Refiguring Iranian Studies

Membership, description of activities, contact information

Refiguring Iranian Studies

The goal of this working group is to explore the timely debates and disciplinary challenges confronting studies of modern Iran, as well as to engender intellectual exchange amongst a growing interdisciplinary community of scholars, both at the University of Toronto and in the broader GTA area. Beginning in the 19th century, Iran has gone through major transformations of its state and society. Starting with the Constitutional Revolution (1905-1911), the foundations of its twentieth-century state were put in place. This included the emergence of new regimes of governance and the establishment of modern legal, economic, medical, and social welfare institutions. At the same time, technological advancement, urban-rural migration, and changes associated with increasing globalization radically shifted people’s everyday lives, from their cultural practices to literary and artistic productions. Iranian modernity has been a controversial and contested topic of investigation as it continues to influence contemporary studies of Iran. The study of the twentieth and the twenty first centuries has itself gone through major historiographical shifts. Earlier scholarly works framed this period in terms of theories of Western liberal thought: the dichotomous conceptions of tradition/modernity, secularism/religion and democracy/theocracy. Over the past two decades however, a cohort of post-colonial scholars have challenged these frameworks. This reading group engages with and builds on this recent body of scholarship to explore new methodological and theoretical frameworks that allow for an exploration of non-Western genealogies of modernity and modern political and cultural formations in Iran.
    These issues will be explored across a broad range of disciplines, particularly history, literary studies, religious studies, anthropology, cinema studies, ethnomusicology, and women and gender studies. This reading group will be a valuable opportunity for junior and senior scholars of modern Iran, for graduate students and faculty members, who are otherwise confined within disciplinary and institutional fields, to come together to create a new shared body of knowledge of the field.
    In collaboration with the Toronto Initiative for Iranian Studies, the working group will host monthly scholarly meetings with a rotating leadership among group members. In the first semester, we will explore the existing body of knowledge that introduces and engages with major disciplinary challenges to this field. In the second semester, members will share their work-in-progress, which will be pre-circulated to the group as a whole. We will also be inviting two leading scholars in the field to present their most recent scholarship and to reflect on issues of larger methodological concern.

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

Faculty, University of Toronto
Farzaneh Hemmasi, Faculty of Music
Neda Maghbouleh, UTM Sociology
Shahrzad Mojab, Leadership, Higher & Adult Education, OISE
Nazim Niknafs, Faculty of Music
Sara Saljoughi, UTSC English

Faculty outside University of Toronto

Farzin Vejdani, History, Ryerson University

Postdoctoral Fellow
Amir Khadem, Comparative Literature; Jackman Humanities Institute

Graduate Students, University of Toronto

Zainab Farrokhi, Women & Gender Studies
Amir Ganjavi, OISE
Sheragin Jenabzadeh, History
Hadi Milanloo, Faculty of Music
Marjan Moosavi, Drama, Theatre & Performance Studies
Hamidra Salehyar, Faculty of Music
Saharnaz Samaeinejad, Comparative Literature
Mary Yoshinari, Near & Middle Eastern Civilizations
Mahshid Zandi, Study of Religion

Graduate Students outside University of Toronto
Lydia Wytenbroek, History, York University