In recognition of his rich, pioneering and long-term academic contributions to the field of Iranian research and studies and his long standing and enduring friendship to the International Institute of Social history, the board of directors of IISH decided to offer the status of honorary fellowship to Amir Houshang Kesharvarz.
Born in 1933 in Tehran, Houshang Keshavarz obtained his BA in 1963 in Social Sciences and in 1967 his Anthropology from University of Tehran. From 1967 he joined the Institute for Social Studies and Research, home to the cream of Iranian dissident-scholars, many of whom vacillated between active political opposition and critical academic research as a means to understand and transform society. At the age of forty he became the Chair of the Department of Tribal Studies. his extensive and thorough on-hand fieldwork among nomadic and sedentary communities provided him with unparalleled first hand information which came to constitute the seminal raw material for some 22 monographs on a vast stretch of the Iranian soil as well as a great variety of Iranian tribes including the Bakhtiaris, Lurs, Shahsavans and Doshmanziaris.
In 1978 he was appointed Director of the Centre for Indigenous Development Studies, the research arm and effective think-tank of the Alashtar Indigenous Regional Development Project. At the Centre, he formed an effective and bright team of experts who introduced a system of participatory research based on the initiative of the local population. Based on his rich past experience at the Institute for Social Studies, his teams of researchers criss-crossed and combed the region for hard-to-obtain data necessary for the Project's planned development strategies. His developed sense of socio-anthropological reality of the region based on the Centre's empirical research and his own intuition weighed in and impacted the long-run perception and objectives of the Alashtar Project.
In 1979 he was appointed Deputy Minister of Agriculture in Bazargan's Provisional Government and later he became President's Rural and Agricultural Advisor. In 1981 he was forced into exile as he became ever more disappointed with the political developments in Iran signalling the return of many of those vices and wrongs which he had struggled against in the previous regime. In Paris, concerned with providing an arena for Iranian exiles and immigrants where they would remain in touch with their cultural traditions and reflect on their past heritage and present predicament, he established a cultural and research centre which became the cross-road of diverse political tendencies, all of whom respected and appreciated his independence of thought and integrity. Since 1986, he has been the President and Director of CIDR, the Centre for Iranian Documentation and Research. In October 2005 an agreement was reached with the International Institute of Social History to transfer the CIDR collection to the IISH.