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In 1891, a series of protests broke out in important centers of population in Iran. The agitations started first in Tehran, the capital city of the country, and Shiraz, an important provincial town of about 20,000 inhabitants. By September, popular unrest had spread to three other cities--Tabriz, Isfahan, and Mashhad--and, in the final months of the year, many other towns joined what was by then a spirited national movement that crossed ethnic, class, and gender boundaries. By January 1892, popular discontent had become almost universal across the country. Different classes of the population in various parts of the Qajar state (1789-1925) had entered a nationwide excitement of unprecedented scale. Benefiting from a national network of telegraph lines and modern postal services that had developed decades earlier, the protests in 1891-92 taught Qajar officials and subjects alike the unique power of coordinated collective action. Thanks to the global connections that had emerged over the course of the nineteenth century, Iranians in diaspora were also quite active throughout this unfolding drama. Keen observers of major political changes around the world, Persian dissidents in Europe, Russia, India, and the Ottoman Empire had done much to contribute to the tenor and course of the protests.

The principal demand that people articulated over the course of this popular movement was a well-defined political one. They called, first and foremost, for the cancellation of a concession that the central government had granted to a British subject in order to form a private foreign monopoly over the heretofore indigenously owned and operated tobacco industry in Iran. For many, the tobacco concession was representative of other agreements and accords that Qajar officials had signed in the previous years and decades. To them, these concessions appeared unfair and unequal, in effect favoring Europeans and European entities over Iranian subjects and national interests. Some in fact accused the authorities, or the person of the shah, of parceling out to Western entities the resources and territories of the country. For this reason, the most radical elements throughout this period called for the cancellation of all concessions and the expulsion of all Western subjects and corporations from the country. Others found an opportunity in the ongoing social upheaval to express their pent-up frustrations with the overall conditions of life and with certain other policies of the Qajar officialdom. For decades, large segments of the population were unhappy with the authorities' handling of excessive taxation, price inflation, unemployment, food scarcity, and the declining standards of living--problems that had affected their daily lives and that had pushed many to flee to neighboring countries.

As the nationwide movement became volatile and inexorable, the shah and his high ministers were compelled to bow down to the primary demand of the protesters and to shoulder the unreasonable terms of liquidating the British tobacco corporation. By late January 1892, the central government had accepted the colossal cost of the settlement with the tobacco company and, with it, the permanent damage to Iran's international standing. It was only then that the country witnessed a gradual decline of the agitations. Popular dissatisfaction with the policies of the central government continued nonetheless. The Tobacco Protest thus marked the first phase of a revolutionary movement that would soon lead to other demands, including calls for a constitution and a parliamentary government.

Historians of the Tobacco Protest have provided different interpretations of the events in 1891-92, in part because of their competing assumptions with respect to the path that eventually took Iran to the Constitutional Revolution of 1905-11. Some, for example, have highlighted the critical role of radicals, agitators, merchants, and secular intellectuals in the making of a movement that was motivated by a growing sense of nationalism, anti-colonial sentiments, and ideals of popular sovereignty. (1) Others have emphasized the prominent role of religious groups--clerics, seminarians, and their followers particularly--throughout 1891-92. (2) To this day, the Tobacco Protest has remained a cause celebre for those who eulogize the involvement of the religious institutions in combating monarchical tyranny and foreign interventions in Iran. A third class of scholars have argued that the crisis had much to do with the geostrategic rivalry between the Russian and British empires in the Middle East and Central Asia, and the clash of different groups of Iranians--government officials, merchants, and clerics--who espoused their interests. (3) Different (though somewhat complementary) as the overarching contentions of these studies tend to be, what they have in common is their disregard for the bottom-up forces that were equally important for the making of the Tobacco Protest. For this reason, the social and environmental context of the agitations, which could help us get a better sense of the political agency of the masses of people who belonged to the lower socioeconomic strata, have been glossed over consistently in the literature. The scholarship has thus focused on the political and intellectual account of the 1891-92 crisis because the unstated assumption of many scholars has been that much of the country followed the politics of the elites and the middle classes, and that it did so rather mindlessly.

Reading through several different categories of published and archival sources, this article inquires into a set of issues that pertain to the socio-environmental context of the Tobacco Protest. The discussion below demonstrates that Qajar Iran faced a major public health crisis in 1890-92, a time period that was particularly important for the formation and manifestation of public dissent in the country. The contention here is that vast segments of Persian society, especially the poor and the underclass population, struggled perhaps more than ever before with threats and dire consequences of germs and epidemics. A considerable number of ordinary endemic maladies had joined some new contagions to paralyze the everyday life of average people in just about all parts of the Qajar state. The public health crisis added much to the suffering of the groups who had long been affected adversely by the economic and political transformations of the country over the course of the nineteenth century. Meanwhile, the response on the part of the officials, though reasonable to an extent, seemed insufficient and did not fully address the main causes of the crisis; instead, it laid bare the usual inefficiency of the central administration in dealing with major forces that undermined the daily life of average people. The problems that the officials had in containing epidemics symbolized the kind of ineffectiveness that characterized their dealing with other recurrent social ills--such as poverty, food scarcity, extortion, and abuse of power by certain elements within the Qajar state--that frustrated so many different classes of the population throughout the previous years and decades. In brief, then, the public health crisis of 1890-92 precipitated or provided additional justification for the agitations of the Tobacco Protest.

Because of the recurrent nature of the public health crises in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, much of what is discussed below is also relevant to the material context that brought about the Constitutional Revolution of 1905-11, and to that of many more localized revolts, rebellions, and agitations that took place before the Tobacco Protest. Germs and epidemics were not the only cause of protest and revolution in Iran in this period, but they were an important factor and can tell us much about the context that brought so many people into the ranks of agitators in different parts of the country.

Historians of Europe have long stressed the importance of epidemics and public health crises in the making of social unrest in the nineteenth century. In study after study, they have demonstrated that threats of germs and killer diseases often strained and tested social cohesion because the crises they engendered "brought to surface latent social antagonisms" in a given community. (4) Scholars have been quick to point out, however, that the social agitations caused by outbreaks of cholera and other epidemics did not generate the kind of popular dissatisfaction that would result in a national movement against the policies of a given European government. (5) Epidemics, in other words, did not lead to major popular movements such as the one for the extension of suffrage or the revolutions of 1830 and 1848. (6) Scholars focusing on other parts of the world have, however, demonstrated the very opposite. They have emphasized the importance of the environment, outbreaks of epidemics, and poor sanitation in the making of the kinds of popular agitations that were eventually integrated into major national movements of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. (7) In broad agreement with the literature on Europe, historians of the Middle East have tended to underscore the political and intellectual context of revolutionary movements in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, but have thus far given little space to the ecological forces that may have contributed to the making of these historical episodes. (8) There are, admittedly, a few notable exceptions. These are historians who have produced studies that focus on the development of public health measures and the rise of popular consciousness over the issue of hygiene in the run-up to and during the Iranian Constitutional Revolution of 1905-11. But much could be added to what these pioneering attempts have demonstrated, especially regarding the material and socio-environmental circumstances of this revolutionary era in Iranian and Middle Eastern history. (9) Building on this relatively new and promising literature, but taking issue with many of the previous studies of national movements and revolutions in the Middle East, this essay demonstrates through a case study on Iran that germs and diseases were not an unimportant factor in the making of popular movements and revolutions in the late nineteenth century. The contention here is thus a corrective, not a dismissal, of the existing literature, but this correction is of real consequence for how we think about popular movements and revolutionary politics in this period.


The factors that contributed to the public health crisis in 1890-92 had much to do with the more or less free circulation of germs, vectors, and diseases throughout the Middle East and around the world over the course of the nineteenth century. The repeated manifestations of some of the greatest pandemics of the century in the Qajar state were in part a result of the social and economic integration of the country in this period and its ever-multiplying ties to neighboring regions and to the world at large. The increased flow of goods, animals, and people through the country's long borders and multiple seaports meant that germs and diseases old and new found their way to ever larger numbers of people in and around the country.

This globalization of trade in Qajar Iran, accompanied as it was with repeated public health crises, had become a boon and a bane much earlier in the century. (10) Despite considerable efforts to improve the standards of hygiene and sanitation in British India and the Ottoman Empire, the pilgrim centers of Mecca and Medina, the Shiite holy sites of Iraq and Syria, and major urban centers of the Arab and Turkish lands, as well as key centers of trade and worship in India and Afghanistan, had remained some of the most fertile ground for the generation and transmission of major pandemics of the century, such as plague and cholera. (11) To the north, Russia was also a frequent source of important cross-regional epidemics such as deadly strains of influenza. The growing number of diplomats, travelers, merchants, petty traders, pilgrims, seminarians, and migrant workers who visited these and other parts of the world and who returned to the Qajar state served throughout much of the century as an important factor in the dissemination of germs and illnesses. But not all diseases in nineteenth-century Iran were epidemics imported from abroad. The country was susceptible to a range of endemic infections as well. (12) Still, the economic and transportation revolution of the century, which entailed the extensive use of railways, steam navigation, regular postal mail, and better roads and highways in many different parts of the world, as well as in and around Iran, had brought with it a new phase of globalization, which was the hallmark of nineteenth-century modernity and capitalism. It was in this regional and global context that contagions that previously could not travel beyond their specific home environments had found their way to new regions of the world. To give but one example, numerous visitations of cholera in Iran and in other parts of the world in the nineteenth century were traced back to "the banks of the Ganges River where the Cholera bacillus had been thriving for centuries in its warm waters and the intestines of its neighborly human hosts." (13) It was, as one historian has explained, the "penetration of the East-India Company into inner Hindustan and the globalization of trade with the Indian sub-continent [that] provided the Cholera bacillus with a suitable vector through which it could spread on an international scale." (14)

This issue--the ever-intensifying interconnectedness of Iran and the rest of the globe, including some of the regions that generated and transferred the greatest pandemics of the century--posed a serious problem that the Persian government had, for some time, endeavored to address. Ever since the 1866 international sanitary conference in Istanbul, for instance, monitoring the flow of goods and people into the Qajar state and instituting quarantine and prophylactic measures when necessary had become a priority to the developing public health policies of the officials in Tehran. (15) In the period under consideration, more specifically, the spread of cholera in Mecca, Hijaz, Syria, and Iraq throughout the latter half of 1889 became almost immediately a major concern of the Persian government. (16) The Bureau of Public Health (Idara-yi Hifz al-Sihha), a new and still developing institution in the capital, issued in September of that year a series of guidelines to the country's border towns and port cities specifying the terms of the cordons sanitaires and detailing how officials were to inspect and, if necessary, disinfect goods and people entering Iran. As the official gazette reported, "firm and strict quarantines" were imposed in Bushihr, other port cities of the Persian Gulf, and major border crossings with the Ottoman state throughout much of 1889-91. (17)

In contrast to such official pronouncements, European observers expressed doubts about the rigor and effectiveness of the preventive measures introduced by the central government. In November 1889, for example, one eyewitness reported:
It was said that the man in charge of the quarantine in Persia made it
only a means of gaining money from travelers: those who paid enough
money could pass on without detention, others who gave less were
detained one day or two days or longer according to the price they were
willing to pay. (18)

Such problems no doubt hampered the effectiveness of the government policies, although it is important to underscore that the same foreign observers tended to be more generous in their evaluation of public health measures in India or the European states, even when the latter showed similar shortcomings in their endeavors against the onslaught of cholera and other infectious diseases of the century. (19) Still Europeans' critical evaluations tended to paint the picture of an imperfect, perhaps even a faulty, application of sanitary measures in the Qajar state. Like many foreign observers, Iranians viewed the new prophylactic measures with a certain level of skepticism. Some thought that they were not always necessary, while others had problems with their uneven implementation. Such ostensibly reasonable concerns notwithstanding, the imposition of cordons sanitaires, quarantines, fumigation, disinfection, and isolation were emblematic of a much broader attempt on the part of the central government to limit contacts with people and caravans who could have been exposed to dangerous germs and epidemics. (20)

The more or less free entrance of germs, vectors, and diseases into Qajar Iran presented only one set of the problems that contributed to the public health crisis of 1890-92. A second set of factors pertained to the low standards of sanitation and poor hygiene in different parts of the Persian state. Because of the country's changing economic conditions in the previous decades, most Iranian towns and cities had a growing population that lived in abject poverty, worked in places that were squalid at best, or spent their time in neglected quarters and dilapidated and overcrowded buildings. In Tehran, for example, as one European observer described in 1890, the heart of the city was "occupied by a bazaar with a number of eating houses and coffee shops. Every species of offal, excrement, etc., is deposited there. Carcasses of horses, dogs, and other animals, are simply thrown out on the streets." (21) The southcentral part of the city was also known for its working and underclass population, its narrow and unkempt streets and byways, and its shabby neighborhoods and rudimentary "houses" that were little more than slums. One contemporary medical doctor characterized this part of the city in quite bleak terms:
The streets and neighborhoods are narrow and crooked; they are crowded
with people who do not keep themselves clean. The filth of these areas
is enormous especially south of the [main] bazaar and the streets
leading to the Qapuq Square, the cattle market, and the Jewish quarter.
It is not possible to pass through these areas and not smell the
decomposition of some dead creature. (22)

Such conditions were not restricted to the poor and working-class neighborhoods of Tehran. Other towns and cities had similar economic and sanitary problems. The growth of poverty in different parts of Iran since the mid-nineteenth century, especially in its urban areas, had a lot to do with the decline and restructuring of certain trades and industries, the process of enclosure and other forms of pressure in the countryside that brought about large-scale migration of peasants to urban society, and the unemployment and social dislocation that ensued as a result of major economic transformations in the country. (23) Poor and barely subsisting, the underclass population of Qajar towns and cities were often described by foreign observers--with more than a hint of disdain--as "probably among the dirtiest people on earth." (24) Deeply unsettled by their life circumstances, these groups often had difficulty maintaining a hygienic lifestyle or properly disposing their waste, excreta, and used water, practices that had, by the second half of the century, become the hallmark of bourgeois modernity in the wealthiest nations of the world.

The working and underclass population were, however, not the only segments of Qajar society that contributed to the low standards of sanitation and hygiene. In the new age of global interconnections and deadly pandemics, some old practices which were not restricted to any specific group but were shared across the socioeconomic spectrum undermined public health as well. Up to this point, for example, many urban centers had a waste disposal area within the city limits. (25) Now, due to frequent outbreaks of epidemics and the growth of the urban population, such practices had to be reassessed. Up to this point, the sewage system of many families entailed the gradual accumulation of bodily refuse in "shafts" that were "sunk into the ground to a depth of thirty or forty feet." (26) For others, the household sewage drained freely onto the street gutters and was eventually collected in one or more large pits in the city. (27) These exposed passages appeared now to be fertile grounds for the growth of all sorts of deadly germs and infectious diseases. Up to this point, most houses had a pool or puddle where rainwater or water from other sources was collected and recycled for repeated use. This was in fact one of the most important sources of water for the family. Now it seemed that this water was also one of the key sources of pollution. (28) Up to this point, public bathhouses were constructed below the street level in order to "facilitate pumping and carrying water." Now it seemed that their location allowed "sewage and garbage to have easy access" to them. Since private baths were rare or nonexistent, it was also not uncommon to see sick and contagious people bathing next to others in these establishments. In addition, the economical use of water in these bathhouses--in a country that was devoid of extensive rivers and other sources of water--meant that used water was often recycled, which then exposed the healthy to the germs and contagions of the sick. (29)

Even more problematic was the system that distributed "clean" or "drinking" water to different groups of people across a given city. This water was provided in most centers of population through the traditional subterranean waterways (qanats), which were only occasionally sealed from external pollution. It was therefore not unusual for this water to be mixed with used water and waste as was, for instance, reported in Tehran and Khamsa in February and June of 1890, respectively. (30) The subterranean water passages were often supplemented by open surface channels that brought drinking water to various--especially poorer--quarters of the city. But it was not uncommon to see children playing and defecating in these water channels, or people washing their linen, animals, and even the bodies of the deceased in them. In fact, water from "corpse washing" was frequently mixed with the contents of open-surface water passages because cemeteries were situated in close proximity to such passages. (31) That traditional waterways could function as the destination for used water was noted by a number of observers in this period, including the following medical authorities who explained the system that distributed water in Tehran:
The town receives its water from hills situated a few miles away. "The
place abounds," Dr. Daniloff says, "in reservoirs and wells which are
nothing but holes leading straight down into the aqueducts, and lying
on a level with the ground, without being protected by any fences or
frameworks. Here the inhabitants perform their ritual ablutions, wash
their linen, and use the same water for drinking purposes." (32)

How "ancient" these practices and structural problems that were shared across the socioeconomic spectrum may have been is hard to say, but there were now pressing needs to reevaluate them, especially in light of urban population growth and the recurrence of major public health crises in the country. Overhauling such practices and institutions, and introducing thoroughgoing sanitary reforms, however, required bureaucratic efficiency and a staggering investment, which the Qajar state, decentralized and fiscally crippled as it was, had difficulty summoning. Throughout much of the nineteenth century, as one scholar has pointed out, "hygiene and sanitation were [thus] casualties of a poor economic condition and the prevailing [administrative] disorder, which prevented the implementation of any form of centralized administrative policies in the peripheries" and, to an extent, the center of the country. (33)

Despite such structural challenges, the authorities had still managed to develop step by step certain policies to raise the sanitary standards of many urban centers. As early as 1813, for example, European methods of vaccinating children against smallpox had been introduced in the country. In addition, more systematic forms of medical education for both learned and popular groups had been made possible through the translation or publication of a series of books authored by physicians familiar with cutting-edge Western medicine. By the mid-nineteenth century, there were numerous examples of concrete steps that were taken by the authorities for the purpose of safeguarding public health in the country, especially in major towns and cities. (34) These efforts only intensified in the second half of the century. (35) By the late 1880s, for instance, a Public Health Council (Majlis-i Sibhat) was active in Tehran, where the foremost medical authorities of the country--trained as they were in the Galenic, Avicennian, and modern medical systems--met and discussed different methods of controlling the causes of mortality and of improving the sanitary measures adopted by the state. (36) The beginnings of this "Sanitary Council" in fact went back to 1867, when the central government had started to put into action a series of initiatives aimed at preventing the recurrent outbreaks of infectious diseases, especially cholera and plague. (37)

The programs launched by this and other government bodies gradually increased in number, and additional efforts were soon made to implement them in different parts of the country. By the early 1890s, authorities in major cities spent a portion of their public funds on paving the streets with cobblestones, providing gas lighting in certain sections of their towns, and widening the narrow and often overcrowded streets and bazaars. (38) They also developed stricter policies for the disposal of waste and used water. (39) In some urban centers, new itinerant water carriers (saqqas) now ensured the purity of drinking water by transporting it from springs, streams, rivers, or subterranean water channels outside the city limits. (40) In places such as Tehran, the age-old function of "Market Management" (Muhtasib) was now formalized and turned into the Office of City Management (Idara-yi Ibtisabiyya), which was responsible for repairing the pavement and maintaining the basic standards of public health in different quarters. (41) Other urban centers hired staff to keep the streets clean and convey the residents' garbage and waste to areas outside the city limits. (42) In Shiraz, for example, the Chief of Police (Bayglarbaygi) was himself involved in this operation, having introduced a policy of taxing each house one qiran in order to raise the funds required for the daily sweeping of streets and roads. (43) Similarly, the government demanded that individual families create their own subterranean sewage tanks in order to dispose of their organic refuse and used water. (44) People were also asked to keep their houses neat and clean, to wash their clothes regularly, and sweep the streets and areas in front of their houses on a daily basis. (45) In some cities, such as Qazvin, the local authorities provided discretionary funds to the needy and the disadvantaged who could not afford to adopt the new standards of hygiene and sanitation. (46) Useful as these efforts were, Qajar towns and cities remained vulnerable, as was evident with recurrent outbreaks of infectious diseases in the second half of the nineteenth century, and especially in 1890-92.


One intractable problem that continued to undermine the official efforts to improve sanitation resulted from the common practices of disposing of the dead in different parts of the country. The traditional manner of burial entailed wrapping the deceased in a shroud and depositing the body in a shallow grave. Because the majority of people did not embalm their dead or make use of hermetically-sealed coffins, this practice turned many cemeteries and the communities surrounding them into some of the most germ-infested areas in Qajar Iran. Many wealthy or religious families, moreover, had the habit of keeping the corpses of their loved ones for years without disposing of them properly. These families often anticipated that they would inter the bodies in the sacred grounds located in neighboring Ottoman Iraq or in the shrine cities of Mashhad and Qum in the northeast and just south of the capital city. For this reason, they "safeguarded" the bodies until they had the financial resources necessary for such a costly undertaking or until they could secure the relevant official permits (from the Qajar and Ottoman authorities) for the transport of the cadavers overland. (47) To preserve the corpses in the meantime, people made ample use of camphor and "amber juice," wrapped them in shrouds of cotton cloth, placed them in thin and permeable coffins or "felt coverings," and stored them in a private area in a local mosque, mausoleum, or shrine, in a facility at the neighborhood cemetery, or at their own homes and gardens. (48) This "safekeeping of the dead" (bih amanat guzardan), as it was known in the Qajar parlance, could go on for years, sometimes decades, before people arranged for the transportation and burial of the cadavers. (49) Some people also had the habit of using makeshift graves as interim resting places for their loved ones. As one contemporary observer explained,
They [i.e., people]... commit them [i.e., the remains of the deceased]
only temporarily to the earth, laying them in shallow graves, and
covering them with an arched roof of brickwork, which practice accounts
for the horrible smell around graveyards after an outbreak of cholera.
A few months later and long before time has killed the germs of
disease, the bodies are taken up, wrapped in sackcloth, and carried,
slung across the backs of mules, to their distant resting place, sowing
not improbably the seeds of a fresh outbreak as they go. (50)

As noted here, the procession to relocate the corpse was itself problematic. Carried en masse and along with the commercial caravans, the remains of the dead came in close proximity to other travelers, who had little choice but to countenance their stench and deadly trail. (51) Such "caravans of corpses," as bemused and terrified foreign observers sometimes referred to them, were quite dangerous because people were exposed to not just the normal degeneration of the dead bodies but also the germs and infectious diseases that had killed them. As one bewildered medical authority stressed in January 1892, though, "Nothing can [indeed] stop Iranians from sending their corpses to [distant] holy grounds even if the individuals who died had been infected by contagious illness." (52)

To address this problem, the central government had made repeated attempts to alter the common funeral rites. As early as 1846, following a devastating visitation of cholera, the authorities had concluded that the practice of "safekeeping the dead" had to be discontinued. This decision, accompanied as it was by an interest in modern sanitation, had its roots in the introduction of Western medicine in the country in the early part of the century. (53) But as promising as such policies and endeavors may have been, they had not been able to change the long-held beliefs and rituals that undergirded the common burial tradition. New opposition also worked against the sanitary policies of the state. The orthodox religious groups, for example, started a vigorous campaign that retarded the administrative drive to regulate such pernicious obsequies because they were incensed by the state's interference in matters that pertained to expressions of popular piety. Still, the central government did not resign itself to the continuation of widely-held burial rites but continued--out of necessity, and especially in times of epidemics--to assert its right to proscribe the practice of "safekeeping the dead." One such attempt occurred in April 1890 when the authorities in Tehran, following yet another wave of cholera, issued strict guidelines about funeral rites and practices. The decree instructed that "all the bodies that have previously been kept in trust must now be buried [properly]." From this point on, the edict went on to state, no one should keep their dead "in trust" and thereby jeopardize the wellbeing of others in the community. For a time, the government also suspended the passage of pilgrims and "corpse caravans" to the neighboring Ottoman state. (54) As with earlier efforts, the social and political elites (a'yan va ashraf), who were themselves steeped in the beliefs that upheld such rites and tradition, were the first to bribe their way out of these measures, even though it did seem that the state officials in charge of implementing such sanitary policies were now quite serious about them. (55)

Under such circumstances, the official endeavors met with limited success in most parts of the country. There were still many families who kept their loved ones "in trust," and there were many cases of people conveying the remains of their loved ones to distant holy sites. The body of the Qajar official Abd Allah Khan Ala' al-Mulk, for instance, who had died on 3 February 1891, was conveyed to Ottoman Iraq in mid-January 1892. (56) The body of his brother Yahya Khan Mushir al-Dawla, another high-ranking Qajar statesman, who was known to have died of a contagious disease, was conveyed to Mashhad later in the same month. (57) Another case, which also attracted a lot of attention in 1891, pertained to the body of a woman in Hamadan which was "kept in trust" for twenty-eight years but had now to be buried properly because of the latest "government decree." The marvelous thing about this instance, which fascinated many in Tehran and beyond, was that her remains evidently "did not show signs of degeneration in any way." (58) Preoccupied with their mortality and with afterlife, many thought that such reports showed that common burial practices were in fact not unsanitary. Faced with cases such as this, and given the importance that the elites and the religious groups attached to burial in the Shiite holy sites, the government was eventually forced to allow the resumption of the passage of the dead to the neighboring Ottoman state as well. By March and April 1891, cadavers were once again being transported through Kirmanshah to the sacred grounds in Iraq. (59)

The common practices for disposing of the dead were not the only problem that undermined official efforts to raise the standards of sanitation. Yet another intractable challenge was the not-so-infrequent distribution and consumption of unhealthy and deleterious food in different towns and cities. Adulterated flour--which often consisted of pulverized wheat and barley mixed with sawdust, salt, ash, or other extraneous ingredients--was, for example, a major source of illness and death throughout much of the century, especially during the frequent periods of food scarcity. (60) Similarly, flour of stale and rotten grain was often marketed in different parts of the country at a price that the lower classes could afford and thus obtain on a regular basis. Equally dangerous was the distribution of the meat from animals that had been infected by some incurable or fatal disease. As in the other cases, the government had made repeated attempts to address the grave threat that the sale and consumption of such unsafe food posed to the urban population. These efforts had even met with some success in the previous decades. Still, the problem persisted into the latter part of the century for several predictable reasons. Unscrupulous producers and retailers continued to market what were essentially harmful consumables; large numbers of people--poor and economically challenged as they were--could not afford better or safer alternatives; and the government was not always able to identify the offenders before the issue had become quite serious. The distribution and consumption of unwholesome meat and flour thus continued to trouble different communities over the course of the century. (61)

In the period under consideration, this problem surfaced in Nishapur, where the outbreak of an unidentified disease among "sheep and goats" resulted in a number of deaths in the winter of 1889-90. The issue, as was often the case, had its origins in the sale and slaughter of sick animals, although it is likely that because contact with domestic animals was quite common, the disease was also transferred to people who were around the sick animals but did not necessarily sell or consume their meat. (62) In the spring and fall of 1890, there were then several cases of "cattle plague" (gavmiran) in Kurdistan, and in Shiraz and its surroundings. (63) The situation in Kurdistan was particularly grave. "The cattle plague is very severe," noted one traveler who passed through the length and breadth of the region in October 1890. In describing the circumstances of the little mountain village of Kochanes in Ottoman Kurdistan, she explained, "The village has already lost 135 of its herd, and I seldom go out without seeing men dragging carcasses to be thrown over the cliff." The threat posed by the mass death of their cattle was so traumatic that many thought this was simply the beginning of the cataclysmic end of time. "The people believe," the same observer stressed, "that the men will [all] die next year." (64) The situation in Kochanes was hardly any different from that in Persian Kurdistan. The following year, moreover, a disease among cattle and water buffalos broke out in several parts of Azarbayjan. The provincial town of Savjubulagh was hit hardest. The malady was reported to have caused inflammation in the animals' necks that was the size of "an apple" or "a pomegranate" as well as severe reactions in the form of numerous pimples on their skin. The infected cattle and water buffalos soon died. The disease was infectious, and there were reports of its transmission to those who touched or consumed the animals. As in many other such cases, unscrupulous owners and retailers distributed the infected meat in the market, which was in turn consumed by a sizable population. In the final months of the year, therefore, reports from the area indicated that there was an ever-larger number of cases of serious illness in the province. The infected consumers complained about large blisters on their hands and arms or, more seriously, about "inflammation" in their livers. (65)


Under the conditions outlined here, Qajar society went through episodic public health crises over the course of the nineteenth century. These disasters appeared only to have increased in number and frequency in the latter part of the century. By the early 1890s, moreover, the domestic and transnational forces that determined the state of public health in the country were themselves affected by the unfolding of a major medical disaster that began in earnest in 1889-90 and continued without any significant signs of relief until 1892. During these years, the most serious challenge was the repeated outbreak of infectious diseases in different parts of the Qajar state. (66) Cholera (vaba) and plague (ta'un), the deadliest of these diseases, remained key elements of the crisis for much of this time. As early as August 1889, for example, epidemics were reported in Bushihr, Shushtar, Muhammira, and Kirmanshah. (67) The source of the outbreaks was, as usual, the transnational connections that linked Iran to its neighbors. The maladies had their origins in the Ottoman and Indian states, which struggled rather unsuccessfully to contain them throughout much of this period. (68) In the fall of 1889 and the winter of 1890, the epidemics devastated border towns such as Khanaqayn, and then made inroads into key population centers inside Iran, including Kirmanshahan, Nahavand, Tuysirkan, Hamadan, Malayir, Qum, and Bebekam. (69) By late January, cholera was claiming the lives of at least four or five people per day in Kurdistan. (70) Other regions did not fare any better, and there was every indication that the crisis could worsen very quickly.

In response to this development, the central government ordered an extraordinary Sanitary Council to convene. This was an administrative body wherein a number of Persian and European physicians could provide additional advice to the authorities about specific policies to be adopted. (71) It was perhaps because of the recommendations of this Council, the quarantines imposed in several key cities as a result, and other similar prophylactic measures that the officials were able to control the situation. By late January 1890, therefore, they announced that the epidemics had been successfully eradicated from the country. (72) This report was then confirmed in April by a number of European medical observers, who revealed that the crisis had disappeared in the western parts of the Qajar state, the region that had been affected most severely by the epidemics. Such encouraging assessment of the situation notwithstanding, other accounts continued to show that the threat of outbreak still distressed the public for much of that year and beyond. Telegrams from tourists and travelers also stated that by March 1890, cholera was wreaking havoc in Khurasan. (73) The crisis deepened gradually until, in early 1892, the entire country faced a cholera epidemic that was unprecedented in its scope and impact. (74) Meanwhile, there were outbursts of plague in several other parts of the country. In mid-May 1890, for instance, there was an outbreak of the bubonic plague (nakbusbi-yi dummal) in Qal'a Darab Khan, near Kirmanshah. The illness was reported to have caused "fever" for three consecutive days and was accompanied by the appearance of buboes (danbak) under the arms or on the thighs and breasts; within a short while the victims were faced with the inevitable death. Within just a few days of the initial report from the area, a sizable number of people had been infected, many of whom died as a result. This prompted the authorities to intervene in the matter expeditiously. They dispatched some fifty cavalrymen and physicians to the village and imposed cordons sanitaires throughout the area. (75)

Cholera and plague were not the only public health menaces that threatened Qajar society in 1890-92. A number of other infectious diseases contributed to the crisis as well. In February 1890, typhus was reported as a grave challenge in Tehran. (76) In November and December, an outbreak of smallpox (abila) in Astarabad killed some 500 children between the ages of one and ten. (77) That year rubella (surkhaja) and measles (surkhak) led to quite a few deaths among children in Tabriz, and dysentery (zusantariya) was rampant in Zanjan. (78) The following year, in January 1891, smallpox (abila) was reported in Sabzivar, even though preventive measures such as inoculation had already been introduced in the area. (79) By April, Sabzivar was engulfed by other deadly illnesses as well, including among them typhus (muhriqa), typhoid fever (mutbiqa), and an infectious throat disease (dard-i galu) that caused a large number of deaths. (80) Equally troubling were the frequent outbreaks of smallpox, measles, syphilis, and a range of skin and eye diseases that had become common in various parts of the country, including Khurasan. (81) Many of these infectious maladies were known to the medical community, and Qajar physicians and their European colleagues based in Iran had some established methods of lessening the severity of symptoms or, in some cases, treating them. Others were strange and unknown illnesses that neither the general public nor the medical community knew how to handle. The outbreak of a disease in a village of Isfahan that induced people to cough blood was a case in point. The illness was accompanied by fever that could not be controlled, and people who became ill died within a couple of days. Local doctors could offer these patients little help and seemed unable to even identify what the disease was. (82) Such strange maladies that frustrated the skills of even the most accomplished of the physicians put a great deal of stress on key population centers in the country.

By far the most common and widespread medical problem in this period was malaria (tab-i nawba, literally "intermittent fever"), which was considered a "chronic" and "very difficult to treat" illness. (83) The disease was prevalent in many different parts of the Qajar state because the prevailing methods of water transport, storage, irrigation, and drainage (including the existence of a large number of open cesspools) encouraged the breeding of anopheles mosquitoes. (84) The malady was so ubiquitous that large numbers of people (including many of the elites) suffered from it throughout the year. (85) Not even the shah was immune. (86) Malaria often killed people, but Qajar medicine had evidently developed ways to address some of the milder versions of it. Severe cases of this disease, however, involved loss of consciousness due to uncontrollable fever (nawba-yi gbashi). (87) During the period under review, this illness broke out with different degrees of severity in a number of areas such as Azarbayjan, Tehran, Khurasan, Kirman, Luristan, and Fars, among others. In most cases, people thought of it as a serious and life-threatening medical problem while the authorities considered it a common disease that was an inescapable part of everyday life. (88)

More dangerous, though, was the spread during this period of a malignant winter illness, thought to be "of an erisipelatous, inflammatory nature." (89) The infection, known simply as a "throat disease" (dard-i galu), broke out in various parts of the Qajar state and killed many, especially the young and the old. (90) In Shiraz, for example, as early as March 1890, there were reports of a rather large number of people suffering from "severe sore throats" that routinely took the lives of children. (91) Other regions announced a similar pattern in 1890 and again the following year. The disease was often combined with a host of other seasonal illnesses ranging from influenza (zukam-i tnusri, nuzla-yi mustuliyya), common head cold (zukam), and catarrh (sarmakhurdagi), to pleurisy (zat al-janb), chest pain (sina dard), pneumonia (zat al-riya), and different varieties of common or severe fevers. (92) The combination of these maladies made the coldest months of 1889-92 the most lethal periods, during which people grappled with grave and often fatal complications.

The extraordinary level of public suffering that came with these "winter illnesses" had a lot to do with the presence of some lethal strains of influenza in these years as well. The fall of 1889 and the winter of 1890 were accompanied by one of the greatest influenza pandemics of the century, which had brought the deadly virus from Russian Siberia to different parts of the globe, including the Middle East. By February 1890, within just a few months of its arrival in Iran, medical reports estimated that some 6,000 children had died of influenza or the secondary illnesses and conditions arising from it. (93) By March 1890, as one medical authority reported, at least half of the population in the country was suffering from the disease, which was frequently followed by bouts of pneumonia. (94) The severity of the infection and the complications arising from it were such that at its height, the epidemic claimed the lives of "fifty to seventy" or "even more" people a day in a city like Tehran. (95) The following year was much the same. Another lethal strain of influenza, known as the "European flu" (zukam-i Farangi), struck the country. (96) Like the previous year, those who were infected often died, frequently after enduring a great deal of pain and suffering. Throughout much of the winter of 1891, many in the capital city, for instance, grappled with this and the common seasonal illnesses which had now become quite dangerous, even fatal. The situation was so precarious that most people worried about their very survival. One contemporary observer captured the general mood in the country in the midst of all this when he committed to his diary that he could not but contemplate his own mortality under the circumstances and asked only to be granted a less painful death: "Influenza is now ravishing the city. To die [in this way] is indeed very strange and unsettling. May God grant us all a better end." (97) The devastating epidemic in the fall of 1890 and the winter of 1891 was followed by yet another outbreak of deadly influenza in the following year, a period that witnessed the greatest extent of popular agitations throughout the country. Just like the previous years, the breach of the "Guarded Domains" of the Qajar state in the coldest months of 1891-92 generated an enormous level of public suffering. (98)

The simultaneous outbreak of so many infectious diseases should be understood against the backdrop of a climate and an economy that were both described in these years as uneven and unpredictable. That the general environment of the country was fragile and unforgiving; that food, fuel, and other life necessities were scarce; and that large segments of society had long been reduced to poverty had all contributed to make so many different parts and classes of Qajar society vulnerable, perhaps more than ever before, to both old and new germs and epidemics. As J. MacLean, the British Consul-General in Mashhad at the time, explained,
The great seasonal and diurnal variations of the temperature... are
very trying to persons of weak constitution, throwing, as they do, a
great strain on the lungs, skin, and kidneys. Add to this the
inadequate clothing of the poor in cold weather, the scarcity of fuel,
and the draughtiness of the houses, and it will be readily understood
that the commonest diseases are intermittent and remittent fevers,
bronchitis, and respiratory diseases and rheumatism. (99)

Such were the conditions of life, according to the consul-general, in Northern Khurasan throughout much of 1890-91, but these words would have been equally valid with respect to the other regions in the country in this period.

The public health crisis in 1890-92 should be understood in the context of people's general lack of access to modern drugs and effective medical care as well. This problem was long known to the central government, which had made efforts to secure essential medicine and a sufficient number of physicians in various districts and provinces. The general poverty of so many different groups, along with the continuing budgetary crisis of the state, had limited the scope of these efforts and their overall impact. (100) For this reason, there were frequent reports of people being in search of effective medical care or reduced to begging foreign travelers for the most rudimentary medications. This is shown, for example, in the wanderings of one Englishman across central Iran in 1890-91. He explained the situation he witnessed in the course of his journey through a village between Yazd and Abarguh:
The next place passed was Chah-Beg on the kavir, a mud fort about 5,150
feet in elevation. The inhabitants were all suffering from
skin-disease; the hair of many was falling off in patches, and they
were clamorous for medicine, so I dispensed a carbolic lotion in large
quantities to them. In fact, at nearly every village I went to the
people wanted medicines, and got quite angry unless they had them.
Having had some experience of their expectations in this direction on a
previous journey, I had provided myself with twelve gross of
antibilious pills and lots of quinine, which went a long way. Bad eyes
are what they appear to suffer from chiefly. (101)

The situation in Chah-Beg and the other villages referenced above was indeed representative of the general shortage of modern and effective medicine across the country, which exacerbated the public health crisis in this period.


Given the circumstances outlined above, it is not surprising that the historical records from these years dwelled at length on what must have appeared an astonishing presence of death and disease in society and among so many different groups of people. Many government officials, for example, reported that they were taken ill throughout much of the period under consideration. Over the course of 1891, the governors of Fars, Isfahan, and Azarbayjan, key provinces that experienced the most serious instances of social unrest, revealed that they were quite sick at the most sensitive time, when they were expected to take steps in order to pacify the widening popular agitations. (102) Many senior officials and foreign diplomats in the capital city were also unwell for much of this time. Sir Henry Drummond Wolff, the British Minister in Tehran and one of the key architects of the tobacco concession, for instance, was forced to leave his post in the midst of the Tobacco Protest and just a few months after arriving in Iran because of a series of "severe" medical conditions he had developed during his mission. (103) Another case in point was Muhammad Hasan Khan I'timad al-Saltana, a senior minister of the shah based for the most part in Tehran. In his diary devoted to 1890-92, I'timad al-Saltana chronicled a dozen episodes of medical problems that he experienced one after another; several of these were in fact very serious and life threatening. (104) The shah himself endured quite a few bouts of disease and near-death experiences, and he devoted a considerable portion of his own diary from these months to detailing the deteriorating health conditions of many people around him. (105) In short, the contemporary evidence makes it clear that dozens of people around the shah and in the capital city, along with some senior officials in the provinces, suffered from one or the other of the maladies that raged in the country. If such was the declining health conditions of the most senior of the political elites, who were in fact very well cared for, we may surmise that the medical problems of the other social classes, far less protected as they were from the vagaries of germs and epidemics, were significantly worse.

Contemporary reports of severe illness and near-death experiences in the capital city and beyond are supplemented by others that focus more specifically on death and dying. These, perhaps more than anything else, give us a sense of the fragility of life and the level of desperation people must have felt throughout these years. It is now clear that in Tehran, for example, a rather large number of individuals connected to the central government died over the course of just two to three years. The number of people around the highest personality in the land who were taken ill and then met their unexpected ends was not insignificant in fact. In January 1890, for instance, the shah's granddaughter through his son Kamran Mirza Na'ib al-Saltana died at age 12 from complications arising from influenza and typhus. (106) That same month, Mirza Kazim Khan Nizam al-Mulk, Minister of the Army, passed away because of influenza. (107) Soon after Aqa Riza Khan Iqbal al-Saltana, Director of the Royal Armory, relinquished life due to "sikta" (i.e., sudden and undiagnosed death or apoplexy). (108) In early February, the shah's youngest son, who was only four months old, breathed his last because of an unidentified illness. (109) A year later, in January 1891, Na'ib al-Saltana's son, Navvab Fath Ali Khan, perished due to malarial fever. (110) In February of that year, two of the paternal aunts of the shah, named Nur Jahan Khanum and Dil Shad Khanum, and one of his senior ministers, Mirza 'Abd Allah 'Ala' al-Mulk, expired one after another. They were followed in March by the shah's onetime poet and companion, Fath Allah Khan Shaybani. (111) In August, Jahangir Khan Amir Tuman, Minister of Industry, passed away because of sikta. (112) In September, Muhammad Ibrahim Khan Vazir Nizam, a maternal uncle of Na'ib al-Saltana, along with the latter's deputy governor, met their ends due to some unidentified illnesses. (113) In January 1892, Nasr Allah Khan Nasr al-Mulk and Yahya Khan Mushir al-Dawla--two other senior ministers in the government--died of influenza, followed immediately by one of the shah's mothers-in-law, one of his wives known as Qamar Taj Khanum, and yet another member of the royal family known as Mahtaban Khanum Qamar al-Saltana. (114) Disease and death continued to be a major threat in the royal harem until May, when Shukuh al-Saltana, another of the shah's wives and the mother of the crown prince, gave up life due to an unknown medical problem. (115) The death of so many people directly attached to the royal court was extremely unusual even with the relatively high mortality rate of Iran in the late nineteenth century.

The fear, frustration, and general air of uncertainty that such unrelenting illness and death generated among the senior officials and the highest personalities in the land were captured perhaps most clearly in the entries I'timad al-Saltana wrote in his personal diary throughout this period. (116) In his description of the affairs of the people around the shah, I'timad al-Saltana provided a vivid account of how the royal household fared under the threat of destruction while many of its key members perished one after another. In one of his evocative entries, dated 21 February 1891, for example, he confided, "I had an audience with the shah [earlier in the day]. [I was informed that] Anis al-Dawla [the favorite and the most important of the shah's wives at the time] is extremely ill.... The royal harem now revolves around this one lady. If she dies, then woe is Iran." (117) In an entry for 21 January 1892, he then gave an account of his visit to the royal harem in order to make a polite visit to Anis al-Dawla, who was unwell once again. On this occasion, he caught yet another glimpse of the crisis in the royal court:
I went to the private quarters of the palace to pay my respects [to
Anis al-Dawla]. On the way, I saw that they [i.e., the palace servants]
were carrying a corpse. They said it was Ghulam 'Ali Khan, son of [his
highness] Saham al-Dawla Nuri.... [When just a few minutes later] I
arrived at the door of the royal harem, I saw [yet] another corpse that
the palace servants were carrying out. It then became clear that Hajji
Ghulam 'Ali, the Chief Eunuch of the shah, had just passed [as well].

The high rate of mortality suggested in these and similar statements gives the impression that the palace must have at times looked like a house of the dead. Preoccupied as he was with the fragility of life and the prospect of his own death, news and encounters such as these generated in I'timad al-Saltana a great deal of anxiety. They also led him to question the effectiveness of public health measures undertaken in the country. (119) His concerns were shared by other members of the political elite in Tehran.

If such was the extent of fear, frustration, and fatalities among the most well-protected classes of the Qajar state, the generality of people, more vulnerable as they were to death and disease, must have experienced far greater hardship and exasperation in these years. It is unfortunate that we do not have a systematic record of the rate of mortality outside Tehran and among the ordinary people. But anecdotal references seem to corroborate their far greater level of stress. In the city of Ardabil, for example, we know that as early as February 1890, more than 20 people were dying per day because of the various diseases ravaging the city. (120) Reports from other parts of the country indicate that this was likely not an exceptional case.

That the elites were not the only groups affected by the unusual prevalence of germs and epidemics in 1890-92 is also illustrated by the anecdotal references we have about the experience of soldiers in the Qajar armed forces. While earnest efforts had long been made by the government to stop or contain outbreaks of disease in the army, soldiers continued for much of the century to be at risk because they were drafted from different districts and provinces, and because they were routinely exposed to new people, new places, and new contagions all the time. Illness among the troops was, therefore, a major problem in and of itself, but it was also a great public health hazard for the communities that came into contact with them because soldiers, when dispatched to different areas of the country, transferred epidemics along their itineraries. In the period under consideration, several regiments reported outbreaks of epidemics in their ranks. In one case, we learn of the Nanak Regiment in Astarabad, which had a rather large number of soldiers identified as seriously ill at the time of their preliminary inspection in August 1890. (121) Other areas in the country reported a similar situation in the army. (122)

The contemporary records described above thus suggest the unusual presence of death and disease during these years. But there is reason to suspect that the public health crisis was even worse than the data adumbrate. This is so because those segments of the Qajar population who were most affected by the public health crisis in these years did not leave a paper trail behind. It is also important to note that record keeping by the government authorities was not all that consistent, especially with respect to the most populated and poorest quarters of the capital city or the many provincial towns and cities in the country. We are left then with a sense that the evidence before us is but the tip of the iceberg. The available reports, skewed and highly selective as they are, focus mostly on the sufferings of the elites, but they nonetheless help us get a sense of the extraordinary scale on which people across Iran were getting ill, dying, and worrying about getting sick and dying during this period.


The foregoing discussion suggests that the Qajar state faced nothing short of a major public health crisis in 1890-92 even though the government had long made efforts to implement a range of policies aimed at addressing serious concerns associated with sanitation, hygiene, and the prevalence of threatening contagions in the country. Such endeavors, and even the considerable success the Qajar officialdom had earned in this arena, had still left a lot to be desired. (123) Part of the problem seems to have been the slow and inefficient enactment of various measures introduced by the central government in the preceding years and decades. For example, while the authorities in Tehran had long pushed for the development of a proper drainage and waste management system, these efforts were realized unevenly in different towns and cities; they were in fact subject to the whims and interests of the local officials in a given area. Whatever the success of the measures that were adopted in earnest, they also appeared insufficient to prevent the incessant outbreaks of infectious diseases that afflicted so many people year after year, and particularly in 1890-92. Another dimension of the public health problem in Qajar Iran was the limited degree to which medicine as a scientific field had progressed internationally, even after the development of bacteriology in the mid-1880s. Many of the diseases that plagued the Persian state had in fact not been fully understood in the most scientifically advanced parts of the globe. Nor was there a broad consensus among the medical practitioners in Europe or elsewhere about the most effective methods of controlling or eradicating the most dangerous epidemics of the century. Under these circumstances, the adoption of expert opinions in Iran had become a formidable task involving a tortuous process for both government and medical authorities alike. (124)

Such considerations, however, were not very meaningful in the estimation of many observers in and outside of Iran. To them, the public health crises had become the marker of a nation in decline. (125) As such, they demanded that the central government act more energetically to establish a more efficient sanitation regime regardless of the challenges involved, including the seemingly insurmountable budgetary requirements for such an enterprise. Given this expectation, radicals and intellectuals agitated for the rapid adoption of measures akin to those in many industrialized states in Europe. The views and opinions of these groups were reflected perhaps most clearly in the issues of a key dissident publication, the Persian weekly Akbtar ("The Star"), which was based in Istanbul but was distributed widely across Iran. (126) In a number of articles, the authors and editors of the Akbtar--who were Iranian subjects based in and outside of the country--sometimes directly and sometimes otherwise, put responsibility for the public health failures on the shoulders of the central administration. A series of news reports and opinion pieces, for example, compared the authorities in Tehran unfavorably to those of their immediate Muslim neighbor--the Ottoman Empire--and exhorted them to be more assertive in implementing measures that would address the unfolding public health disaster in the country. (127) Others compared the Qajar government with the governments of the wealthiest societies in Europe. One news piece published in November 1889 gave an account of how the municipality of London had collected 40,000 French francs in order to award Monsieur Pasteur for treating some 200 English subjects. The report was written in a way that showed tacit disapproval of the local and national authorities in Iran, who displayed far less interest in rewarding or encouraging similar efforts in their country. (128) Another report, published in October 1889, went so far as to argue that the Ottomans and "all [other] civilized states and nations" displayed far more bureaucratic agility and efficiency in the face of major public health crises. (129) The subtext of such editorials was quite clear: The Qajar state, for whatever reason, was not able to protect its citizens the way others did.

The general tenor of many of these articles was on display in an opinion piece published on 9 December 1890. The author argued that:
It is now some time that the sublime government [of Iran] has...
implemented incredible measures to expand the practice of smallpox
inoculation. Except for a few remote districts, people [in the country]
too have come to understand its [many] benefits. But the expansion of
this [practice] has not been given the proper attention and
significance [it deserves] in various parts of Iran. Because the merits
of this good practice are clear to all people, we hope that for this
reason the sublime government of Iran would in accord with its
governmental responsibilities (vazayif-i hukumati)--the safeguarding of
public health is [indeed] one of its main duties (takalif)--engage in
expanding this [practice] in all parts of Iran especially in villages
and [provincial] towns, so that the children of the nation would be
released from the clutches of this easy-to-treat illness which now
results often in death or damage of their limbs. (130)

However faintly expressed, the message in this and many similar articles was to stress the shortcomings or the failures of the measures already promoted by the officials and to encourage them to do more and to become more serious about public health policy.

Some reports and opinion pieces also criticized the state of medical science and medical care in Iran, compared them with those in other countries, and called for the hasty development of both science and practice. The need for more knowledgeable physicians, the establishment of more hospitals, and an increase in the number of medical experts in the country was emphasized in a number of issues throughout 1890-92. (131) One article, for instance, stressed that the single most important thing Iran needed for its development was modern medicine and "the [new] science of the human body" ('ilm-i abdan). The author argued that at that point in time, medicine was far more important than all the other branches of knowledge, including the religious sciences that drew so much of the energy and interest of the younger generations. (132) The importance given to public health was such that the Akhtar began publishing a series of articles on the subject and encouraged its audience to take up better hygiene, watch after their own illnesses, undertake healthful practices, exercise more often, and, above all, uphold basic sanitary standards. (133)

Such editorials, news reports, and opinion pieces were part of a much broader effort by intellectuals and radicals to expose the shortcomings of the Qajar state and raise awareness that the authorities did not fare well when compared with those in the more "civilized" nations of the world. As Amir Afkhami, a leading medical historian of nineteenth-century Iran, has explained,
These intellectuals [often] used the term tamaddon or civilization as
an adjective to describe the advances in Western sanitary science and
through association to malign the [Qajar] authorities by implying that
Iran's lagging sanitary state was a sign of its uncivilized
administration. At the same time, achieving tamaddon became a Utopian
aspiration and a goal through which intellectuals in Iran sought to
establish a more just society wherein the welfare of its citizens would
be paramount. (134)

These sentiments were, in other words, not limited to the articles printed in the Akhtar. They were reflected in other publications as well, including a subversive monthly "newspaper" known as the Qanun ("The Law"), which was based in London but distributed in Iran through a clandestine network of agents and sympathizers.

Founded by Mirza Malkum Khan--the former Persian ambassador to London and one of Iran's most Westernized and influential public intellectuals--the Qanun became almost immediately the most important voice of radical thought during this time. (135) The periodical published in its second issue a list of the social ills that it considered to be the primary grievances of many who opposed the policies of the Qajar administration. Next to widespread poverty, "artificial famine," the "absence of order" in the affairs of the country, as well as extortion and abuse of power by tax agents and state officials, the editorial criticized the appalling state of public health in the country and declared that "our cities [are nothing but] capitals of filth" while "our roads [are] even worse than the [rough] tracks of animals." These were said to be the main causes of the "moaning and groaning of the generality of Iranians." (136) In another issue, the editors of the Qanun listed the problems they saw in the country:
O Brothers! Do you see how we are drowning in a sea of debasement
(mazillat)? Tyranny, famine, cholera, poverty, misery (falakat), apathy
and shamelessness (bi' ari), lack of honor, and all the misfortune
(nikbat) of the world have been brought down to this dear homeland
(vatan) of ours." (137)

Such emotional and explosive statements conflated popular dissatisfaction with the state of public health and that pertaining to socioeconomic and political matters. Published only months before the start of the Tobacco Protest, and in an atmosphere of censorship and repression in the country, they must have had a great deal of impact on many who were already frustrated by their long sufferings and life circumstances.

Nor did these articles represent the sentiments of intellectuals and radicals alone. As opposition papers, the Akbtar and the Qanun reflected, at least up to a certain degree, the feelings and pent-up frustrations of the other sectors of the population as well. Seen against the backdrop of widespread social dislocation among the middle and lower classes of Qajar society, and the latter's general grievances pertaining to their life circumstances, the continuing public health crises exposed in yet another arena many government officials' brazen disregard for the welfare of the general public, their abuse of power and misuse of the country's resources, and what average people increasingly thought to be the unbearable inefficiency of the central administration. This was in fact stated in one opinion piece printed in the Akbtar in the midst of the cholera outbreak in October 1889:
Based on the letters that have been written from Tehran, [the editorial
office can now report that] the people of the Iranian capital are
panic-stricken (khayli mutivahhisb) because cholera is being
transmitted from Baghdad to Kirmanshahan [with no significant
hindrance], and [people] are thus very critical (ziyada az hadd shaki)
of the Iranian government officials for their lack of due attention to
the rules of "safeguarding [public] health" (hifz-i sihba) [in the
country]. (138)

If those who wrote to the Akbtar in the fall of 1889 felt that the government showed a "lack of due attention" to the principles of public health while the country struggled against the outbreak of cholera, we can imagine the depth of their frustrations as this and other epidemics struck even more intensely over the course of the following two years. And they were frustrated for good reason. In the influenza pandemic of 1890, for example, people of all socioeconomic backgrounds had difficulty finding medical experts who could help them with their symptoms and deteriorating health conditions. Many in fact died for this reason alone. As one report described,
The rich and the poor both had difficulty finding physicians for the
care and treatment of their sick because of the scarcity of medical
practitioners [in the country]. For this reason, many of the sick could
not relieve themselves from the clutches of this disease [i.e.,
influenza] and gave up life in a quite bitter manner. (139)

Such shortage of skilled and competent physicians must have exposed once again the authorities' "lack of due attention to the rules of 'safeguarding [public] health' in the country."

While such terrible failures of the central government were threatening to people of different socioeconomic backgrounds, they had on the whole an uneven social distribution. The poor, the laborers, and those in the lower social strata were affected more. By far the largest segments of the population, these groups could not flee outbreaks of epidemics (as wealthier Iranians could), were unable to pay any price to obtain effective medications, and could generally not employ skilled medical practitioners in case of sickness. Instead, they suffered often from malnutrition; lived in cold, cramped, and droughty housing; and worked in professions that brought them into contact with one or another of the fatal diseases. Moreover, they had unhygienic habits such as making use of makeshift toilets and open cesspools, and did not know as well as the more literate classes that personal hygiene was extremely crucial for their overall health and life expectancy.

In searching for the possible causes of their plight, these groups blamed themselves and the government for reasons that were not always directly related to public health. They considered, for example, that an apocalyptic end was imminent because of the many injustices they saw around them and because outbreaks of epidemics and occurrences of disasters were understood to be the signs of the end of time. Such portentous expectations manifested most tangibly in the claims of at least two messianic figures in the country over the course of 1891. (140) Less explicit anticipations of the end were also quite prevalent. Under the pressure of fear, faith, and poverty, some people began to think that they were themselves to blame for the many probable sins they had committed. They now considered, for instance, that they had abandoned their own traditions and customs, and had instead adopted the habits and practices of the Europeans, the most important of which was obtaining and making ample use of the cheap, Western-made consumer goods that had flooded the Persian markets for decades. Others thought that sitting by and letting the Europeans take over their land was in and of itself a grievous sin. Such sentiments often showed themselves in outbursts of anger against foreign nationals or their dependents, whose number was now increasing in Iran. Throughout 1890-92, there were thus many reports of people harassing European nationals and their supporters, or just protesting against their presence and activity in the country. As early as February 1890, for example, people crowded in front of the British legation in Tehran to show their dissatisfaction with the arrival of the British Minister, who was thought to expedite the process of extracting more concessions from the central government. (141) Such outbursts of excitement did not target the Europeans and their dependents alone. People also blamed the central government for failing to resist the onslaught of Western powers, their consumer goods, and their foreign ways of life. Beyond reproaching themselves, the Europeans, and their dependents, popular groups may also have thought that the Qajar administration was responsible for not only the many iniquities rampant in society, but also the deplorable sanitation and socioeconomic conditions in the country. These various sentiments, in any case, coalesced around the issue of the tobacco monopoly in 1891, which, as Afkhami has rightly noted, "provided a [broad] framework where this [rising popular] discontent with living conditions could find [ultimate] release." (142)

For their part, the firebrand clerics who took active part in the Tobacco Protest had long developed the tools necessary to make the sanitary and public health conditions in the country an issue that they could use against the policies of the central government. (143) In the previous decades, the religious elite had already made great effort to expound, perhaps more than ever before, on the question of ritual purity (taharat) in the daily lives of believers. As the nineteenth century wound down, there seems to have been an increasing interest in--perhaps even an obsession with--the question of cleanliness and its relationship to one's wellbeing and worship. (144) Beginning with the 1889 outbreak of cholera, the clerics then started stressing the ritual impurity (nijasat) of foreigners, religious minorities, and even some government officials--the latter categories considered to be the main supporters and beneficiaries of the Western encroachment in Iran. (145)

Such insinuations were by no means universally accepted in society, and they were certainly not limited to 1889-92. In fact, over the course of the second half of the century, similar pronouncements were not infrequently made by the orthodox religious authorities. By the late 1880s, however, the effort that undergirded such declarations had gained momentum. Even before the cholera outbreak, therefore, we see religiously-inspired bans on contact with the Europeans. These attempts to stigmatize foreigners were often very similar to an incident that occurred just prior to the period under consideration:
When Messrs. Lynch's representative first took up his abode there [in
the southwestern city of Shushtar], in 1888, he found difficulty even
in procuring drinking water and the commonest necessaries of life, so
loth were the people to have any dealing with such "an unclean thing";
and every obstacle was still placed by the mullahs and seyids [i.e., a
religiously noble class] in the way of trade. The inhabitants had, in
fact, been ordered not to purchase from the English, and the word for a
general "boycott" had been passed round. (146)

Such interdictions and declarations of impurity made it difficult for average people to work with the targeted groups, consume their products, engage in trade with them, or provide services to them. The boycotts were thus calculated endeavors to "exercise a strict quarantine on contact with the non-Muslim population" and, to some extent, with the senior government officials. (147) In the years after 1889, they could also help to put responsibility for the outbreaks of epidemics and other public health disasters on the shoulders of "the infidels" and "the ungodly Qajar officials" for their specific roles in "defiling" the Muslim community. Unsurprisingly, then, the proclamation of these injunctions intensified in 1889-92, when clerics in city after city began branding the religious minorities, the European nationals and their dependents, as well as key Qajar officials who appeared to support foreign interests, as ritually unclean. These efforts came to a head in the second half of 1891 and the early weeks of 1892, when tobacco was itself declared "unclean" because of the involvement of foreigners and religious minorities in the industry. (148)


Throughout much of 1891-92, people taking part in the Tobacco Protest attributed what they considered the central government's misguided policies to the mental degeneration or sickliness of key decision makers in Tehran. (149) Those who supported the position of the central government were disparaged in a similar way. People also routinely portrayed their opponents as "dirty" and "unclean" in this period. In one secret meeting, for example, an agitator referred to government officials and their dependents as "sludge" (lajan) and as the "filth" (kasafat) of society that people needed to "sweep" and "clean." (150) Images such as these, drawn from people's daily struggle against germs and diseases, reflected a much broader concern over the disturbing sanitary conditions in the country. But one could only speculate whether the nationwide trials against mortality and crises of public health were in fact thought by most of the protesters to be directly comparable with their campaigns against the policies of the central government or the presence of foreigners and their non-Muslim sympathizers in the country. (151)

What is clear, though, is that large segments of Qajar society suffered much because of the challenges examined above, and the fear and frustration they experienced as a result were part of the social and political backdrop to the Tobacco Protest. The level of desperation witnessed in the face of epidemics and other diseases of this period represented a much broader social and environmental context in which other factors such as famine, poverty, climatic stress, over-taxation, and the abuse of government power by the officials were also at play. Together, these forces created an environment in which average people who ended up taking part in the nationwide movement of 1891-92 experienced a level of material stress that was unprecedented even by the standards of nineteenth-century Iran. It is understandable, then, if many of them found an opportunity in the agitations to let out their pent-up grievances with their life circumstances. Some also thought that the government was indifferent to the dire consequences of repeated outbreaks of dangerous epidemics. They saw that the authorities were once again incapable of addressing the most pressing issues of the day, that is, the problems that threatened the very survival of average people. Others thought that the nationwide agitations marked an apocalyptic time of reckoning during which they should direct their fears and anxieties towards a more worthwhile cause, such as the struggle against a threatening foreign power or the abuse of government officials. For their part, the religious groups who had long considered foreigners, religious minorities, and some Qajar officials as "impure" and "untouchable" used the state of sanitation and public health in the country to insinuate that "the unbelievers" were the most important factor in the defilement and the travails of the national community. As each of these groups recognized, and as I hope the foregoing survey has shown, the worlds of pestilence and of politics were deeply entangled, and the health of the body politic depended in no small part on the health of the people's bodies.

Much has been written about the politicization of Islam and the rise of national movements and revolutions in the Middle East in the nineteenth century. Scholars have debated at length the secular, religious, and political forces that contributed to the making of these upheavals and the context that brought the region to a period of war, colonial misadventures, nationalism, revivalist movements, and widespread demands for popular sovereignty. A key aspect of this story is the material context that made such movements and revolutions possible. The foregoing discussion has aimed to make a contribution in this area.

Ranin Kazemi is an Associate Professor of History at San Diego State University. He is the author of several lengthy, monographic articles in Iranian Studies, Modern Asian Studies, the Journal of Persianate Studies, Middle Eastern Studies, and Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. He is currently working on a book manuscript entitled The Ecology of Conflict: Privation, Protest, and Populism in Iran, 1850-1892. The latter project traces the environmental, social, and political origins of one of the earliest revolutionary movements in the modern Middle East. He is grateful to three anonymous readers and Adrian O'Connor, who provided invaluable feedback on the earlier drafts of this article.

(1.) Nikki R. Keddie, Religion and Rebellion in Iran: The Tobacco Protest of 1891-92 (London: Frank Cass and Co. Ltd., 1966); Faridun Adamiyyat, Shurish bar imtiyaznama-yi Rizbi: Tahlil-i siyasi (Tehran: Payam, 1981); Huma Natiq, Bazarganan dar dad va sitad-i ba Bank-i Shahi va Rizhi-yi Tanbaku (Paris: Khavaran, 1992).

(2.) Hasan Isfahani Karbala'i, Tarikh-i dukhaniyya, edited by Rasul Ja'fariyan (Tehran: Markaz-i Asnad-i Inqilab-i Islami, 2003); Muhammad ' Ali Hiydaji, Risala-yi dukhaniyya, edited by Ali-Akbar Vilayati, 2nd edition (Tehran: Vizarat-i Umur-i Kharija, 2006); Musa Najafi and Rasul Ja'fariyan, eds., Sada-yi Tahrim-i Tanbaku (Tehran: Amir Kabir, 1994); Ibrahim Taymuri, Qarardad-i 1890-i Rizhi: Tahrim-i Tanbaku (avvalin muqvimat-i manfi dar Iran) (Tehran: Sipihr, 1982); Muhammad-Riza Rahmati, Naqsh-i mujtahid-i Tars dar Nahzat-i Tanbaku: zindigi-yi siyasi-ijtimai-yi Sayyid 'Ali Akbar Fal Asiri (Qum: Bunyad-i Tarikh-i Inqilab-i Islami-yi Iran, 1992).

(3.) Ann K. S. Lambton, "The Tobacco Regie: Prelude to Revolution I," Studia hlamica 22 (1965): 119-157; Ann K. S. Lambton, "The Tobacco Regie: Prelude to Revolution II," Studia hlamica 23 (1965): 71-90; T. P. Brockway, "Britain and the Persian Bubble, 1888-1892," Journal of Modern History 8:1 (1941): 36-47; Firuz Kazemzadeh, Russia and Britain in Persia: Imperial Ambitions in Qajar Iran (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1968), 241-302.

(4.) Michael Durey, The Return of the Plague: British Society and the Cholera, 1831-32 (Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 1979), 1; Roderick E. McGrew, Russia and the Cholera, 1823-1832 (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1965), 3; Robert John Morris, Cholera, 1832: The Social Response to an Epidemic (London: Croom Helm, 1976), 17.

(5.) Richard J. Evans, "Epidemics and Revolutions: Cholera in Nineteenth-Century Europe," fast and Present 120 (August 1988), 139.

(6.) Durey, Return of the Plague, 185-186; Evans, "Epidemics and Revolutions," 144; David S. Barnes, The Making of a Social Disease: Tuberculosis in nineteenth-Century Prance (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995); Greta Jones, "Captain of Ml These Men of Death": The History of Tuberculosis in Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Ireland (New York: Rodopi, 2001).

(7.) Elizabeth J. Perry, Rebels and Revolutionaries in North China, 1845-1945 (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1980); Charlotte E. Henze, Disease, Health Care and Government in Late Imperial Russia: Life and Death on the Volga, 1823-1914 (London: Routledge, 2011); David Arnold, Colonizing the Body: State Medicine and Epidemic Disease in Nineteenth-Century India (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993). There have been, however, some dissenting voices such as Pule Phoofolo, "Epidemics and Revolutions: The Rinderpest Epidemic in Late Nineteenth-Century Southern Africa," Past and Present 138 (February 1993): 112-143. In the context of the Middle East, and for an earlier period in history, see the recent work of Sam White, The Climate of Rebellion in the Early Modern Ottoman Empire (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 85-91, 152-162, 210, 268-275, 298-299, which demonstrates the role of ordinary endemic infections and epidemic diseases (along with climate and other factors) in the making of a series of rebellions in Anatolia in the late sixteenth and early to mid-seventeenth centuries.

(8.) Historians have argued that the main causes of popular movements and revolutions were such key forces as imperialism, nationalism, slow pace of political reforms, religious ideology, aspirations for popular sovereignty, and, only to a limited extent, socioeconomic grievances. See, for example, Juan Cole, Colonialism and Revolution in the Middle East: Social and Cultural Origins of Egypt's 'Urabi Movement (Cairo: The American University in Cairo Press, 1999); Kemal H. Karpat, The Politicization of Islam: Reconstructing Identity, State, Faith, and Community in the Late Ottoman State (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001); M. Sukru Hanioglu, The Young Turks in Opposition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995); Vanessa Martin, Iran between Islamic Nationalism and Secularism: The Constitutional Revolution of 1906 (London: LB. Tauris, 2013); Janet Afary, The Iranian Constitutional Revolution, 1906-1911: Grassroots Democracy, Social Democracy & the Origins of Feminism (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996); Mangol Bayat, Iran's First Revolution: Shiism and the Constitutional Revolution of 1905-1909 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999).

(9.) Firoozeh Kashani-Sabet, "Hallmarks of Humanism: Hygiene and Love of Homeland in Qajar Iran," American Historical Review 105:4 (October 2000): 1,171-1,203; Mohamad Tavakoli-Targhi, "From Patriotism to Matriotism: A Tropological Study of Iranian Nationalism, 1870-1909," International Journal of Middle East Studies 34:2 (May 2002): 217-238; Amir Arsalan Afkhami, "Iran in the Age of Epidemics: Nationalism and the Struggle for Public-Health, 1889-1926" (PhD diss.: Yale University, 2003), 252-406; Mohamad Tavakoli-Targhi, "Tajaddud-i ruzmarra va ampul-i tadayyun,'" Iran Namah 24:4 (Winter 2009): 421-458; Firoozeh Kashani-Sabet, Conceiving Citizens: Women and the Politics of Motherhood in Iran (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), 15-48, 73-119. In the context of the broader Middle East see Zeinab Abul-Magd, Imagined Empires: A History of Revolt in Egypt (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2013), which demonstrates how imperial projects (by the Ottomans, the French, Mehmed Ali Pasha, and the British) in Upper Egypt led to recurrent outbreaks of epidemics (and other forms of environmental disturbance and disasters), and how these in turn resulted in subaltern resistance and revolt in the area over the course of several centuries. In the context of Central Asia see Jeff Sahadeo, "Epidemic and Empire: Ethnicity, Class, and 'Civilization' in the 1892 Tashkent Cholera Riot," Slavic Review 64:1 (Spring 2005): 117-139, which illustrates once again how an epidemic disease and the measures introduced by a modernizing government to control its impact can turn muted tensions and antagonisms in society to open popular unrest and violence.

(10.) Afkhami, "Iran in the Age of Epidemics," 16-80; Firoozeh Kashani-Sabet, "'City of the Dead:' The Frontier Polemics of Quarantines in the Ottoman Empire and Iran," Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 18:2 (1998): 51-58; Amir Arsalan Afkhami, "Defending the Guarded Domains: Epidemics and the Emergence of an International Sanitary Policy in Iran," Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 19:1 (1999): 122-136.

(11.) "Public Health: Eight Report of the Medical Officer of the Privy Council, with Appendix," House of Commons Parliamentary Papers (henceforth HCPP), 1866/3645; William G. Eggleston, "Oriental Pilgrimages and Cholera," The North American Review 155, no. 428 (July 1892): 126-128; and Afkhami, "Iran in the Age of Epidemics," 42-43, 46-47, 69, 72, 76, 82-85.

(12.) For an overview of the state of public health in Iran in the nineteenth century, see Cyril Elgood, A Medical History of Persia and the Eastern Caliphate from the Earliest Times until the Year A.D. 1932 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1951), 437-537; Willem Floor, Public Health in Qajar Iran (Washington, DC: Mage Publishers, 2004); Hormoz Ebrahimnejad, Medicine, Public Health and the Qajar State: Patterns of Medical Modernization in Nineteenth-Century Iran (Leiden: Brill, 2004); Ahmad Seyf, "Iran and Cholera in the Nineteenth Century," Middle Eastern Studies 38:1 (January 2002): 169-178; Huma Natiq, Musibat-i vaba va bala-yi hukumat (Tehran: Gustara, 1979), 11-45.

(13.) Amir A. Afkhami, "Disease and Water Supply: The Case of Cholera in 19th Century Iran," in Jeff Albert, Magnus Bernhardsson, and Roger Kenna, eds., Transformations of Middle Eastern Natural Environments: Legacies and Lessons (New Haven, CT: Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, 1998), Bulletin Number 103, 207.

(14.) Afkhami, "Disease and Water Supply," 207-208; Afkhami, "Defending the Guarded Domain," 125-126, 130-131.

(15.) Afkhami, "Iran in the Age of Epidemics," 40, 42-50.

(16.) National Archives of Iran, "Dastur al-'Amal-i Idara-yi Hifz al-Sihha," 15 Muharram 1,307 AH [11 September 1889], File No. 9-855/43910 and 1,973,019. See also Dawson Williams, "Remarks on the Route of Asiatic Cholera in 1892," The British Medical journal 2:1655 (17 September 1892), 621.

(17.) Iran (Tehran), no. 727, 14 September 1890, 2,927; Iran (Tehran), no. 754, 4 September 1891, 3,033; and Iran (Tehran), no. 756, 3 October 1891, 3,043.

(18.) Dr. John Gillespie to Rev. Wear, Hamadan, Persia, 26 November 1889, cited in Afkhami, "Iran in the Age of Epidemics," 104-105. For similar expressions of doubt in the 1870s, see Kashani-Sabet, '"City of the Dead'," 53-54.

(19.) For an overview of public health in India in the nineteenth century see Arnold, Colonizing the Body, which shows among other things how the Indian government was reluctant to make the financial investment necessary to contain epidemics of smallpox, cholera, and plague.

(20.) Isabella Lucy Bird, journeys in Persia and Kurdistan, vol. 1 (London: J. Murray, 1891), 63, 70, 162-163.

(21.) "The Cholera," The British Medical Journal 1:1531 (3 May 1890): 1,034.

(22.) Joannes [Jean Baptiste] Feurrier, Sih sal dar darbar-i Iran, translated by Abbas Iqbal (Tehran: 'Ilm, 2005), 140.

(23.) Keith E. Abbott, Cities and Trade: Consul Abbott on the Economy and Society of Iran, edited by Abbas Amanat (London: Ithaca Press, 1983); Muhammad-'Ali Jamalzada, Ganj-i shayagan: awza'-i iqtisadi-yi Iran (Tehran: Sukhan, 2005); Hooshang Amirahmadi, The Political Economy of Iran under the Qajars: Society, Politics, Economics and Foreign Relations, 1976 to 1926 (London: LB. Tauris, 2012); Charles Issawi, ed., The Economic History of Iran, 1800-1914 (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1971); Ahmad Seyf, Iqtisad-i Iran dar qarn-i nuzdahum (Tehran: Chashma, 1994); Willem Floor, A Fiscal History of Iran in the Safavid and Qajar Periods, 1500-1925 (New York: Bibliotheca Persica Press, 1998), 373-394; Majid Yikta'i, Tarikh-i gumruk-i Iran (Tehran: Danish, 1976).

(24.) UK National Archives, London, Foreign Office Papers [hereafter FO] 248/525, "Report on the Trade of Khorassan for the Year 1890-91," 7 November 1891.

(25.) See, for example, a waste disposal area inside the city of Nishapur which was then cleaned and renovated in late 1890; Iran (Tehran), no. 731, 30 November 1890, 2,943.

(26.) George N. Curzon, Persia and the Persian Question, vol. 1 (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1892), 335-336.

(27.) Afkhami, "Disease and Water Supply," 214.

(28.) Muhammad Shafi' Qazvini, Qanun-i Qazvini: lntiqad-i awza'-i ijtima'i-yi Iran-i dawra-yi Nasiri, edited by Iraj Afshar (Tehran: Talaya, 1991), 104.

(29.) Afkhami, "Disease and Water Supply," 217; Tavakoli-Targhi, "Tajaddud-i ruzmarra," 426-427, 435-436.

(30.) Feurrier, Sih sal, 141-142; and Iran (Tehran), no. 720, 26 June 1890, 2,900.

(31.) Afkhami, "Disease and Water Supply," 214-215.

(32.) "The Cholera," 1,034.

(33.) Afkhami, "Iran in the Age of Epidemics," 55, 74.

(34.) Afkhami, "Defending the Guarded Domain," 122-124; James Felix Jones, Memoirs of Baghdad, Kurdistan, and Turkish Arabia, 1857: Selections from the Records of the Bombay Government (Oxford, Britain: Archive Editions, 1998), 362; Tavakoli-Targhi, "Tajaddud-i ruzmarra," 431, 450 (n. 5), 454 (n. 28); and Kashani-Sabet, "Hallmarks of Humanism," 1,177, 1,179-80.

(35.) Kashani-Sabet, "Hallmarks of Humanism," 1, 179-81.

(36.) Edward G. Browne, A Year Amongst the Persians (London: Elibron Classics, 2005), 98; Afkhami, "Defending the Guarded Domain," 132. For an overview of traditional medicine in Qajar Iran, see Afkhami, "Iran in the Age of Epidemics," 4-15.

(37.) Afkhami, "Iran in the Age of Epidemics," 51; Afkhami, "Defending the Guarded Domain," 132; Tavakoli-Targhi, "From Patriotism to Matriotism," 224.

(38.) See the case of Savujbulagh in Iran (Tehran), no. 721, 6 July 1890, 2,903; that of the city of 'Iraq in Iran (Tehran), no. 750, 12 July 1891, 3,020; of Astarabad in Iran (Tehran), no. 754, 4 September 1891, 3,036; of Tehran in Iran (Tehran), no. 757, 24 October 1891, 3,046-3,047; and "Maktub az Tehran," Akhtar (Istanbul), no. 16, 15 December 1889, 132. This new wave of public works projects had their origins in the 1870s when "a new town hall, parks, fountains, new roads to replace the narrow and unsanitary winding alleys, and the installation of gaslight" were undertaken in the capital city. During this time, we also witness that "burials, previously under religious jurisdiction, were secularized and brought under civil authority so as to promote regulation, thereby alleviating a persistent cause of concern for health authorities." Afkhami, "Defending the Guarded Domain," 129. See also Kashani-Sabet, '"City of the Dead'," 51.

(39.) See the policies implemented or soon to be undertaken in Kirmanshahan, Iran (Tehran), no. 707, 25 January 1890, 2,847; in Sabzivar, Iran (Tehran), no. 708, 4 February 1890, 2,851; in Zanjan, Iran (Tehran), no. 717, no. 19 May 1890, 2,888; and in Rasht, Iran (Tehran), no. 719, 14 June 1890, 2,896.

(40.) Afkhami, "Disease and Water Supply," 215.

(41.) Iran (Tehran), no. 715, 21 April 1890, 2,879; Iran (Tehran), no. 757, 24 October 1891, 3,046-3,047; Iran (Tehran), no. 760, 6 December 1891, 3,059; Muhammad Hasan I'timad al-Saltana, Ruznama-yi kbatirat-i I'timad al-Saltana, edited by Iraj Afshar (Tehran: Amir Kabir, 2006), 692.

(42.) See the case in Sabzivar in Iran (Tehran), no. 723, 26 July 1890, 2,910; and in Bushihr in Iran (Tehran), no. 726, 31 August 1890, 2,924.

(43.) Ali-Akbar Sa'idi Sirjani, ed., Vaqayi'-i ittifaqiyya (Tehran: Asim, 2004), 356.

(44.) Iran (Tehran), no. 721, 6 July 1890, 2,903.

(45.) Iran (Tehran), no. 723, 26 July 1890, 2,911.

(46.) Iran (Tehran), no. 756, 3 October 1891, 3,044.

(47.) Going on a journey to Ottoman Iraq was a considerable undertaking for any family. The average cost of such a trip for one body to be carried from Tehran to Karbala and then properly buried in Iraq was between 300 and 600 tumans; Navvab Motahhar Ali Khan to Mr. Kennedy, 14 February 1891, FO 248/530; and Mr. Navarra, 26 February 1891, FO 248/530. There were some merchants who were in the business of transferring corpses across the border and giving them proper burial in Ottoman Iraq. The agents of these merchants often traveled across the Qajar state (and beyond to the other parts of the Shiite Muslim world) in order to identify potential clients; Sabri Ates, "Bones of Contention: Corpse Traffic and Ottoman-Iranian Rivalry in Nineteenth-Century Iraq," Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 33:3 (2010): 513, 520-522, 526-529. See also Seyf, "Iran and Cholera," 170.

(48.) "How Persians Die and Are Buried," Littell's Living Age 165:2136 (30 May 1885): 573-575.

(49.) See Curzon, Persia, vol. 1, 259; and Ates, "Bones of Contention," 512-532.

(50.) Gertrude Bell, Safar Nameh: Persian Pictures: A Book of Travel (London: Richard Bentley and Son, 1894), 82.

(51.) Edmond O'Donovan, "Life Among the Turcoman Nomads," Journal of the Society of Arts 31:1, 577 (9 February 1883): 247.

(52.) Feurrier, Sih sal, 237. Although the burial practices described here were quite popular in Qajar Iran, it is important to note that they were not limited to Iranians alone. Devout Shiites in Central and South Asia carried the remains of their loved ones to Ottoman Iraq through the lands of the Qajar state, adding to the impression that all the bodies belonged to Iranians. Ates, "Bones of Contention," 512.

(53.) Afkhami, "Iran in the Age of Epidemics," 16-22, 47-48, 62.

(54.) Kirmanshah Agent, 31 December 1890, FO 248/513.

(55.) Sa'idi Sirjani, Vaqayi', 356.

(56.) Feurrier, Sih sal, 236.

(57.) Feurrier, Sib sal, 237.

(58.) Iran (Tehran), no. 717, 19 May 1890, 2,888.

(59.) From Kirmanshah Agent, 23 March 1891 and 22 April 1891, FO 248/533.

(60.) For specific examples see 'Ali Muhammad Dawlatabadi, Kbatirat va mulabizat-i Sayyid 'Alt Muhammad Dawlatabadi, edited by Iraj Afshar (Tehran: Sukhan, 2009), 3-5; John Gurney and Mansur Sifatgul, eds., Qum dar qahti-yi buzurg-i 1,308 Qamari (Qum: Marashi Najafi, 2008), 10-106 (esp. 111-138); N. Q. Astarabadi, "Girani," Vahid 17 (Urdibihisht 1965): 60; G. H. Adib, Afzal al-tavarikh quoted in J. Qa'im-Maqami, "Girani-yi sal-i 1,316 Qamari dar Tihran," Yaghma 17:2 (1964): 84; Qazvini, Qanun-i Qazvini, 59; Nargis Pidram and Iraj Afshar, eds., Kirman dar asnad-i Amin al-Zarb (Tehran: Surayya, 2005), 310; and a report on Hamadan in Ruznama-yi dawlat-i 'aliyya-yi Iran (Tehran), no. 511, 16 January 1862, 6.

(61.) For an earlier case see Mr. Alison to Foreign Office, February 1861, FO 60/256; Heinrich Karl Brugsch, Safari bih darbar-i Sultan-i Sahib Qiran, 1859-1861, trans, by Muhandis Kurdbachcha, vol. 2 (Tehran: Tehran: Ittila'at, 1988), 592; Muhammad Hasan Khan I'timad al-Saltana, Mirat al-buldan, edited by 'Abd al-Karim Nava'i and Mir Hashim Muhaddis, vol. 2-3, (Tehran: Danishgah-i Tihran, 1988-89), 1,385-406.

(62.) Iran (Tehran), no. 708, 4 February 1890, 2,851.

(63.) Sa'idi Sirjani, Vaqayi', 357; and Bird, Journeys, vol. 2, 285.

(64.) hird, Journeys, vol. 2, 319.

(65.) Iran (Tehran), no. 760, 6 December 1891, 3,059-3,060; and Iran (Tehran), no. 762, 31 December 1891, 3,067.

(66.) The diseases that traditionally affected the country most were "ague, dysentery, and smallpox" (especially in Kirmanshah) and "typhus or typhoid" (particularly in Isfahan, Kirman, and Shahrud). Browne, A Year Amongst the Persians, 98. For an overview of other major illnesses see Floor, Public Health, 13-58.

(67.) "Recent Cholera in Mesopotamia and Persia," The British Medical journal 1:1518 (1 February 1890), 254.

(68.) Qahraman Mirza Ayn al-Saltana, Kuznama-yi khatirat-i 'Ayn al-Saltana, edited by Mas'ud Salur and Iraj Afshar, vol. 1 (Tehran: Asatir, 1995), 234; "Az dayira-yi umur-i sahiyya," Akhtar (Istanbul), no. 50, 12 August 1890, 400; "Bi mawjib-i khabarha," Akhtar (Istanbul), no. 1, 19 August 1890, 3; "Bih mawjib-i khabarha," Akhtar (Istanbul), no. 3, 2 September 1890, 21; "Nakhushi-yi vaba," Akhtar (Istanbul), no. 15, 24 November 1890, 115; "Sirayat-i nakhushi-yi vaba," Akhtar (Istanbul), no. 16, 2 December 1890, 124; "Raf'-i nakhushi-yi vaba," and "Nakhushi-yi vaba," Akhtar (Istanbul), no. 2, 22 September 1891, 12, 15; "Zuhur-i nakhushi-yi vaba dar Sham," Akhtar (Istanbul), no. 6, 20 October 1891, 43; "Sahiyya," Akhtar (Istanbul), no. 7, 27 October 1891, 52; "Sahiyya," Akhtar (Istanbul), no. 8, 3 November 1891, 59; "Vazifashinasi," Akhtar (Istanbul), no. 11, 24 November 1891, 83; "Nakhushi-yi vaba," Akhtar (Istanbul), no. 12, 1 December 1891, 91; "Sahiyya," Akhtar (Istanbul), no. 13, 8 December 1891, 99; "Mamlikatdari," Akhtar (Istanbul), no. 17, 5 January 1892, 131.

(69.) "Maktub az Tehran," Akhtar (Istanbul), no. 16, 15 December 1889, 132; "Ruznamaha-yi Viyan," Akhtar (Istanbul), no. 21, 20 January 1890, 172; Bird, Journeys, vol. 1, 69; Kirmanshah Agent, 14 January 1890, FO 248/512; "Recent Cholera in Mesopotamia and Persia," 254.

(70.) Kirmanshah Agent, 29 January 1890, FO 248/512.

(71.) "Recent Cholera in Mesopotamia and Persia," 254.

(72.) Iran (Tehran), no. 707, 25 January 1890, 2,847.

(73.) "The Cholera," 1,033-1,034; see also contradictory reports about the presence of cholera in different parts of the country in "Iran," Akhtar (Istanbul), no. 27, 3 March 1890, 220; "Anfluanzha dar Iran," Akhtar (Istanbul), no. 30, 24 March 1890, 244; "Iran," Akhtar (Istanbul), no. 41, 9 June 1890, 328.

(74.) On the cholera epidemic of 1892-93, see Afkhami, "Iran in the Age of Epidemics," 125-195.

(75.) Kirmanshah Agent, 30 May 1890, FO 248/512; and Kirmanshah Agent, 27 May 1890, FO 248/512. The plague was reportedly under control by 10 June 1890, and the quarantine was removed by the government by 1 July; Kirmanshah Agent, 10 June 1890, FO 248/512; Kirmanshah Agent, 14 June 1890, FO 248/512; and Kirmanshah Agent, 1 July 1890, FO 248/512. As the examples cited here tend to suggest, establishing quarantines whenever there were outbreaks of contagious diseases seems to have become a routine practice by the early 1890s.

(76.) Iran (Tehran), no. 708, 4 February 1890, 2,851.

(77.) Astarabad Agent, 8 December 1890, FO 248/513.

(78.) Iran (Tehran), no. 708, 4 February 1890, 2,851; Iran (Tehran), no. 710, 25 February 1890, 2,859; and "Khabarha-yi tilgirafi," Akhtar (Istanbul), no. 26, 24 February 1890, 210.

(79.) Iran (Tehran), no. 736, 15 January 1891, 2,964.

(80.) Iran (Tehran), no. 742, 13 April 1891, 2,988.

(81.) "Persia: Meshed," HCPP, 1892/C. 6,550-38, 15; "Report on the Trade of Khorassan for the Year 1890-91," 7 November 1891, FO 248/525.

(82.) Iran (Tehran), no. 750, 12 July 1891, 3,019. Other and somewhat earlier examples of unknown diseases included a malady identified as "a fatal haemorrhagic disease which had ... decimated the Yomut Turkmans" of the northern part of the country in 1887-88 or "an obscure and rapidly fatal disease which defied the skill of the physicians" in the central part of the country around the same time; Browne, A Year Amongst the Persians, 98. Another unknown and contagious disease (in the form of severe diarrhea) was reported in Rasht in December 1890, which resulted in the death of a British official, a certain Mr. Guinness; From Resht Consulate Monshi to Mr. Kennedy, 5 January 1891, FO 248/533. In summer, Gilan was known for its dangerous and unknown "fevers" which were sometimes fatal. One such case was reported in July 1891; Feurrier, Sih sal, 175.

(83.) Iran (Tehran), no. 731, 3 November 1890, 2,944.

(84.) Malaria was reported in different parts of the country including Gilan, Tehran, Mazandaran, Astarabad, and Qishm; Curzon, Persia, vol. 1, 34, 335, 354, 361; and Curzon, Persia, vol. 2, 412, 594. See also Floor, Public Health, 14-17.

(85.) 'Ayn al-Saltana, Ruznama, vol. 1, 312-314.

(86.) I'timad al-Saltana, Ruznama, 700, 774.

(87.) Iran (Tehran), no. 759, 23 November 1891, 3,056; Iran (Tehran), no. 760, 6 December 1891, 3,060; and I'timad al-Saltana, Ruznama, 729.

(88.) E.g. Iran (Tehran), no. 708, 4 February 1890, 2,851; Iran (Tehran), no. 727, 14 September 1890, 2,926; Iran (Tehran), no. 730, 21 October 1890, 2,939; Iran (Tehran), no. 2,941, 3 November 1890, 2,944; Iran (Tehran), no. 732, 20 November 1890, 2,947; Iran (Tehran), no. 749, 30 June 1891, 3,015; Iran (Tehran), no. 750, 12 July 1891, 3,020; Iran (Tehran), no. 752, 5 August 1891, 3,026; Iran (Tehran), no. 754, 4 September 1891, 3,035; Iran (Tehran), no. 756, 3 October 1891, 3,043; Iran (Tehran), no. 758, 7 November 1891, 3,051; Iran (Tehran), no. 6 December 1891, 3,060; and Sa'idi Sirjani, Vaqayi', 368.

(89.) "Persia: Meshed," HCPP, 1892/C. 6,550-38, 15.

(90.) See, for example, I'timad al-Saltana, Ruznama, 773, where the author notes that his servant died because of this illness in Tehran. See also the outbreak of this disease in Nishapur, I'timad al-Saltana, Ruznama, 779; in Sarakhs, Iran (Tehran), no. 707, 25 January 1890, 2,847; in Qishm, Iran (Tehran), no. 711, 7 March 1890, 2,864; in Sarab, Iran (Tehran), no. 731, 3 November 1890, 2,943; in Sabzivar, Iran (Tehran), no. 736, 15 January 1891, 2,964; in Sabzivar again, Iran (Tehran), no. 742, 13 April 1891, 2,988; in Malayir, Tuysirkan, and Nahavand, Iran (Tehran), no. 743, 25 April 1891, 2,992; in 'Iraq, Iran (Tehran), no. 745, 13 May 1891, 3,000; in Hamadan, Hamadan Agent, 29 August 1891, FO 248/534; in Kirman and Baluchistan, Iran (Tehran), no. 759, 23 November 1891, 3,056; in Ardabil, Iran (Tehran), no. 760, 6 December 1891, 3,060; in Ardabil again, Iran (Tehran), no. 762, 31 December 1891, 3,067; and in Malayir and Tuysirkan, Iran (Tehran), no. 765, 9 February 1892, 3,080. See also "Maktub az Khurasan," Akbtar (Istanbul), no. 31, 31 March 1890, 251.

(91.) Sa'idi Sirjani, Vaqayi', 355.

(92.) "Khabarha-yi tilgirafi," Akhtar (Istanbul), 210; see also Sa'idi Sirjani, Vaqayi', 352, 353.

(93.) "Nakhushi-yi anfluyanja," Akhtar (Istanbul), no. 24, 19 Jumadi II 1307/10 February 1890, 198-199.

(94.) Joseph Desiree Tholozan, "La grippe en Perse en 1889-1890," Bulletin de l'Academie de Medecine 26 (1891), 251, 261. See also Afkhami, "Iran in the Age of Epidemics," 106-107; "Khabarha-yi tilgirafi," and "Nakhushi-yi gharib," Akhtar (Istanbul), no. 26, 24 February 1890, 210, 212-213.

(95.) "Maktub az Tehran," Akhtar (Istanbul), no. 27, 3 March 1890, 221-222.

(96.) Feurrier, Sih sal, 237. A less severe version of influenza surfaced in Tehran and Tabriz in January 1890, which affected both people and horses. Although milder than the influenza in 1891, the disease nonetheless killed quite a few people. "Influenza in Persia," The British Medical Journal 1:1520 (15 February 1890), 373.

(97.) I'timad al-Saltana, Ruznama, 788, 790.

(98.) "Nakhushi-yi anfluanzha," Akhtar (Istanbul), no. 18, 12 January 1892, 140-141; and "Zuhur-i nakhushi-yi 'anfluinzha,' dar Tihran," Akhtar (Istanbul), no. 20, 26 January 1892, 157-158.

(99.) "Persia: Meshed," HCPP, 1892/C. 6,550-38, 15.

(100.) Part of the responsibility of the office of the Chief Physician (Hakim Bashi) in a given province was to make sure that different parts of the region had access to "proficient doctors" and "well-stocked drugstores." See, for example, a report from Khurasan in Iran (Tehran), no. 707, 25 January 1890, 2,847. The authorities had also begun establishing modern hospitals in different parts of the country; see, for example, the establishment of a hospital in Kirmanshahan in early 1892; Iran (Tehran), 21 February 1892, 3,084.

(101.) H. B. Vaughan, "Journeys in Persia (1890-91)," The Geographical Journal 7:2 (February 1896), 172.

(102.) Ranin Kazemi, '"Neither Indians, Nor Egyptians': Social Protest and Islamic Populism in the Making of the Tobacco Movement in Iran, 1850-1891" (PhD diss., Yale University, 2012), 456; Heidi Walcher, In the Shadow of the King: Zill al-Sultan and Isfahan under the Qajars (London: LB. Tauris, 2008), 151-152.

(103.) "Jinab-i Sir Drimund Vulf," Akhtar (Istanbul), no. 9, 14 October 1890, 68; "Sir Drimund Vulf," Akhtar (Istanbul), no. 11, 27 October 1890, 85; Sir Henry Drummond Wolff, Rambling Refllections, vol. 2 (London: Macmillan, 1908), 372, 375, 379; Nasir al-Din Shah, Ruznama-yi khatirat-i Nasir al-Din Shah Qajar (az Rabi' al-Avval 1,308 Ha Rabi' al-Sani 1,309 Q.), edited by Majid Abd-Amin and Nasrin Khalili (Tehran: Pazhuhishgah-i Miras-i Farhangi va Gardishgari-yi Iran, 2015), 7, 25; Keddie, Religion and Rebellion, 14, 46.

(104.) I'timad al-Saltana, Ruznama.

(105.) See various pages of Shah, Ruznama.

(106.) Iran (Tehran), no. 708, 4 February 1890, 2,850-2,851; and "Maktub az Tehran," Akhtar (Istanbul), no. 27, 3 March 1890, 221-222.

(107.) "Maktub az Tehran," Akbtar (Istanbul), no. 27, 3 March 1890, 221-222.

(108.) "Maktub az Tehran," Akbtar (Istanbul), no. 29, 17 March 1890, 237-238.

(109.) Fenrrier, Sib sal, 133.

(110.) Iran (Tehran), no. 737, 29 January 1891, 2,966-2,967; Shah, Ruznama, 104, 108-111; 'Ayn al-Saltana, Ruznama, vol. 1, 333.

(111.) I'timad al-Saltana, Ruznama, 734, 737; Iran (Tehran), no. 740, 25 February 1891, 2,980; Feurrier, Sib sal, 236; Shah, Ruznama, 126, 131, 149.

(112.) Feurrier, Sib sal, 208; "Ta'assuf," Akbtar (Istanbul), no. 2, 22 September 1891, 13; Shah, Ruznama, 286.

(113.) I'timad al-Saltana, Ruznama, 768; Iran (Tehran), no. 755, 19 September 1891, 3,040.

(114.) I'timad al-Saltana, Ruznama, 788-790; Iran (Tehran), no. 764, 27 January 1892, 3,076.

(115.) I'timad al-Saltana, Ruznama, 810.

(116.) See also the diary of Ayn al-Saltana, Ruznama, vol. 1, 258, 260, among others.

(117.) I'timad al-Saltana, Ruznama, 736.

(118.) I'timad al-Saltana, Ruznama, 790.

(119.) For an overview of I'timad al-Saltana's perspective on life and work, and his ongoing anxieties while he was composing his diary, see Ali Gheissari, "Authorial Voices and the Sense of an Ending in Persian Diaries: Notes on E'temad al-Saltana and Alam," Iranian Studies 49:4 (2016): 693-723.

(120.) Iran (Tehran), no. 708, 4 February 1890, 2,851.

(121.) Dispatching doctors to barracks and military camps in different parts of the country in order to address the medical problems of soldiers and government officials was a common practice of the central government during this time. See, for example, a report from Khurasan in January 1890 which describes how "government doctors" (atibba-yi nizam) inspected the health of soldiers in the army on a daily basis to make sure that they were in good health; Iran (Tehran), no. 707, 25 January 1890, 2,847. Despite such efforts, it was not uncommon to see soldiers fall ill while still in service. See, for example, Astarabad Agent, 18 August 1890, FO 248/513.

(122.) People who were confined by the authorities were likewise revealed to have fallen sick. Sayyid Jamal al-Din Asadabadi and Hajj Muhammad Ah' Sayyah, two prominent dissidents who were arrested during this time, described falling quite ill--perhaps with influenza and cholera respectively--while in custody. Jamal al-Din Asadabadi to Muhammad Hasan Shirazi in Nazim al-Islam Kirmani, Tarikh-i Bidari-yi Iranian, edited by Ali-Akbar Sa'idi Sirjani, vol. 1 (Tehran: Bunyad-i Farhang-i Iran, 1978), 92; Edward G. Browne, The Persian Revolution, 1905-1909 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1910), 20; Muhammad 'Ali Sayyah Mahallati, Khatirat-i Hajj Sayyah: Ya dawara-yi khawfva vahshat, edited by Hamid Sayyah and Sayf Allah Gulkar (Tehran: Amir Kabir, 1977), 361.

(123.) For an overview of the progress made in this area by the Qajar administration see Afkhami, "Iran in the Age of Epidemics," chapters 1 and 2.

(124.) On the ambiguities of medical knowledge and lack of consensus among medical practitioners in the nineteenth century see, for example, a report that explains the state of the medical treatment for cholera in the world in "Yak tajruba-yi tibbi," Akbtar (Istanbul), no. 50, 12 August 1890, 402-403; Barnes, Making of a Social Disease, which provides analysis of the politics of medical knowledge in France in the nineteenth century.

(125.) Afkhami, "Iran in the Age of Epidemics," 81-151. By the Constitutional Revolution of 1905-11, reform-minded intellectuals, as well as popular newspapers and journals, started medicalizing the many political, social, and economic problems they saw in Iran; they also made use of anthropomorphic imagery when referring to their country and thought of it as a patient that long periods of neglect and a series of threatening maladies worked in tandem to paralyze or bring her to a state of coma. Under such circumstances, one key solution was for people to follow the "prescriptions" of "competent physicians," that is the recently elected deputies representing the country in the newly established national parliament, which was itself seen as the country's most important "political hospital." Tavakoli-Targhi, "From Patriotism to Matriotism," 224-228; Tavakoli-Targhi, "Tajaddud-i ruzmarra," 440-449; Kashani-Sabet, "Hallmarks of Humanism," 1,185-1,194.

(126.) For historical background on the Akbtar see Anja Pistor-Hatam, "Progress and Civilization in Nineteenth-Century Japan: The Far Eastern State as a Model for Modernization," Iranian Studies 29:1-2 (Winter-Spring 1996): 111-126; Tanya Elal Lawrence, Akbtar: A Persian Language Newspaper Published in Istanbul and the Iranian Community of the Ottoman Empire in the Late Nineteenth Century (Istanbul: Libra Press, 2015); Tanya Elal Lawrence, "The Iranian Community of the Late Ottoman Empire and the Egyptian 'Crisis' through the Persian Looking Glass: The Documentation of the Urabi Revolt in Istanbul's Akhtar," Iranian Studies 51:2 (March 2018): 245-267.

(127.) "Iran," Akhtar (Istanbul), no. 7, 14 October 1889, 61-62; "Idara-yi Hifz al-Sihha," Akhtar (Istanbul), no. 8, 29 October 1889, 70; "Dar raf'-i nakhushi-yi vaba," Akhtar (Istanbul), no. 9, 28 October 1889, 75-76; "Raf'-i nakhushi-yi vaba az vilayat-i Mawsil va Iraq-i Arab," Akhtar (Istanbul), no. 18, 30 December 1889, 146; "Tarjuma-yi nizamnama," Akhtar (Istanbul), no. 5, 16 September 1890, 35-36; "Tadabir-i sahiyya," Akhtar (Istanbul), no. 6, 20 October 1891, 43; and "Taraqqi-yi tibabat va jarrahi," Akhtar (Istanbul), no. 15, 22 December 1891, 116.

(128.) "Maratib-i ghadr shinasi-yi Ingilisan," Akhtar (Istanbul), no. 12, 18 November 1889, 103.

(129.) "Iran," Akhtar (Istanbul), no. 7, 14 October 1889, 4,671-4,672.

(130.) "Manfi'at-i abilakubi," Akhtar (Istanbul), no. 17, 9 December 1890, 134.

(131.) "Maktub az Tehran," Akhtar (Istanbul), no. 27, 3 March 1890, 221-222; "Nakhushi-yi anfluinja," Akhtar (Istanbul), no. 24, 10 February 1890, 198-199; "Anfluanzha dar Iran," Akhtar (Istanbul), no. 30, 244; "Kazit nasiyunal," Akhtar (Istanbul), no. 12, 3 November 1890, 94; '"Alaj-i nakhushi-yi diq," Akhtar (Istanbul), no. 14, 17 November 1890, 109-110; "Dar chand nuskha," Akhtar (Istanbul), no. 15, 24 November 1890, 115; "Dugtur Gukh," and "Raqib bara-yi Dugtur Gukh," Akhtar (Istanbul), no. 17, 9 December 1890, 133-134, 135; "Baqiyya-yi guftar," Akhtar (Istanbul), no. 18, 16 December 1890, 142; "Dava-yi Dugtur Gukh," Akhtar (Istanbul), no. 21, 6 January 1891, 163; "Dava-yi nakhushi-yi diq," Akhtar (Istanbul), no. 8, 3 November 1891, 61-62.

(132.) "Surat-i raqq'a," Akhtar (Istanbul), no. 4, 9 September 1890, 28.

(133.) "Mawjibat-i sihhat-i tan va dirazi-yi 'umr," Akhtar (Istanbul), no. 20, 30 December 1890, 155-156; "Ta'assuf," Akhtar (Istanbul), no. 23, 20 January 1891, 182; "Quvvat-i badan," Akhtar (Istanbul), no. 9, 10 November 1891, 70; "Dava-yi dard-i dandan," and "Tadabiri hifz-i siyyat," Akhtar (Istanbul), no. 12, 1 December 1891, 92-94; "Nakhushi-yi anfluanzha," Akhtar (Istanbul), no. 15, 22 December 1891, 115; "Zuhur-i nakhushi-yi 'anfluinzha,' dar Tehran," Akhtar (Istanbul), no. 20, 26 January 1892, 157-158.

(134.) Afkhami, "Iran in the Age of Epidemics," 96.

(135.) For historical background on Mirza Malkum Khan and his newspaper, see Hamid Algar, Mirza Malkum Khan: A Study in the History of Iranian Modernism (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1973); and Huma Natiq's introduction to Mirza Malkum Khan, Kuznama-yi Qanun, edited by Huma Natiq (Tehran: Amir Kabir, 1976).

(136.) Qanun (London), no. 2, 22 March 1890, 1-2.

(137.) Qanun (London), no. 7, undated (but probably 22 August 1890), 2.

(138.) "Iran," Akbtar (Istanbul), no. 7, 14 October 1889, 4,671.

(139.) "Maktub az Tehran," Akhtar (Istanbul), no. 27, 3 March 1890, 221.

(140.) On the claims of these messianic figures, see Keddie, Religion and Rebellion, 136-140; "Asar-i naguvar-i jahalat," Akhtar (Istanbul), no. 14, 15 December 1891, 110.

(141.) "Takzib-i shayi'at-i drughin," Akhtar (Istanbul), no. 25, 17 February 1890, 205.

(142.) Afkhami, "Iran in the Age of Epidemics," 117.

(143.) For a classic account of the relations between the religious groups and the secular authorities in the nineteenth century, see Hamid Algar, Religion and State in Iran, 1785-1906: The Role of the Ulama in the Qajar Period (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1969).

(144.) Afkhami, "Disease and Water Supply," 215.

(145.) See, for example, Browne, A Year amongst the Persians, 216, 371-372, 412-413, 531-533; Bird, Journeys, vol. 2, 236; Ibrahim Safa'i, Rahbaran-i mashruta (Tehran: Javidan, 1984), vol. 1,226 (n. 2).

(146.) Curzon, Persia, vol. 2, 368-369.

(147.) Afkhami, "Iran in the Age of Epidemics," 112.

(148.) See, for example, Keddie, Religion and Rebellion, 94.

(149.) See, for example, Hiydaji, Risala, 123-124, 135-136.

(150.) "Mukhabbir-i ma az Tehran," Qanun (London), no. 8, undated (probably 20 September 1890), 2.

(151.) Similar images from science and medicine were also present in the writings of revolutionaries in other parts of the world; see, for example, Jack Fruchtman, Jr., "Common Sense," in Jack P. Greene and J. R. Pole, eds., A Companion to the American Revolution (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, Ltd., 2000), 256, which explains the presence of such images in the work of Thomas Paine.
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Author:Kazemi, Ranin
Publication:The Historian
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Geographic Code:7IRAN
Date:Dec 22, 2018
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