As a professor and translator fluent in Arabic, English, Farsi and Turkish, this scholar specializes in Turkish history and in early modern and modern Iranian history. He holds a Ph.D. in the history of Islamicate Iran from a prominent university in Tehran. The scholar’s current research focuses on military and religious reforms in early modern Iran and Ottoman-Iranian relations in the first half of the 19th century.
Prior to receiving SRF support in April 2008, the scholar served as an assistant professor in Iran where he suffered regular pressure from the Iranian government as a result of his teachings and publications. His university lectures on the Safavid period (1502-1736) were denounced by the government as both “liberal and secular” in nature and provoked government suspicions about his academic work and general political leanings. After publishing a Farsi translation of a biography of Ali Shariati, the scholar was labeled an “ideological non-conformist” and dismissed from his university post. Following his dismissal, the scholar faced persistent questioning by security officials about his academic works and received direct threats of violence if he continued to conflict with the government’s beliefs. The scholar felt he had no choice but to leave Iran and since his departure, conditions for academics and intellectuals in Iran have continued to deteriorate.
With SRF fellowship support, this scholar has held appointments as a Visiting Scholar at New York University (NYU) in the Ewen Center for Academic Freedom and the Remarque Institute from January 2009 through June 2010. While on fellowship he has contributed three articles to the Encyclopedia Iranica and authored a paper on fugitive scholars from Safavid Iran in the Ottoman Empire, accepted for publication in the Journal of Economic and Social History of the Orient. The article explores the administrative pressures placed on religious scholars in Iran to conform to the dictates of Shi’a Islam through a study of original Arabic biographical dictionaries. The scholars’ translation (from English to Farsi) of an essential text, The Ottoman Empire: The Classical Age, 1300-1600 by a Turkish-American scholar was recently published in Iran and he has penned a book review forthcoming in the journal Iranian Studies.
Following President Ahmadenijad’s re-election on June 12, 2009 and since the wave of protests in response to the widely disputed election results, the Iranian regime has intensified its attacks and pressures on academics. Government troops and militias have confronted the hundreds of thousands of demonstrators with excessive, violent and sometimes lethal force. Hundreds of intellectuals, along with opposition leaders, journalists, lawyers, doctors and countless students, have been detained for participating in the protests or on suspicions of sympathy towards the political opposition. Many of those held in detention have alleged torture, rape and other forms of physical abuse. The mass trials of many political detainees have been condemned by groups such as Human Rights Watch and the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran as farcical and in violation of international standards of due process and Iranian law. At the same time, restrictions on academic freedom and freedom of expression appear to be tightening as political pressure to Islamize Iranian higher education increases and security forces continue to invade universities, arresting students and faculty.