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"If I deserve it, it should be paid to me": A social history of labour in the Iranian oil industry 1951-1973

Maral Jefroudi defended her thesis on 11 October 2017

Maral Jefroudi
11 October 2017
Leiden Repository

The oil nationalisation in Iran (1951) was interrupted by a CIA-MI6 organized coup in 1953 and a multinational consortium to manage oil production and refining was established in 1954.  Maral Jefroudi studied the social history of oil in the Iranian oil industry in the two decades following the nationalisation, up until the complete transfer of the management of the industry to the National Iranian Oil Company in 1973.
She argues that the assertion of oil being a natural resource and not a produced commodity has mystified the social relations of production in the oil industry. Jefroudi studied the oil workers in Iran at the point of production, in the labour market, and in their living conditions through archival work in USA, Britain, Iran and the Netherlands.
The making of the nationalisation of oil and its impact on the oil producing community, extent of the industry with respect to the types of work it covered and generated, the various social class positions its workers occupied, labour activism in the oil industry, and the specific relation the industry had with the state was researched.
Her research shows that the nationalist discourse behind the Iranianisation process obscured the inequalities within the oil producing community by assuming a horizontal fraternity despite the material inequalities and the organization of labour through a detailed stratification helped legitimize this order.  She argues that the worker's struggle for a better life entailed not only a nominal increase in the wages and other economic benefits but also having a fair share of the results of one’s productive activities.
Since 2014 she is co-director at the International Institute of Research and Education in Amsterdam.

Supervisor: prof. T. Atabaki

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