Dr Hormoz Ebrahimnejad is a Lecturer in History at the University of Southampton.
BA in history (Major), and sociology (Minor): (University of Ferdowsi, Mashhad, Iran); MA in history: (Paris Sorbonne IV); PhD in history: (Paris Sorbonne III)
I am a historian of modern Iran (eighteenth-twenty first centuries).
- History of modern Iran
- Islamism in mthe modern period,
- History of Islamic medicine
- History of hospitals
- History of modernisation in Iran
I am currently working on two different but inter-related projects: the first is to continue with the question of modernisation pattern with a focus on the perception of the concept of “constitution” and “rule of law”.
My second project is on modern Waqf (charitable endowments in Islam) and how they are operating in tandem with or regardless of sharia law. I approach this question through the practice of waqf and how waqf dynamics informed different legal settings of waqf in different countries.
Current PhD Students
As a research student in Paris, I was interested in examining how the clerics could take power. However, lack of available sources on this subject in France led me focus on the Qâjâr dynasty in the nineteenth century. For my PhD at Sorbonne, I investigated issues of power and succession under the early Qâjârs. In my first book, Succession et pouvoir en Iran: les premiers Qâjârs 1726-1834 (L’Harmattan, Paris, 1999) through a detailed analysis of the Qâjâr families and clans, I argued that the Shah, contrary to official historiographical discourse or even modern historiography, did not hold absolute power. The seat of sovereignty was shared by various Qâjâr dignitaries. The nebulous structure of power was mainly due to the tribal organisation of the Qâjârs, characterised by horizontal rather than vertical and hierarchical relationships between different clans and families, and in which the transmission of right to rule was based on both maternal and paternal lines. In such a situation, the Shah could only name his successor tacitly. Although such a nomination was also backed by a tacit consensus, after the death of the Shah the heir apparent, had to secure his right to the throne by the sword as well as by relying on the support of foreign powers.
During the archival research for my dissertation, I came across a host of material on epidemics, which directly or indirectly affected the political situation. These sources led me to examine the medical manuscripts in the nineteenth century to explore the impact of epidemics on medical literature. Despite the change of subject, my work on the history of medicine continues to address the structure of political power but from a different angle: that of the relationship between the state, medicine, and public health. In my first book, I exclusively discussed problems of political power and the transmission of authority and sovereignty and my research in the history of medicine also covers the transmission and transition of science and knowledge.
My second book, Medicine, Public Health and the Qâjâr State: Patterns of Medical Modernisation in Nineteenth-Century Iran (Brill, 2004), examined the medical transformation in Iran from an institutional point of view, arguing that the new state-run institutions (such as the first polytechnic school, the military hospital and the boards of public health) furthered medical professionalization by bringing together traditional physicians and modern-educated doctors. It was thanks to this framework that theoretical and intellectual transition in medicine occurred. The book illustrated the importance of institutional change in medical transformation through the edition and analysis of a Persian manuscript written in the 1860s by a traditional physician.
My third book, Medicine in Iran: Profession, Practice and Politics (Palgrave, 2014), complemented the study of medical transformation in Iran by examining the theoretical transition in traditional medicine, and investigating the change in the perception of diseases and medical concepts within the framework of humoral theory. It demonstrates that traditional physicians played an important role in the rise of modern medicine in Iran, not only through their contribution to translate medical texts, but more substantially by overturning the concepts of humoral medicine when applying these in the treatment of epidemic diseases. This process allowed Persian physicians to be more open to new ideas, with the introduction of anatomy-pathology and biomedicine in Iran.
The result of this research was to introduce a new historiographical approach in the history of medical modernisation that had thus far segregated Western and non-Western medicines by seeing modernisation as simply the old being replaced by the new, rather than as the transformation of the local resources. In order to test these findings against other historical contexts, I organised an international workshop in London (2004), in which several research papers discussed medical modernisation in countries such as Vietnam, Turkey, Egypt, Japan, India and elsewhere. I published the proceedings of this workshop in a book, The Development of Modern Medicine in Non-Western Countries, Historical Perspectives (Routledge, 2009).