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Dr Katayoun Shafiee



Office Hours:

FAB3.72, third floor of the Faculty of Arts Building
024 76150932, internal extension 50932

On MS Teams or in person (by appointment only): Tuesdays 10-11 (Teams) and Fridays 12:30-1:30 pm (in person) FAB3.72


Academic Profile

  • 2020-present: Associate Professor in the History of the Middle East, University of Warwick
  • 2017-2020: Assistant Professor in the History of the Middle East, University of Warwick
  • 2016-2017: Visiting Research Fellow, Institute of Advanced Studies, University College London
  • 2014-2016: Post-doctoral Research Fellow, Middle East Institute, National University of Singapore
  • 2010: PhD in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies and History, New York University
  • 2003: MA in Near Eastern Studies, New York University
  • 2000: BA in Biology, Brown University



I am broadly interested in the history and material politics of large-scale infrastructures in the modern Middle East and the kinds of expert knowledge (economic, scientific, and technical) generated about them, particularly concerning energy networks. My research and writing draws on tools from science and technology studies (STS) and post-colonial theory to rethink historical and political analysis with specific regard to non-human actors. My first book, Machineries of Oil: An Infrastructural History of BP in Iran (MIT Press, 2018) brings together histories of the Middle East with interdisciplinary thinking in STS to reconfigure the politics of the Middle East through a study of the British-controlled oil industry in Iran. I have published articles on the politics of petroleum formulas, the racial-technical regime of oil labour, and the transformative role of Anglo-Iranian oil in international law. My most recent articles consider the role of neoclassical economics in the politics of water resource development in Iran and the emergent field of STS and Middle East History.

My second forthcoming book is another kind of infrastructural history that considers the role of the economic (cost-benefit analysis) and soil sciences in the building of a large-scale dam in southwest Iran, along the Persian Gulf. The project continues to investigate the centrality of technologies of energy development in shaping political possibilities in the twentieth century. This research was supported by a grant from the British Academy/Leverhulme Trust (2021-22). My previous research has been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation (USA) and the Social Science Research Council (USA) as well as fellowships from New York University, the National University of Singapore, and University College London.

I welcome doctoral students with an interest in science and technology studies, post-colonial studies, and the politics of energy and infrastructural transformation in the modern Middle East.

Peer-Reviewed Publications



  • 2021 'Oil Industrialization in the Middle East,' Oxford Research Encylopedia of Commercial Asian History, ed. David Ludden, (New York: Oxford University Press).
  • 2020 'Cost-benefit Analysis at the Floodgates: Governing Democratic Futures through the Reassembling of Iran's Waterways,' Social Studies of Science 50(1): 94-120.
  • 2019 'Science and Technology Studies (STS), modern Middle East History, and the Infrastructural Turn,' History Compass 17, no. 12: e12598.
  • 2018 'Techno-Politics of a Concession Contract: How International Law was Transformed by its Encounter with Anglo-Iranian Oil,' International Journal of Middle East Studies 50(4): 627-648.

  • 2012 'A petro-formula and its world: calculating production, labor and profits in the assembling of Anglo-Iranian oil, 1901-54,' Economy and Society 41(4): 585-614.

  • 2011 'Oil worker dissent and the assembling of an oil labor regime in Iran, 1922-35,' 900. Per Una storia del tempo presente, 4(1): 17-39. Issue devoted to “The End of Oil: Energy Resources and Democracy in Contemporary History.”

Other Publications