FALL 2015 SEMINARS - September 9 2015

Seminar on Iranian Studies

Dear Iranian Studies Seminar Members and Guests,
The first meeting of the 28th consecutive year of Columbia University Seminar on
Iranian Studies for the academic year 2015-2016 will take place on:

Wednesday, September 9, 2015
at 5:30 pm in the
Faculty House of Columbia University

Our speaker will be
Prof. Nahid Mozaffari of NYU
Who will lead the discussion on:
Courtier, Laborer, Dancer, Spouse:
Multiple Histories of Slavery in Qajar Iran

We will gather in the lounge of Faculty House from 5:00-5:30.
Seminar will start at 5:30.
Please notify our Rapporteur, Rafael Victor Lopez Ignacio at rli2103@columbia.edu if you will attend the lecture. (Please also specify if you will stay for dinner.)

We are looking forward to the pleasure of seeing you at the seminar.
Co-Chairs: Vahid Nowshirvani and Ahmad Ashraf

To reach the Faculty House:
Enter the Wien Hall Gate on 116th Street between Amsterdam Avenue and Morningside Drive. Walk past Wien Hall, then turn right to the Faculty House.


Historians of the Middle East and Iran have differed in their definitions, theoretical perspectives, and socio-economic analyses of the history of slavery during the long 19th century in Iran and its neighboring regions. After presenting an overview of the theoretical perspectives on the history of slavery in the region, I address the following questions:  How can we situate slaves in the economic and social structure of the country during this time period?  How did the question of the shifting boundaries of Iran affect the patterns of who was enslaved and how? How did the question of slavery and race play out in Iran? How do we look at the history of slaves as subjects? What were the cultural and artistic repercussions of the institution of slavery in Iranian society?

I have utilized archival sources such as state records, shari’a and provincial court documents, census records, manumission records, slave narratives, and family documents (letters, powers of attorney, photographs) as well as secondary analyses, for this presentation and particularly, for the forthcoming book on this subject.


Nahid Mozaffari has been Visiting Associate Professor at the Department of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at New York University from 2012 to 2015. She has taught at NYU in New York and Paris and at the New School for Social Research. She received her PhD in History and Middle Eastern Studies from Harvard University. Her publications include Strange Times, My Dear: The PEN Anthology of Contemporary Iranian Literature 2005, 2013, “An Iranian Modernist Project: Ali Akbar Dehkhoda’s Writings in the Constitutional Period” in Iran’s Constitutional Revolution (IB Tauris 2010), “Civic Piety: Visions of Secularity in Constitutional Iran” Religion and Secularity, Brill, 2013, and most recently, “Portrait of Iran, Where Revolution Is Ideological and the Costs Are Human: Nazila Fathi’s ‘The Lonely War’ Is a Memoir of Iran”, The New York Times, January 1st, 2015. She is currently writing in and editing The History of Slavery in Qajar Iran.  Her research interests include:  constitutional movements in the Middle East, intellectual history, history of slavery, social history (19th-20th centuries).  From 2016, she will be joining the Humanities Center for Advanced Studies at the University of Leipzig.