My main research and teaching field is the social, cultural and political history of the modern Middle East and Central Asia. Under the supervision of Prof Ervand Abrahamian (Baruch College) I did my doctoral dissertation on the ethnicity and regional autonomy in the twentieth century Iran; it was published in 1993 and reprinted in 2000. Since then I moved to the former Soviet south and continued to work on the Caucasus and Central Asia, with a special interest in society, culture and politics in the 1920-1940 period. I have also done some research on the late Ottoman and early modern Turkey’s cultural and political links with Iran, the Caucasus and Central Asia.
Since I joined the International Institute of Social History I became more interested on the labour and subaltern histories, manifested (among other things) in a 2003 co-editing (with Marcel van der Linden) a special issue of International Review of Social History on history of Iran from below and in a 2007 edited volume on State and Subaltern in modern Turkey and Iran. My most recent book is an edited volume on historiography and political culture in Iran. At the present I am coordinating a research project on Social History of Labour in the Iranian Oil Industry 1908-2008. Together with Peyman Jafari, Maral Jefroudi, Robabeh Motaghedi and Jamasb Soltani, four of my PhD students, we aim to record the social history of 100 years of the Iranian oil industry.
Along the way I have served as president of the European Society for Central Asian Studies (ESCAS), as a member of the academic board of the International Institute of Asian Studies (IIAS), as a member of the Board of Consulting Editors of the International Labour and Working-Class History, the Editorial Board of the International Journal of Iranian Studies, the Editorial Board of the Journal of Central Asian Survey and the Editorial Board of the International Journal of Azerbaijani Studies. At the present I hold the chair of ‘Social History of the Middle East and Central Asia at the School of the Middle East Studies of the University of Leiden and work as the Senior Research Fellow at the International Institute of Social History, head of the Middle East and Central Asia Desk.
My fields of research encompass Social History of the Middle East, the Caucasus and Central Asia, Modernity, Migration, Nationalism, Labour and Subaltern Studies and post-Colonial Historiography.