Matthee, Rudi 1953- (Rudolph P. Matthee)
Matthee, Rudi 1953- (Rudolph P. Matthee)
University of Delaware, Newark, Unidel Distinguished Professor of History.
Association for the Study of Persianate Societies (president, 2003-05).
(Editor, with Beth Baron) Iran and Beyond: Essays in Middle Eastern History in Honor of Nikki R. Keddie, Mazda Publishers (Costa Mesa, CA), 2000.
(Editor, with Nikki R. Keddie) Iran and the Surrounding World: Interactions in Culture and Cultural Politics, University of Washington Press (Seattle, WA), 2002.
The Pursuit of Pleasure: Drugs and Stimulants in Iranian History, 1500-1900, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 2005.
Rudi Matthee is a specialist in the study of Iranian cultural history, mainly in the last five centuries. Matthee has authored two scholarly studies, The Politics of Trade in Safavid Iran: Silk for Silver, 1600-1730 and The Pursuit of Pleasure: Drugs and Stimulants in Iranian History, 1500-1900, both of which address the interplay between religion, commerce, and lifestyle in early modern Iran. Additionally, Matthee has edited two collections of essays, Iran and Beyond: Essays in Middle Eastern History in Honor of Nikki R. Keddie with Beth Baron, and Iran and the Surrounding World: Interactions in Culture and Cultural Politics with Keddie. All of these books seek to enlarge an understanding of Iran both as a power in the Middle East and as an important nation in current world politics.
Iran and the Surrounding World addresses, through a series of essays, the way Iranians view themselves and their country in relation to other cultures and nations. The collection includes explorations of the interaction between ethnic groups in Iran, as well as the role of Islam in the shaping of day-to-day life from an individual to a national level. One of the essays focuses on social studies textbooks used in elementary classrooms, another upon a cleric who seeks to find unity between Sunni and Shiite Muslims. In a piece in the Military Review, Youssef H. Aboul-Enein concluded: "Middle East affairs officers, foreign area officers, intelligence specialists, and psychological operations specialists should read this book. It is excellent."
Matthee's The Pursuit of Pleasure chronicles the use of euphoric and addictive substances in Iran in the years between 1500 and 1900. Matthee examines Iranians' consumption of alcohol, opium, marijuana, tobacco, coffee, and tea during various eras, despite religious and social prohibitions against alcohol and tobacco in particular. "What the book makes clear is that, depending on their means and the availability and price of stimulants, Persians consumed them with abandon showing they were and are remarkably like people elsewhere," observed Willem Floor in the Middle East Journal. Floor noted that the book's "engaging style brings to life for the modern reader the social context in which the stimulants were consumed." According to Fakhreddin Azimi in the Historian, Matthee's work "helps to debunk some of the facile assumptions regarding Islam as the sole determinant of behavior among Muslims." The reviewer further styled the book "a stimulating and significant contribution to Iranian sociocultural history, which might also be profitably read for a better understanding of present-day Iran."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Historical Review, October, 2006, Richard W. Bulliet, review of The Pursuit of Pleasure: Drugs and Stimulants in Iranian History, 1500-1900, p. 1286.
Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, March, 2003, L. Beck, review of Iran and the Surrounding World: Interactions in Culture and Cultural Politics, p. 1242.
Economic History Review, May, 2006, James H. Mills, review of The Pursuit of Pleasure, p. 420.
Historian, winter, 2006, Fakhreddin Azimi, review of The Pursuit of Pleasure, p. 820.
Middle East Journal, winter, 2006, Willem Floor, review of The Pursuit of Pleasure, p. 164.
Military Review, May 1, 2004, Youssef H. Aboul-Enein, review of Iran and the Surrounding World, p. 73.
University of Delaware,http://www.udel.edu/ (May 5, 2008), author profile.