Dr. Majid Labbaf Khaneiki

Humangeographie und Transformationsforschung
Telefon: 0821 / 598 2282
Raum: 1011 (B)
Adresse: Alter Postweg 118, 86159 Augsburg

Research Background

Majid Labbaf Khaneiki is a human geographer who specializes in water history and social aspects of water in local communities, where water establishes a nexus of political, social, and economic structures. The human-water relationship is what has overwhelmed him over the past years.

He started his academic training with agricultural engineering for a bachelor’s degree, but he continued his training at the department of human geography, University of Tehran. His PhD dissertation revolves around water cooperation in traditional agrarian communities.

Over the past years, he has been working as senior researcher for the International Center on Qanats and Historic Hydraulic Structures, a UNESCO category two center (UNESCO-ICQHS). He has also conducted or cooperated with over 20 research projects on water issues in Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, India and Azerbaijan.

His latest book “Cultural Dynamics of Water in Iranian Civilization” conceptualizes water as a pivotal element of Iran’s historical identity and cultural dynamics. This book examines the role of intermittent droughts in engendering and diffusing intangible cultural elements across the Iranian plateau. This book also delves into Iran’s political organizations most of which have been ensnared in a water-dependent lifecycle constituting a historical pattern described in this book as “hydraulic collapse”.


Research Interests


  • Hydro-social cycles
  • Indigenous water knowledge
  • Qanat system
  • Water history
  • Water-human relations

Ongoing tasks at the University of Augsburg

His research is focused on “Hydro-Social Justice in the History of Iran”. This research begins with the question how the Iranians used to perceive social justice over the course of history. This research touches upon religion and polity as two crucial pillars around which a social hierarchy has crystalized and then mutated into different forms over time. This hierarchy specifies who are more deserving of more rights according to its intrinsic social stratification.

His research examines the interrelations between water justice and political organization, which has been embodied in the water allocation systems. This research is also expected to give insight into hydro-social justice in a modern context, as a continuation of the previous historical patterns. His research will shed light on a complicated interplay between the social origin of the ruling power and the water allocation system from ancient times to the present.

Apart from his research, he lectures a seminar entitled “Water Issues in the Middle East and in Iran”.




Labbaf Khaneiki, M. (2020): Cultural Dynamics of Water in Iranian Civilization. Switzerland. Springer.


Labbaf Khaneiki, M. (2019): Territorial Water Cooperation in the Central Plateau of Iran. Switzerland. Springer.


Semsar Yazdi, A., Labbaf Khaneiki, M. (2019): Veins of the Desert. Denmark. River Publishers.


Semsar Yazdi, A., Labbaf Khaneiki, M. (2017): Qanat Knowledge: Construction and Maintenance. the Netherlands. Springer.


Semsar Yazdi, A., Labbaf Khaneiki, M. (2016): Qanats of Qasem Abad and Emamiyeh in Mashhad (in Persian). Iran. Mashhad Water and Wastewater Company


Labbaf Khaneiki, M., Semsar Yazdi, A. (2015): Qanat Tourism (in Persian). Iran. International Center on Qanats and Historic Hydraulic Structures (UNESCO-ICQHS).


Labbaf, R., Bakhtiyari, M., Toghrayi, M., Labbaf Khaneiki, M. (2014): Insight into Tabaran Region (in Persian). Mashhad. Iranian Cultural Heritage Organization.


Semsar Yazdi, A., Labbaf Khaneiki, M. (2011): Qanat in its Cradle. Iran. International Center on Qanats and Historic Hydraulic Structures (UNESCO-ICQHS).


Kuros, G., Labbaf Khaneiki, M. (2007): Water and Irrigation Techniques in Ancient Iran. Iran. Iranian National Committee on Irrigation and Drainage (IRNCID).


Labbaf Khaneiki, M. (2007): Water Division Systems in Iran (in Persian). Tehran. National Iranian Water Museum (NIWM).


Semsar Yazdi, A., Labbaf Khaneiki, M. (2005): A Survey on the Qanats of Bam from Technical and Engineering Points of View. Tehran. UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office.


Papoli Yazdi, M., Labbaf Khaneiki, M. (2003): Qanats of Taft (in Persian). Tehran. Iranian Cultural Heritage Organization.


Papoli Yazdi, M., Jalali, A., Labbaf Khaneiki, M. (2000): The Qanat of Gonabad as a Myth (in Persian). Mashhad. Khorasan Regional Water Authority.


Book Chapters and Journal Articles


Labbaf Khaneiki, M. (2020): Water and Cultural Landscape. In: A. Alehashemi, J. Coulais & G. Hubert (Eds.), Water & City; Hydraulic Systems and Urban Structures (pp. 47-59), Paris: L'oeil D'or.


Semsar Yazdi, A., Labbaf Khaneiki, M. (2018): Qanāts of Iran: Sustainable water supply system. In: Water and Society from Ancient Times to the Present. Sulas, F., Pikirayi, I. (Eds.) England. Routledge.


Semsar Yazdi, A., Labbaf Khaneiki, M. (2015): Overview on Technical and Cultural Heritage of Qanats in Bam Region. In: Cultural Heritages of Water: The Cultural Heritages of Water in the Middle East and Maghreb. France. ICOMOS.


Labbaf Khaneiki, M. (2020): Hydro-Political Organization in Iranian History. Water History Journal, DOI: 10.1007/s12685-020-00261-5


Labbaf Khaneiki, M. (2019): Qanat and Territorial Cooperation in Iran. Water History Journal. 11(3–4). 185–206. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12685-019-00236-1


Labbaf Khaneiki, M., Rezvani, M., Badri, A. (2019): Challenges of Territorial Cooperation on Common Groundwater Resources: through Grounded Theory (in Persian). Iran Water Resources Research Journal (IWRR). 15(1). 70-80


Labbaf Khaneiki, M., Rezvani, M., Badri, A. (2018): Process of the Territorial Cooperation for Exploitation of Qanat, Case Study: Qanat of Hasan Abad, Yazd Province (in Persian). Rural Researches Journal. DOI: 10.22059/jrur.2018.263890.1275


Labbaf Khaneiki, M., Rezvani, M., Lightfoot, D. (2017): Territorial Water Cooperation in Central Plateau of Iran and its Role in Sustainable Rural Development. Journal of Sustainable Rural Development. University of Tehran. 1(2). DOI: 10.29252/JSRD.01.02.101


Labbaf Khaneiki, M. (2014): Genesis of Qanat as a Collective Response to Climate Change in Iran (in Persian). Athar Scientific Journal. Iranian Cultural Heritage Organization. 35(67).