Rasmus Christian Elling

Rasmus Christian Elling

Associate Professor

I'm a social historian studying modern Iran through selected attention points: digital publics, urbanism, ethnicity, political movements and ideology. 

These are issues that I sometimes study separately and sometimes in overlaps, but always in conjunction with global histories of capitalism, imperialism, nationalism, urbanization and modernity. This is a methodology that can be called global micro-history (or historical sociology). In my work, I draw heavily on cultural analysis, geography and social theory, and apart from established archives, I work particularly with digital sources and media content, but also oral history, ethnography, biography, surveys, fiction and other materials.

I have worked with Iranian society, culture and politics for more than 20 years, lived and studied in Iran and I teach Iranian Studies, Middle East Studies and Cross-Cultural Studies.

Primary fields of research

I have written extensively about the following topics in the context of Iran:

  • ethnic minorities, nationalism, regionalism and identity politics
  • oil, urbanism, modernity and energy imperialism 
  • urban social movements, urban violence and urban culture
  • student movements and university politics 

I have primarily focussed on the 1940s, 1970s and 1990s but also worked on other periods.

Current research

My current projects (2023).

  • Iran beyond Iran: about Iranian politics as a transnational and digitized phenomenon;
  • TEHRAN 1999: about the student uprising and the political, social and cultural context;
  • 1979 and the End of Third-Worldism in the Middle East: about revolutionary movements in Iran and Palestine in the 1970s (with Sune Haugbølle, Professor at RUC);
  • The Iranian Revolution: an annotated collection of primary sources on the Iranian Revolution of 1978-'79, translated for the first time into Danish.


In the department of Middle East Studies, I teach: The Modern History of the Middle East (Iran track); Theory of Science for Middle East Students; Religion and Culture in the Middle East; Societal Debates with Persian Communication; and various elective courses.

In the department of Cross-Cultural Studies, I teach: Humanities in Practice (source criticism and historical method as well as general methodology); and Current Thematic Challenges (cultural analysis in practice).

I have also founded and taught a number of international summer schools under the name Global Urban Studies: Urban Culture in Theory and Action; Cultural Production in Urban Space; New Urban Life Across the Globe: Activism and Change in a World of Cities.

I have so far supervised one PhD student, Dr. Özlem Has (The Structured Agencies of Paramilitaries in the Kurdish-Turkish Conflict: The JiTEM Case).

Please note: It is not possible for me to simply "accept" PhD students. In Denmark, funding is a prerequisite and I do not have independent funding for hiring PhD candidates. Before contacting me, please read about the grant system and doing PhDs at UCPH.

توجه: این امکان برای من وجود ندارد که به میل خود دانشجوی دکتری را پذیرش کنم. در دانمارک تامین مالی یک پیش نیاز است و من شخصا بودجه مستقلی برای استخدام دانشجوی دکترا ندارم.

قبل از تماس با من، لطفاً در مورد سیستم کمک هزینه و دکتری در دانشگاه کپنهاگ مطالعه فرمایید: https://phd.humanities.ku.dk/become-phd-student/how-to/

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