Ciruce Movahedi-Lankarani

Farhang Foundation Chair in Iranian Studies and Assistant Professor of Middle East Studies
Ciruce Movahedi-Lankarani

Research & Practice Areas

Development in Iran; Energy Infrastructures in the Middle East; Scientific and Technological Imaginaries in Iran; Technology and Environmental Change; Social and Cultural Understandings of the Environment; History of Modern Iran

Center, Institute & Lab Affiliations

  • USC Dornsife Center on Science, Technology, and Public Life,


Ciruce A. Movahedi-Lankarani is the Farhang Foundation Early Career Chair in Iranian Studies in the Department of Middle East Studies at the University of Southern California. Ciruce studies modern Iran, focusing on the country’s history during the mid- and late-twentieth century. His work explores the entanglements of human and nonhuman factors that have shaped the development of Iranian society, particularly how the physical properties of its vast resources of fossil fuels and their attendant infrastructural assemblages have both reflected and influenced competing notions of progress, modernity, prosperity, and the environment during a time of self-conscious development. Through archival and published sources collected primarily in Iran and the United Kingdom, he examines how domestic and international visions for natural gas, everyday experiences of its use, and concerns for the environment shaped Iranian development and politics during that time. His work reflects his interest in the inseparability of humanity and the natural world, particularly how the physical properties of gas, Iran’s geology and geography, and the materiality of Iran’s gas infrastructure intertwined to shape Iranian understandings of and hopes for their country’s future.

Ciruce’s research reflects not only his interest in Iranian history, but also his training and professional experience in engineering. Through those experiences he developed an interest in how people interact with technology, and on a broad level his work seeks to explore the historically-contingent ways people have encountered, adopted, adapted, translated, and rejected technologies in both practical and ideational terms. In emphasizing the environmental contexts in which such events were embedded, he studies how imaginaries of technology and the environment in the Global South have had and will have profound implications for humanity and the natural world within which we are enmeshed

Ciruce’s work has been supported by the Social Science Research Council.


  • Ph.D. History, University of Pennsylvania, 2020
  • M.A. Social Sciences, University of Chicago, 2012
  • B.S. Computer Science & Mathematics, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, 2005
  • Tenure Track Appointments

    • Farhang Foundation Early Career Chair in Iranian Studies & Assistant Professor of Middle East Studies, University of Southern California, 2021 –

    PostDoctoral Appointments

    • Postdoctoral Scholar – Research Associate, University of Southern California, 2020-2021
  • Research Keywords

    development, energy, environment, fossil fuel, Iran, infrastructure, technology

  • Contracts and Grants Awarded

    • NEH Dangers and Opportunities of Technology: Perspectives from the Humanities, (National Endowment for the Humanities), Ciruce Movahedi-Lankarani $70,000, 2023-2024
    • International Dissertation Research Fellowship, (Social Science Research Council), Ciruce Movahedi-Lankarani $50,000, 2016-2017
  • Journal Article

    • Movahedi-Lankarani, C. A. (2023). Precarious Petroleum: Volatile Reservoirs, Varied Natural Gas Compositions, and Development in Iran. Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Vol. 44 (1)
    • Movahedi-Lankarani, C. A. (2022). Ghoul at the Gates: Natural Gas Energy and the Environment in Pahlavi Iran, 1960-1979. International Journal of Middle East Studies, Cambridge University Press. (54:1), pp. 80-99.
    • Iran: Antiquity to Modernity, MDES, Fall 2022
    • Surviving Climate Change in the Middle East, GESM, Spring 2022
  • Conferences Organized

    • , Petrocultures 2024: Los Angeles, Los Angeles, 2023-2024

    Reviewer for Publications

    • The Extractive Industries and Society, , 2023 –
    • International Journal of Middle East Studies, , 2022 –
    • Iranian Studies, , 2021 –

    Media, Alumni, and Community Relations

    • Interviewee for “Women. Life. Freedom.” documentary,
    • Consulting for Los Angeles Conservancy,