the author of Bazaar and State in Iran: the Politics of the Tehran Marketplace as well as essays on various topics related to Iran, the Persian Gulf, and the Middle East in such journals as Politics and Society, International Journal of Middle East Studies, Geopolitics, Economy and Society, and International Journal of Urban and Regional Research. His current research explores the regionalization of the Persian Gulf across geographic scales and the long twentieth century. He is a member of the editorial committee for Middle East Report (