Rethinking History: Returning to Archives and Documents Seminar Series: Jennifer Jenkins

When and Where

Thursday, May 18, 2023 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm
Online via Zoom


Jennifer Jenkins, University of Toronto


Presence and Silence: The Iran Archives in the German Foreign Office

The Elahé Omidyar Mir-Djalali Institute of Iranian Studies, University of Toronto and Invisible East Programme, Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Oxford present virtual seminar series on Rethinking History: Returning to Archives and Documents on Thursday, May 18, 2023, at 12 PM (Eastern Time: Canada and US), 5 PM (UK)

Arezou Azad & Mohamad Tavakoli

In the depths of the German Foreign Office in Berlin, there is an enormous archive on Iran. What can this collection tell us about Iranian history? “Presence and Silence” introduce this archive—its size, scope, and the many topics it covers—speaking to how Iran’s modern history can be rethought in the light of these documents. It specifically takes up the topic of the inter-imperial tension over Iran---the Anglo-Russian conflict and Germany’s role in it—and the specific effects this generated for Iran’s nationalist movement and the country’s process of political and industrial modernization. Germany’s relationship to Iran, forged during the Constitutional Revolution and the signing of the Anglo-Russian Convention of 1907, played forward into the period of the First World War and Reza Shah’s modernization of Iran. As these documents show, Germany positioned itself as a suitable partner for Iranian nationalists and modernizers, transforming regional power relationships in the process. This voluminous archive powerfully makes the point that Germany can no longer be left out—as it very often is—from the histories of Iran’s modern transformation.

Jennifer L. Jenkins is a global historian who writes on Iran from the perspectives of international diplomacy and political economy. An Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair in German History at the University of Toronto, she is working on two book manuscripts: The Persian Question: Germany, Iran and the Near East in the Age of Empire, 1856-1914, and The German Orient, 1905-1979.  In 2022 she was a visiting scholar at the Sharmin and Bijan Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Iran and Persian Gulf Studies at Princeton University. She has held fellowships from the Jackman Humanities Institute at the University of Toronto, the Canada Research Chairs Program, the National Endowment for the Humanities, Harvard University, and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. She has been an Associate at the Zentrum Moderner Orient in Berlin (2017-2018), a Senior Associate Member of St. Antony’s College, Oxford University (2013-2014), and an Eva and Victor Klemperer Fellow at the TU Dresden (December 2019).

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