Growing Economic Dependency of Iran under Qajar and Beginning of Westoxification

  December 05, 2020   Read time 1 min
Growing Economic Dependency of Iran under Qajar and Beginning of Westoxification
Economic dependence has always caused culturally independent states to lose their independent cultural identities. This is also the case with Iran as we see the growing impact of the west on Iran particularly in the level of elites.

Between the 1850s and the First World War Iranians lost much material autonomy. Decline in textile exports from over 60 per cent of Iranian exports in the mid-nineteenth century to around 13 per cent in the early twentieth century, when manufactured goods formed over 73 per cent of all imports, was matched by the dominance of raw material exports in a classic quasi-colonial pattern shaped by European demand. This can also be seen in human terms. The lives and choices of artisans, landowners, traders and peasants were shaped by the demand for carpets in Europe, cotton and wool in Russia or opium in Hong Kong and Iranian consumption of imported goods. By the early twentieth century, dependency and interdependence penetrated and co-existed with localised self-sufficient life and production. Tabrizi merchants and British firms sponsored new carpet production for export to Europe, negotiating with artisans and carpet-making households, or creating their own workshops. Iranian merchants established agents in India, Europe, Istanbul and Hong Kong. Urban craft producers went out of business or adapted to new conditions, as Isfahani printed cloth-makers now printed local designs on imported cotton fabric. Iranian peasants and landlords juggled the risks and opportunities of using land for opium, dye plants or tobacco production for export, rather than grain cultivation for local consumption. Lower-class Iranians often wore clothes made from Manchester cotton rather than locally woven karbas, and had tools and cooking pans made with imported metal. Those who consumed tea and sugar relied on British, French and Russian sources at prices set in global markets. Carpet weavers faced European regulation designs or dyes and combined imported cotton thread with local wool in their work. Needy and aspiring wage earners and traders in north-western Iran became migrant workers in the Baku oilfields or traded illicitly across the Russian border (Source: Religion, culture and politics in Iran: from the Qajars to Imam Khomeini).

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