Resistance to economic penetration: The Kārguzār and foreign firms in Qajar Iran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


European merchants and investors doing business in the Middle East during the long 19th century expected that commercial disputes in mixed cases would be conducted according to procedures and laws familiar to and accepted by them. In the Ottoman Empire and Egypt, mixed courts based on the French commercial code were established during that century. The Qajars, however, offered the foreign commercial community a different judicial institution: the local kārguzār (agent) and his majlis (court). By the beginning of the 20th century, thirty-six kārguzār offices operated in Iranian towns and harbors. Nevertheless, foreign (mainly British) merchants and their consuls complained bitterly that it was not an effective institution and that it clearly favored the local tujjār (big merchants). They claimed that these defects meant huge financial losses to them. The Qajars viewed this institution and its functioning differently. It served their policy of discouraging foreign penetration, and it contributed to the competitiveness of the Iranian tujjār in their struggle for commercial superiority.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-23
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Middle East Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Resistance to economic penetration: The Kārguzār and foreign firms in Qajar Iran'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this