The Iranian Studies Initiative at NYU (ISI-NYU) provides an intellectual and academic space for NYU faculty members and graduate students to study Iranian history, culture and society. Supported by the Gallatin School of Individualized Study and the Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies, ISI-NYU draws on faculty members from departments and centers across the University. Directed by Professor Ali Mirsepassi, ISI-NYU includes a translation service, a lecture series, lunch discussions and other public events, from art exhibitions to film screenings. ISI-NYU will reach out to academics at Columbia University, City University, the New School and Princeton University as well as the rich intellectual and artistic Iranian Diaspora community in New York City in pursuit of its mission to create a central place for the study of Iran.
Ali Mirsepassi is Albert Gallatin Research Excellence Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, New York University. He is also director of Iranian Studies Initiative at NYU. He was a 2007-2009 Carnegie Scholar and is the co-editor, with Arshin Adib-Moghadam, of The Global Middle East, a book series published by the Cambridge University Press.
He is the author of Iran’s Troubled Modernity: Debating Ahmad Fardid’s Legacy (Cambridge University Press, 2018), Transnationalism in Iranian Political Thought: The Life and Thought of Ahmad Fardid (Cambridge University Press, 2017), co-author, with Tadd Fernee, of Islam, Democracy, and Cosmopolitanism (Cambridge University Press, 2014); is the author of Political Islam, Iran and Enlightenment (Cambridge University Press, 2011), Democracy in Modern Iran (New York University Press, 2010), Intellectual Discourses and Politics of Modernization: Negotiating Modernity in Iran (Cambridge University Press, 2000), and Truth or Democracy (published in Iran); the co-editor of Localizing Knowledge in a Globalizing World (Syracuse University Press, 2002). His new book, Iran’s Quiet Revolution: The Downfall of the Pahlavi State, will be published in November 2019, Cambridge University Press.
Arang Keshavarzian earned his PhD from the Department of Politics at Princeton University in 2003 and joined the Department of Middle East & Islamic Studies in 2009. His research and teaching interests include the politics and political economy of the modern Middle East, Iranian history, and transnational approaches to the Persian Gulf. His book, Bazaar and State in Iran, traces the multiple and intersecting transformations in relations within and beyond the Tehran Bazaar under the Pahlavi monarchy and the Islamic Republic. Among his publications are journal articles and book chapters on clergy-state relations, smuggling, authoritarian survival, urbanism, and geopolitics and geo-economics. He is a member of the MERIP editorial committee.
Yass teaches Persian Language and Literature at NYU. She has a PhD in Comparative Literary and Cultural Studies from the University of Connecticut, a Masters of Arts from the University of Toronto, a Masters of Arts from Tehran University, and a Bachelor of Arts from Ferdowsi University of Mashhad. Her research focuses on the keen layering of ethical themes within the ambiguously coded language of rewritten folktales in 20th-century Iran, the intricate link between politics and fiction, and the critical role of metaphors in the political reframing of popular oral tales. Yass has been a Practitioner in Residence at the University of New Haven, where she has taught English and launched Persian as a second language. She has taught English Literature at Middlesex Community College and Persian at the University of Connecticut.
Mehdi Faraji is a PhD student at the department of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at NYU. He has also earned a PhD in Cultural Sociology from the University of Tehran in 2010. Mehdi was visiting scholar at the Department of Sociology at Harvard University in 2011. He is a member of the Association for the Study of Persianate Societies’ Board of Directors and ASPS newsletter editor.
Mehdi is interested in everyday life, cultural representation, religion, and socio-cultural changes in modern Iran. His dissertation will focus on the politics of masculinities in post-Revolutionary Iran. He has published journal articles on Westoxification, elite discourses, religiosity, and civilizing process.
Ayşe Baltacıoğlu-Brammer is a specialist in Middle Eastern history with a focus on early modern Ottoman and Safavid Empires. The questions surrounding the Sunni-Shi‘ite conflict during the early modern period and its enmeshment with issues of political, religious, and fiscal legitimacy in inter-confessional and inter-imperial contact zones is at the core of her research interests. Her current book project, tentatively titled Sect and Sectarianism in the Early Modern Middle East: Ottoman Sunnism, Safavid Shiism, and the Qizilbash, explores the Sunni-Shiite divergence in the early modern period, not merely as a religiously derived, but as a meticulously carried out geo-political and fiscal battle that formed the base of the sectarian conflict in the region.
Arash Azizi is a writer, translator and scholar living in New York City. His writings and commentary on politics, history and cinema have appeared in numerous publications. As a doctoral student at New York University, he researches the history of transnational links that bound Iran and the Arab World to each other in the framework of the broader Global Cold War. About a dozen of his book-length translations have appeared in Iran and abroad.
Graduate Student Assistant
Lynette Hacopian is a Master’s student at the department of Near Eastern Studies at NYU. She worked as a research fellow at a think tank in Armenia called Regional Studies Center, and a Research Assistant at the Center for Trans-boundary Water Management in Israel, as well as Al-Quds University, where she worked on projects related to connecting agricultural lands to wastewater treatment plants in the lower Jordan valley, assessed development needs, and analyzed climate and soil data using irrigation software. Lynette’s current research interests include the politicization of water and other natural resources in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as well as the history of Iraqi Jews in the ’40s and early ’50s.