Rethinking Iranian Studies

JHI Working Group active in 2019-2020


Rethinking Iranian Studies began in 2018-2019 to explore contemporary debates and disciplinary challenges involved in the study of modern Iran, and to encourage intellectual exchange within the growing community of Iran scholars at the University of Toronto and more widely in the Greater Toronto Area. Iranian modernity is a contested topic and continues to influence current scholarship on Iran. Earlier works framed the 20th and 21st centuries in terms of Western liberal thought, but more recently, a cohort of postcolonial scholars has challenged the framework of dichotomies (such as tradition/modernity, secularism/religion, democracy/theocracy).  Rethinking Iranian Studies engages with this body of scholarship to explore non-Western ideas of modernity and current political and cultural formations in Iran. In the coming year, we will look at Islam and the modern state, the Islamic State (IS) and Islamic forms of governance (the Sharia), and the role of medicalization in the formation of the nation-state in Iran. Leadership of our monthly meetings rotates among group members. In the Fall term, we will explore the existing body of knowledge in these fields, and in the Winter term, members will share works-in-progress.


  • Jairan Gahan, Postdoctoral fellow, FAS Near & Middle Eastern Civilizations
  • Jennifer Jenkins, FAS History
  • Delbar Khakzad, Ph.D. student, Study of Religion
  • Mohamad Tavakoli Targhi, UTM Historical Studies

Faculty, University of Toronto

  • Farzaneh Hemmasi, Faculty of Music
  • Neda Maghbouleh, UTM Sociology
  • Shahrzad Mojab, Faculty of Education
  • Nasim Niknafs, Faculty of Music
  • Sara Saljoughi, UTSC English
  • Victoria Tahmasebi-Birgani, UTM Historical Studies

Faculty outside University of Toronto

  • Farzin Vejdani, History, Ryerson University
  • Nima Naghibi, English, Ryerson University

Graduate Students, University of Toronto

  • Saharnaz Samaeinejad, Comparative Literature
  • Mahdieh Valizadeh, Comparative Literature
  • Shirin Gerami, Anthropology
  • Mahshid Zandi, Study of Religion
  • Hadi Milanloo, Faculty of Music
  • Hamidreza Salehyar, Faculty of Music
  • Marjan Moosavi, Drama, Theatre & Performance Studies
  • Sheragim Jenabzadeh, Faculty of Education