OUR SCHOLARS | Dr. Stephanie Cronin

Stephanie Cronin is lecturer in Iranian history in the Faculty of Oriental Studies, and a member of St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford. Cronin has held an Iran Heritage Foundation fellowship for many years. She is currently working on a comparative study of Middle Eastern state building.

She is the author of Shahs, Soldiers and Subalterns in Iran: Opposition, Protest and Revolt, 1921-1941 (2010); Tribal Politics in Iran: Rural Conflict and the New State, 1921-1941 (2006); and The Army and the Creation of the Pahlavi State in Iran, 1910-1926 (1997). She is the editor of Subalterns and Social Protest: History from Below in the Middle East and North Africa (2007); Reformers and Revolutionaries in Modern Iran: New Perspectives on the Iranian Left (2004); and The Making of Modern Iran; State and Society Under Riza Shah, 1921-1941 (2003).

Dr. Stephanie Cronin is Featured in The Third Path

What Dr. Stephanie Cronin Said

“This is a process which is happening around the Middle East, especially next door in Turkey. A modern woman is someone who is educated, someone perhaps who works outside the home, although not necessarily, it’s a woman who is contextualized within a modern family which is to say she would be the sole wife. It would be a companionate marriage, not a marriage which was arranged to suit the interests of families but where emotion was involved, and she would be sufficiently educated to bring her children up properly. In parallel to this, the appearance of women had to change. In the past, Iranian women had been very heavily veiled with full chador and face-veil. This was believed to be incompatible with these kinds of changes. So in order to be modern, the Iranian woman had to look modern. So this meant a change in the way women dressed.””A lot of the army’s weaponry was sold to the tribes. So regiments hardly existed. So the new Shah, [Mohammad Reza Pahlavi,] wanted to reconstruct the army and restore to it some of the prestige that it had possessed in the 1930s. So his goal was to rebuild the army with conscription. Again, he wanted a very large army and to begin to rearm it. For the British in particular this was quite the opposite of what they had in mind. The British wanted a small army which would essentially carry out essentially police functions, and most crucially, a small army which would not represent a political threat in the future because the 1930s had seen the era of coups begin in the Middle East, in Iraq, for example. The British understood clearly the potential for coup making represented by ambitious generals.”

“In 1953 Mosaddeq was overthrown by a coup. This has led to a tendency for the Iranian army to be identified with the monarchy, with the Pahlavi monarchy which I think is an exaggeration, because when you look at the 1940s and ‘50s and even the ‘60s we can see that within the army there are number of political tendencies and trends. Whereas the senior officers tended to be supportive of the monarchy, at the slightly lower levels, particularly at the levels of colonel, for example, and that’s the traditional coup-making level, there was always in the Iranian army considerable opposition to the monarchy and support for Iranian nationalism as represented, for example, by a figure like Mosaddeq. So although we know that Mosaddeq was eventually overthrown by a coup, I think it would be wrong to assume on that account that the army as a solid block was in favor of the monarchy… We can see that the Shah had difficulty in establishing his own supremacy over his senior officers. In the period of the oil nationalization crisis, again, we see Mosaddeq retiring the senior officers who are pro-Shah, but on the other hand gaining a good deal of support from other officers within the army at slightly lower levels usually who formed a kind of bedrock of military support for his regime.”

Modern Military

Failed Attempts

World War II

The Homafar

The Coup of Reza Khan

Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi

The Pasdaran

The Army of Reza Shah

Regional Power

Women Education in Iran