How Sanctions Work: Iran and the Impact of Economic Warfare

Apr 3, 2024, 12:15 pm1:15 pm
Free, Open to the Public



Event Description



Sanctions have enormous consequences. Especially when imposed by a country with the economic influence of the United States, sanctions induce clear shockwaves in both the economy and political culture of the targeted state, and in the everyday lives of citizens. But do economic sanctions induce the behavioral changes intended? Do sanctions work in the way they should? 

To answer these questions, the authors of How Sanctions Work highlight Iran, the most sanctioned country in the world. Comprehensive sanctions are meant to induce uprisings or pressures to change the behavior of the ruling establishment, or to weaken its hold on power. But, after four decades, the case of Iran shows the opposite to be true: sanctions strengthened the Iranian state, impoverished its population, increased state repression, and escalated Iran's military posture toward the U.S. and its allies in the region. Instead of offering an 'alternative to war,' sanctions have become a cause of war. Consequently, this book reveals how necessary it is to understand how sanctions really work.


Narges Bajoghi

Narges Bajoghli (pronounced: Nar-guess Baa-jogh-lee) is Assistant Professor at Johns Hopkins University, School of Advanced International Studies. She is an award-winning anthropologist, writer, and professor.

Trained as a political anthropologist, media anthropologist, and documentary filmmaker, Narges' research is at the intersections of media, power, and resistance in Iran and the United States. She is the author of the award-winning book Iran Reframed: Anxieties of Power in the Islamic Republic (Stanford University Press 2019; winner 2020 Margaret Mead Award; 2020 Choice Award for Outstanding Academic Title; 2021 Silver Medal in Independent Publisher Book Awards for Current Events). She is also the author of the forthcoming How Sanctions Work: Iran and the Impact of Economic Warfare (with Vali Nasr, Djavad Salehi-Esfahani, and Ali Vaez; Stanford University Press 2024). Narges is currently writing a book on the impact of chemical war in Iran and Iraq (supported by the JHU Catalyst Award).
Narges' research has been supported by grants and fellowships from the Social Science Research Council, the National Science Foundation (awarded/declined), The Wenner Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, the American Institute of Iranian Studies, Johns Hopkins University, New York University, and Brown University.  She is the recipient of the Discovery Award and the Catalyst Award at Johns Hopkins University.
At Johns Hopkins University, Narges teaches classes on media, social movements, and counter-movements; contemporary Iranian politics and society; and ethnographic research methods to masters and PhD students. She is the recipient of the 2022 Excellence in Teaching Award at Johns Hopkins University, SAIS. Narges is the co-director of the Rethinking Iran Initiative at Johns Hopkins University, SAIS, which includes public events and research projects on contemporary Iranian society.   

Narges received her PhD in socio-cultural anthropology from New York University, where her dissertation was awarded the Dean's Outstanding Dissertation Award in the Social Sciences. She was also trained as a documentary filmmaker in NYU's Culture and Media Program and at the NYU Tisch School of the Arts. She is the director of The Skin That Burns, a documentary film about survivors of chemical war in Iran, distributed by Film Media Group. The film has screened at festivals and university campuses in The Hague, Hiroshima, Jaipur, Tehran, and throughout the U.S. (New York, New Orleans, New Jersey, Chicago, and Irvine). She has also directed oral history projects on survivors of chemical weapons (archived at the Tehran Peace Museum).

In addition to her academic writing, Narges has written for such publications as The New York Times, The New York Times MagazineVanity FairForeign Affairs, The Guardian, Foreign Policy, and Jacobin. She has appeared as a guest commentator on Iranian politics on CNNDemocracyNow!NPRBBC WorldServiceBBC NewsHour, and PBS NewsHour as well as in Spanish on radio programs across Latin America. 

Outside of academia, Narges is a community organizer, co-founder of a non-profit organization, and creator of educational programs for middle school, high school, and college students rooted in social justice pedagogy and organizing. Narges has worked with cultural and educational collectives in Iran and Latin America, and organized transnational cultural programming and exchanges for two decades.

Vali Nasr

Vali Nasr is the Majid Khadduri Professor of International Affairs and Middle East Studies at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), and a Non-Resident Senior Fellow at Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center. He served as the eighth Dean of Johns Hopkins SAIS between 2012 and 2019 and served as Senior Advisor to U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Ambassador Richard Holbrooke between 2009 and 2011.
Nasr is the author of The Dispensable Nation: American Foreign Policy in Retreat; Forces of Fortune: The Rise of a New Middle Class and How it Will Change Our World; The Shia Revival: How Conflicts within Islam will Shape the Future; Democracy in Iran: History and the Quest for Liberty; Islamic Leviathan, Islam and the Making of State Power; Mawdudi and the Making of Islamic Revivalism; and Vanguard of Islamic Revolution: Jama'at-i Islami of Pakistan; and numerous articles in scholarly journals.
He has advised senior American policymakers, world leaders, and businesses, including the President, Secretary of State, senior members of the Congress, and presidential campaigns. He has written for New York Times, Foreign Affairs, Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post, among others.
He is a member of the International Board of Advisors of the Blavatnik School of Government at Oxford University, the International Board of Advisors at the American University of Beirut, and the Board of Advisors of Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore. He has been the recipient of grants from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, and the Social Science Research Council, and was named a 2006 Carnegie Scholar.
He received his BA from Tufts University in International Relations summa cum laude and was initiated into Phi Beta Kappa in 1983. He earned his master's from the Fletcher School of Law in and Diplomacy in international economics and Middle East studies in 1984, and his PhD from MIT in political science in 1991.

Poster for the event, abstract and bio above.
Alison Cummins