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Scholars reflect on Ehsan Yarshater's remarkable contributions and lasting impact on the study of Iranian history, literature, culture, and the arts. Dr. Yarshater (1920-2018) was Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies at Columbia University, the founder and director of Columbia’s Center for Iranian Studies, and the founding editor of the Encyclopædia Iranica. In 2016, he was awarded the Bita Prize in Persian Arts from the Hamid and Christina Moghadam Program in Iranian Studies at Stanford University.
Speakers: Mahnaz Afkhami, Ali Banuazizi, Mandana Zandian. Moderated by Abbas Milani.
Mahnaz Afkhami – Yarshater's Impact on The Foundation for Iranian Studies
The pioneering work of the Foundation for Iranian Studies (FIS) began in 1981. It was a time of loss and confusion—a characteristic of revolution and exile—but even more challenging, a time of division, anger, and animosity among the diaspora. Ehasan Yarshater provided pivotal support in a variety of areas of the Foundation's work, especially by sharing and supporting the idea that the prevailing battle against all that was Persian in Iran's history, literature, and the arts was an existential threat to the self-definition of Iranians. He assembled a substantial research library without which the FIS journal, Iran Nameh (ed. Jalal Matini), could not fulfill its purpose. Ms. Afkhami will provide a brief summary of the interaction and collaboration between the team at FIS and Dr. Yarshater's expanse of interests and initiatives.
Mahnaz Afkhami is the founder, president, and CEO of Women’s Learning Partnership , Executive Director of Foundation for Iranian Studies, and former Minister for Women’s Affairs in Iran. Afkhami has been a leading advocate of women's rights for more than four decades, having founded and served as director and president of several international non-governmental organizations that focus on advancing women's status. Afkhami has served on advisory boards and steering committees of a number of national and international organizations including the Smithsonian's National Museum of Asian Art, the Foundation for Iranian Studies, The Global Fund for Women, Women’s Learning Partnership, Women's Rights Division of Human Rights Watch, and the World Movement for Democracy. She has appeared on the BBC, CNN, and PBS and in numerous television and radio interviews on NPR, BBC Persian, VOA Persian and other international outlets. Afkhami’s publications have been widely translated and distributed internationally, including Women in Exile; Faith and Freedom: Women’s Human Rights in the Muslim World and In the Eye of the Storm: Women in Post-Revolutionary Iran. Her forthcoming memoir titled, The Other Side of Silence: A Memoir of Exile, Iran, and the Global Women's Movement, will be released in fall of 2022.
Ali Banuazizi – Yarshater's Formative and Lasting Contributions to Iranian Studies
A brief overview of Professor Ehsan Yarshater’s lifetime contributions to the study of Iranian history and culture. He was not only the leading scholar of his generation in several areas of Iranian studies, but one who devoted his entire professional life to building institutions and initiating projects with lasting impact. With examples drawn from the recently published collection of Yarshater’s notes and reflections, the talk will also illustrate how widely he cast his eyes—beyond his own intellectual pursuits—on various aspects of Iran’s history, popular culture, and politics, offering constructive criticisms to advance the work of others.
Ali Banuazizi is Research Professor of Political Science at Boston College and Research Fellow at the Center for International Studies at M.I.T. After receiving his Ph. D. from Yale University in 1968, he taught at Yale and the University of Southern California before joining the Boston College Faculty in 1971. Since then, he has held visiting appointments at the University of Tehran, Princeton, Harvard, and Oxford University. He served as the founding editor of the journal of "Iranian Studies" from 1968 to 1982. He is a past President of the Association for Iranian Studies (AIS), of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA), and Associate Editor of the "Encyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim World" (2016). He is the author of numerous articles on society, culture, and politics of Iran and the Middle East, and the co-author (with A. Ashraf) of "Tabaqat-e ijtima’i, dowlat va enqelab dar Iran" [Social Classes, the State and Revolution in Iran] (1387/2008); co-editor (with M. Weiner) of three books on politics, religion and society in Southwest and Central Asia, and co-editor (with A. Babaknia) of "Ardeshir Monassess: A Retrospective" (2022).
Mandana Zandian – Understanding Yarshater Through His "Diaries"
Diaries contains a series of notes written by Dr. Ehsan Yarshater—the most prominent Iranian studies scholar of our time— over a period of 26 years (1986-2012) for the journals Irannameh and Iranshenasi (ed. Jalal Matini). Yarshater's notes narrate his observations and evaluations in many thematic areas related to the study of Iran including various historical and political perspectives, as well as his comprehensive knowledge of Persian language, literature, and culture in different historical periods. Dr. Zandian discusses Diaries and Professor Yarshater's contribution to Persian literature, culture, and art.
Mandana Zandian is a graduate of Shahid Beheshti Medical School in 1997. She works at the Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles and is currently engaged in research on aggressive types of advanced cancers. Dr. Zandian, also a published poet, author, and journalist, serves on the editorial board of the Rahavard quarterly journal and collaborates with Homa Sarshar in her weekly Radio Programs. A selection of Zandian’s love poems is translated into English by Professor Ahmad Karimi-Hakkak as An Eyeful of Earth, An Eyeful of Ocean (Los Angeles, 2014). Her books include: “Omid o Azadi” (Hope and Freedom), on the life and works of Iraj Gorgin (Los Angeles, 2012); “Baz-khani-e Dah-Shab” (The Ten-Nights Revisited), (Los Angeles, 2014); Ehsan Yarshater: an Interview with Mandana Zandian (Los Angeles, 2016). Dr. Zandian has edited several works including the play "Rostam az Haal-e Pesarash Sohrab Bi-Khabar Ast," (Rostam is Unware of Sohrab, His Son), a play written by Houshang Touzie (Los Angeles, 2021). Most recently, she edited "Yaddashtha" (Diaries), collection of notes written between 1986-2012 for the Journals "Irannameh" and "Iranshenasi", by Dr. Ehsan Yarshater (Washington DC, 2021).
Moderator: Abbas Milani is the Director of the Hamid and Christina Moghadam Program in Iranian Studies, an Adjunct Professor, and co-director of the Iran Democracy Project and a research fellow at the Hoover Institution. His expertise is U.S.-Iran relations as well as Iranian cultural, political, and security issues. Milani is the author of Modernity and Its Foes in Iran (Gardon Press, 1998); The Persian Sphinx: Amir Abbas Hoveyda and the Riddle of the Iranian Revolution (Mage, 2000); Lost Wisdom: Rethinking Persian Modernity in Iran in English (Mage 2004) and Persian (Ketob Corp. 2004); Tales of Two Cities: A Persian Memoir (Mage, 2006); The Myth of the Great Satan (Hoover Institution Press, 2010); The Shah (Palgrave MacMillan, 2011), his own Persian version of the book has also been published inside and outside Iran. Culture and Politics in Contemporary Iran (Lynne Rienner, 2015) was co-edited with Larry Diamond. Most recently, Milani edited and wrote the introduction for A Window into Modern Iran: The Ardeshir Zahedi Papers at the Hoover Institution Library & Archives (Hoover Institution Press, 2019), and Saadi and Humanism (Zemestan, Tehran, 2019) with Maryam Mirzadeh. Milani has also translated numerous books and articles into Persian and English. He has published more than 200 essays and book reviews in journals and papers.
*Event is in English. Dr. Zandian's presentation will be in Farsi with an accompanying English translation.
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