Majid Rahnema
Majid Rahnema is a diplomat and former Minister of Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

, born in 1924 in Tehran
Tehran , sometimes spelled Teheran, is the capital of Iran and Tehran Province. With an estimated population of 8,429,807; it is also Iran's largest urban area and city, one of the largest cities in Western Asia, and is the world's 19th largest city.In the 20th century, Tehran was subject to...

. He represented Iran at the UN from 1957 to 1971. He works on problems of poverty
Poverty is the lack of a certain amount of material possessions or money. Absolute poverty or destitution is inability to afford basic human needs, which commonly includes clean and fresh water, nutrition, health care, education, clothing and shelter. About 1.7 billion people are estimated to live...

 and production processes of poverty by the market economy
Market economy
A market economy is an economy in which the prices of goods and services are determined in a free price system. This is often contrasted with a state-directed or planned economy. Market economies can range from hypothetically pure laissez-faire variants to an assortment of real-world mixed...



Long ambassador, he represented Iran at the UN for twelve successive sessions of 1957 to 1971.
He was Commissioner of the United Nations in Rwanda
Rwanda or , officially the Republic of Rwanda , is a country in central and eastern Africa with a population of approximately 11.4 million . Rwanda is located a few degrees south of the Equator, and is bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo...

 and Burundi
Burundi , officially the Republic of Burundi , is a landlocked country in the Great Lakes region of Eastern Africa bordered by Rwanda to the north, Tanzania to the east and south, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west. Its capital is Bujumbura...

 in 1959, for elections and the referendum that led these countries to independence. He also served on the University Council of the United Nations from 1974 to 1978, and also resident representative of the United Nations in Mali
Mali , officially the Republic of Mali , is a landlocked country in Western Africa. Mali borders Algeria on the north, Niger on the east, Burkina Faso and the Côte d'Ivoire on the south, Guinea on the south-west, and Senegal and Mauritania on the west. Its size is just over 1,240,000 km² with...


Between 1967 and 1971 he was Minister of Science and Higher Education in Iran under the Shah
Shāh is the title of the ruler of certain Southwest Asian and Central Asian countries, especially Persia , and derives from the Persian word shah, meaning "king".-History:...

. In 1971, he created an Institute for Studies of Endogenous Development, inspired by the educational ideas of Paulo Freire, to begin a development project basis with the farmers of Lorestan [2].

After his retirement in 1985 he taught at the University of California at Berkeley for six years, then, from 1993, to Claremont Pitzer Colleges. He then settled in France, where he teaches at the American University of Paris
American University of Paris
The American University of Paris is a private, independent, and accredited liberal arts and sciences university in Paris, France. Founded in 1962, the university is one of the oldest American institutions of higher education in Europe...


His many diplomatic activities in the third world led him to reflect on the development, particularly on poverty. He comes to distinguish the "poverty" (lifestyle based on moderation, which may be voluntary cf. Voluntary simplicity) of the "misery" (lack of access to livelihood). The reflection of twenty years will lead to the publication of his book When poverty forces Poverty (2003). In this book, the author summarizes his approach: The spread of widespread misery and poverty is a social scandal obviously unacceptable, especially in companies perfectly capable of avoiding it. And the visceral rebellion it provokes in us is quite understandable and justified. But this is not by increasing the machine power to create goods and hardware products that this scandal will end, because the machine put into operation this effect is the same one that consistently produces misery.
He is now trying to understand the many reasons and causes of scandal.
It is this research that brings me now to show how a radical transformation of our lifestyle, including a reinvention of the chosen poverty, has now become the sine qua non of any serious struggle against new forms of production misery.

Friend of Ivan Illich
Ivan Illich
Ivan Illich was an Austrian philosopher, Roman Catholic priest, and "maverick social critic" of the institutions of contemporary western culture and their effects on the provenance and practice of education, medicine, work, energy use, transportation, and economic development.- Personal life...

, he participated in his reflections on development. [4]


  • (fr) Apprendre à être , Fayard/Unesco 1972
co-written with Edgar Faure
Edgar Faure
Edgar Faure was a French politician, essayist, historian, and memoirist.-Career:Faure was born in Béziers, Languedoc-Roussillon. He trained as a lawyer in Paris and became a member of the Bar at 27, the youngest lawyer in France to do so at the time...

  • (fr) Le Nord perdu, repères pour l'après développement' , Lausanne, éditions d'En-bas 1992
co-written with Gilbert Rist
Gilbert Rist
Gilbert Rist was a professor at the institut universitaire d'études du développement in Geneva. He is best known for his ground-breaking study of the concept and practice of development.-Writings:English...

 and Gustavo Esteva
Gustavo Esteva
Gustavo Esteva is a Mexican activist, "deprofessionalized intellectual" and founder of the Universidad de la Tierra in the Mexican city of Oaxaca. He is one of the best known advocates of Post-Development.-Life:...

  • (en) The Post-Development Reader, compiled and introduced by Majid Rahnema with Victoria Bawtree , Zed Books 1997
  • (fr) Quand la misère chasse la pauvreté , Fayard/Actes Sud 2003
  • (with Jean Robert ) (fr) La puissance des pauvres , Actes Sud 2008

External links

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