Document Type

Book Chapter

Date of this Version


Publication Source

Iran: Continuity and Variety, Fourth Annual New York University Near Eastern Round Table, 1970-1971

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Professional ethnography did not enter Iran until the late fifties. For a variety of reasons which are largely non-Iranian and non-an­thropological the anthropologists who have worked in Iran since then have concentrated their attention on pastoral nomads, and little work of any anthropological significance has been done in the village sector of Iranian society. My general interest in the historical ecology of the desert areas of eastern Iran led me to embark in the summer of 1969 on a series of preliminary studies of oasis village communities. This essay relies on the data collected in two short seasons1 and a long fam­iliarity with the Iranian deserts in general. Small isolated settlements in eastern Iran are of course in no way representative of Iranian vil­lages in general. However the fascination of the deserts for a fieldwork­er interested in social processes lies in the immense distances and the low density of population. Problems which are difficult to isolate in the more typical areas of relatively high population density may be exposed in simple relief in the deserts. The solutions may of course not be the same. At this stage I am suggesting only that what can be extrapolated from the results of preliminary studies in the east may prove valuable in future studies of more typical and more densely populated areas of the country. Because these villages are so isolated modern types of change have been slow to reach them and such mod-em processes of change that have touched them are easier to isolate.



Date Posted: 28 October 2016