The Development of the Modern Iranian Nation-State: From Qajar Origins to Early Pahlavi Modernization


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Virginia Tech


This thesis focuses on the development of the Iranian nation and state from 1811 to 1941. Both of these developments occurred in response to Iran's encounter with the European powers, specifically Russia and Great Britain. Government-led reforms opened the possibility for the development of Iranian nationalism, as Iranian students were in England and brought back the first printing press with them to Iran in 1815. The introduction of the printing press was significant to the development of the Iranian nation-state, as an increase in journals and periodicals introduced contemporary European political ideas to Iranians. This increased the calls to replicate the customs and norms of European society in Iran, ultimately leading to the Constitutional Revolution of 1906. The Constitutional Revolution established a Parliament in Iran that was politically weak and held little power in the provinces outside of Tehran. Tribal authority increased throughout Iran, and the Russians and British eventually occupied Iran from 1911 to 1917. The establishment of Reza Shah's rule in 1921 introduced a new centralized Iranian state that was legitimated by the nation and established its rule over the tribes. It is also during Reza Shah's rule that the conception of the Iranian nation begins to change.



Iran, nationalism, centralization, Persian, Constitutionalism