NES Welcomes New Faculty Members

August 23, 2018

The Department of Near Eastern Studies welcomes two new faculty members Seema Golestaneh and Parisa Vaziri. Dr. Golestaneh is an assistant professor in the Department of Near Eastern Studies and Dr. Vaziri shares an assistant professorship between Comparative Literature and Near Eastern Studies. They are both teaching new courses in the Fall 2018 semester (see course descriptions below).

Seema Golestaneh received her Ph.D. in Socio-Cultural Anthropology from Columbia University in 2014. Her research analyzes experiences of the metaphysical in post-revolutionary Iran and engages with discourses of knowledge production, systems of governance, anthropologies of the imagination, literary cultures and the intersections of aesthetics and anthropology.

""Parisa Vaziri received her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from U.C. Irvine in 2018. Her work engages legacies of Indian Ocean world slavery in the long durée through prisms of visual media. Her research overlaps interests in critical theory, black studies, Middle Eastern cultural production, postcolonial critiques of history, film theory, new media, philosophy, anthropology, and histories of displinary formation more generally.

NEW COURSES Fall 2018:

Anthropology of Iran  

Seema Golestaneh

NES 2515/RELST 2515/ATHR 2415; 3 credits; TR 10:10-11:25

This course explores the major debates that define the study of contemporary Iran. Drawing from ethnographic works, literary criticism, intellectual histories and more, we will examine historical events and cultural developments from a diverse set of theoretical approaches. Topics include the Iranian revolution in comparative perspective, the Iran-Iraq war and its continued legacy, media forms and practice, contemporary film and literature, women’s movements, youth culture, religious diversity, legal systems, techniques of governance, and more. Of particular interest will be the intersections of religion and secularism in Iranian society. Ultimately, it is the objective of the course to explore the diverse cultural, political, and material worlds that shape collective life and individual subjectivity in Iran today.

Shi'ism: Debates and Discourses     

Seema Golestaneh

NES 4537/ANTHR 4637/RELST 4537 and NES 6537/ANTHR 7637/RELST 6537; 4 credits; T 2:30-4:25

This course offers a broad survey of contemporary Shi’i beliefs, practices, and politics with a focus on Twelver or Imami Shi’ism. Through a close examination of ethnographies, intellectual and political histories, theological writings, and more we will investigate the themes which define the politics and cultural practices of contemporary Shi’ism. In particular, we will highlight the ways in which Shi’is utilize their theological beliefs to negotiate and respond to the socio-political context of the times in which they live.  The course begins by examining the early days of what would later be called “Shi’ism.” We then examine the key theological concepts which distinguish Shi’ism from Sunnism, including themes of adalat (divine justice), shahadat (martyrdom), the Karbala paradigm, and the role of the imamate and clerical class. The rest of course is devoted to investigating the ways that Shi’ism informs and interacts with the social realm and vice versa, ranging from negotiations of the everyday to responding to moments of great civil and society unrest and to that which is called “sectarianism”. Travelling from South Asia to the Middle East, from Africa to America, we will ultimately examine how Shi’i beliefs and identity act as a dynamic force for shaping the worlds in which they live today.

FWS: Slow Time: Chronopolitics of Iranian Cinema

Parisa Vizari

NES 1918; 3 credits; MWF 11:15-12:05                                                                   

“Slowness” in films often registers as seriousness or analytic depth. In contrast to the fast-paced action film or the plot-driven melodrama, slow films are characterized by drawn-out scenes where little or nothing happens, signaling an unplaceable philosophical quality alternatively perceived as compelling and reflexive or torturous and painstakingly pretentious. Through writing practices that stress rhetorical analysis and close reading of film, students probe beyond surface assessments to inquire into the politics of time—or chronopolitics—of Iranian cinema. We will engage works by Abbas Kiarostami, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Sohrab Shahid-Saless, and others. How do arrangements of film temporality articulate questions about experience, historicity and politics in, and also beyond, the context of Iran and the Middle East?

Seema Golestaneh