Grant TypePost PhD Research Grant
Institutional AffiliationNorthwestern U.
Grant numberGr. 10583
Approve DateSeptember 29, 2023
Project TitleYildiz, Emrah (Northwestern U.) "Outsmarting Sanctions: Value, Mobility and Security between Iran and Turkey"
Since the 2012 sanctions dis-embedded the Iranian economy from global markets, contraband commerce has become highly contested in Iran. Iranians have come to regard sanctions as enforced by both international powers and their own state officials, who criminalized certain kinds of cross-border trade but not others. Although Iranian state actors distinguish between traders—praised for contributing to the economy—and traitors—denounced for undermining its integrity—what blurs the line between them is their shared struggle with a devaluing currency that some Iranians call not a “soft currency” but a “nuclear” one. With a growing and young population’s ever-increasing demand for consumer goods, sanctions have produced new configurations of exchange—characterized by not only nuclear rials but also golden apartments. Sanctions might have nuclearized Iranians’ money, but their goal to globally isolate Iran’s national economy had the opposite effect: it pulled Iran, more than ever, into a regionally networked economy. This project traces this economy across Turkey and Iran. In bringing into the same analytical frame cross-border movements of money and land as experiments in mitigating the impacts of sanctions, this project traces how those movements themselves transform the very terms and forms of value, mobility and security under sanctions.