OUR SCHOLARS | Dr. Kevan Harris

Harris Kevan

Kevan Harris is the Associate Director of Princeton University’s Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Iran and Persian Gulf Studies. Harris is also a post-doctoral research fellow at Princeton’s Department of Near Eastern Studies where he will continue working on two major articles for publication: a critique of the theory of the “rentier state” as used in Middle Eastern studies, and an analysis of welfare policy as class politics in Middle Eastern states over the past six decades. His research focuses on political economy, welfare systems, economic history, and social movements in Western Asia and Northern Africa.

Harris obtained his degrees from Northwestern University (BA) and Johns Hopkins University (MA and Ph.D.) His current book project concentrates on post-revolutionary Iranian state and society.

“In the ‘40s and ‘50s, we’re talking about the Muslim brotherhood, who was one of the largest Islamic groups in existence. And so, I find all kinds of very interesting concepts that come out of this Egyptian and Levantine political Islam that’s very Sunni and Khomeini starts using them.”


“And then you saw as the rural segments of Iran started to level with the urban segments, you then saw a switch by the government towards emphasizing secondary higher education, social insurance and different sorts of social policies which we recognize in other countries as well. And then out of this process you got the highly educated Iran that today we read about when we read newspaper reports by journalist who go and are amazed about how educated for example women in Iran are or all the aspirations that young people in Iran have.”


“In fact, because of the massive uptake and use of birth control, of family planning methods, even so called traditional family planning methods by many poor and middle income individuals and households in Iran. The population in 2000 was 70 million, not a 100 million. And this led to so many major transformations in Iranian society that I think we still today do not understand the gravity of it all.”