At a Glance
For over three decades, Hooshang Amirahmadi has shown exemplary leadership as a scholar, academic administrator, and as an activist in international conflict resolution and peace building, especially between Iran and the United States. He has also stood above political factions in Iran, trying to build bridges among them, and assisted many developing countries with their economic planning, policies and management.
Having earned an M.S. in management from University of Dallas and a PhD from Cornell University, in 1983 he joined the faculty of Rutgers University — one of America’s, and the world’s, leading institutions of higher education — as assistant professor of planning and international development. In 1992, he achieved the rank of full professor at Rutgers in record time in recognition of his exceptionally prolific scholarship and publications.
Prior to his studies and academic career in the U.S., Amirahmadi had established a track record of many years as an agricultural engineer and project manager in Iran’s rural provinces. He was born in Talesh on the Caspian Sea coast, in the Province of Gilan in Iran on March 24, 1947, completed high school in Rasht, the provincial capital, and earned a B.S. degree in Agricultural Engineering from Tabriz University in 1968. He completed his military service in Iran’s Agricultural Corps.
Amirahmadi’s published scholarship over the past three decades has displayed a broad and encompassing range, and has tackled some of the most challenging issues in international development and relations. His scholarship has been truly outstanding in the case of Iran. He has written and edited over a dozen books and many monographs. Among his most influential books are, Revolution and Economic Transition: The Iranian Experience (1992, SUNY Press); Small Island, Big Politics: The Tunbs and Abu Musa in the Persian Gulf (1996, St Martin’s Press, New York), and The Caspian Region at a Crossroad: Challenges of a New Frontier of Energy and Development (2000, St Martin’s Press, New York).
These three books have been trend-setters. Revolution and Economic Transition represents the first book-length treatment of the Iranian economy after the Revolution, especially for its deep examination of the impact of the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s on the direction of the Islamic Revolution and Iran’s political economy as well as challenges of post-war reconstruction. This book benefited from Amirahmadi’s repeated visits to the war-affected regions while the fighting was still raging.
Small Islands, Big Politics counts as the most authoritative text in print on the history of the disputed islands in the Persian Gulf and offers the most convincing scholarly evidence of Iran’s sovereignty over them. The Caspian Region at a Crossroad documents the results of the massive geopolitical realignments that occurred in that key region after the end of the Cold War, elucidates Iran’s historical rights in the Sea in the wake of the dispute over a new legal regime, and places Iran at the center of the region’s future prospects.
His latest book on The Political Economy of Iran during the crucial 1800-1920 period of transition from tradition to modernity was published in 2012. The book explains why an Islamic theocracy would emerge in modern Iran. He faults obsolete political leadership and misguided international interventions as the underlying causes. This seminal book will significantly influence Iranian studies and the debates on Iran’s future political‑economic development.
Amirahmadi’s record as an academic administrator has been similarly outstanding: he has served for years as Chairman and Graduate Director of the Rutgers University Department of Urban Planning and Policy Development, founding Director of the Rutgers Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Coordinator of the Hubert Humphrey Program, and a Senior Associate at Oxford University. His tenure in these positions has brought a noticeable expansion and the attraction of new and promising research funding and outstanding domestic and international talent. Among Amirahmadi’s doctoral students have been Pooya Alaedini, David Gladstone, Tatiana Wah, Weiping Wu, Grant Saff, Jong Haw Park, Jose Punsoda and numerous other prolific scholars who have made significant contributions in their own right.
Arguably, Amirahmadi’s most significant contributions have been in the area of U.S.‑Iran relations. He founded U.S.-Iran Conference Inc. in 1991, which developed into the American Iranian Council, Inc. (AIC) in 1997. In terms of its impact and quality of its programs, AIC is the oldest and most influential organization on U.S.-Iran relations: it hosted the historic speech by then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in 2000, which led to a lifting of sanctions on key items and issuance of regret for historical wrongs; and organized the historic Karubi-Specter (the late Senator Arlen Specter) meeting at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York that year. Mr. Karubi, now a leader of the Green Movement, was then the Speaker of Iran’s Parliament at that time.
Among AIC’s other contributions include co-organizing (with the Center for World Dialogue) the historic Barry Rosen-Abbas Abdi (a captive and a captor) meeting at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris in 1998. AIC has also organized events involving such leading figures as Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry, Senator Chuck Hagel, Admiral Bill Fallon, the late Secretary Cyrus Vance and a range of other leaders in the U.S., Iran, the Arab world, Europe, and other key centers of ideas and policymaking. Among AIC’s past employees have been Alidad Mafinezam and Trita Parsi.
Amirahmadi’s work as a scholar and peace builder and frequent presence in Iran, particularly at times of national difficulty such as the war with Iraq and several devastating earthquakes, has been covered extensively in the Iranian media for over two decades. His published essays in Persian on Civil Society in the mid-1990s were pioneering and highly influential in the civil society movement that brought President Mohammad Khatami to power in 1997. His book in Farsi on “Political Society, Civil Society and National Development” has been widely read and influential in Iran. He has also been in the forefront of the advocacy for free elections in Iran.
A life dedicated to knowledge, reconciliation, and international development has prepared Amirahmadi well to stand for election as President of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the elections scheduled for June 14, 2013. Being a bridge builder, peace maker and economic manager, Dr. Amirahmadi is particularly suited for Iran’s Presidency at this time when the country faces factional infighting, conflict with the US, and economic malaise. He seeks the support of all Iranians and peace-loving world citizens in his continuing quest for national solidarity, sustainable progress and international cooperation. It is only through this path that, in his view, Iran can become a secure land with contented people.