A professor of history and women’s studies at Harvard University, Iranian-born Afsaneh Najmabadi first came to Radcliffe College from Tehran University in 1966. Although she earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in physics at Radcliffe and Harvard, Najmabadi opted to pursue social studies, combining academic interests with her engagement in social activism, first in the United States and then in Iran. She has written several books, most recently The Story of Daughters of Quchan: Gender and National Memory in Iranian History (Syracuse University Press, 1998), and has written and edited books in Persian.
During her fellowship, Najmabadi will prepare the manuscript for “Male Lions and Female Suns: The Gendered Tropes of Iranian Modernity,” a study of cultural transformations in nineteenth-century Iran concentrating on reconfigurations of gender and sexuality. The book will center on how notions of gender informed Iranian modernity and how symbolics of modernity recrafted womanhood and manhood and produced masqueraded sexualities. Najmabadi will also begin work on a new project, “Genealogies of Iranian Feminism.”
After nine years with Barnard College’s women’s studies department, Najmabadi joined Harvard University’s faculty in July 2001. She has also held fellowships at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University, Harvard Divinity School, the Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women at Brown University, and the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard. She earned a PhD in sociology at the University of Manchester.