Janet Afary

Mellichamp Chair of Religion and Modernity
Professor of Religious Studies
UC Santa Barbara

About Janet Afary

Janet Afary holds the Mellichamp Chair in Global Religion & Modernity at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she is a Professor of Religious Studies. She is a historian of modern Iran with a PhD in History and Near East Studies from the University of Michigan, where her dissertation received the Distinguished Rackham Dissertation Award. Previously she taught at the Department of History and the Program in Women’s Studies at Purdue University, where she was appointed a University Faculty Scholar.

Her books include: Sexual Politics in Modern Iran (Cambridge University Press, 2009, winner of the British Society for Middle East Studies Annual Book Prize); The Iranian Constitutional Revolution: Grassroots Democracy, Social Democracy, and the Origins of Feminism (Columbia University Press, 1996, winner of Dehkhoda Institute Book Award); 

(with Kevin B. Anderson) Foucault and the Iranian Revolution: Gender and the Seductions of Islamism (University of Chicago Press, 2005, winner of the Latifeh Yarshater Book Award for Iranian Women’s Studies); and (with John R. Perry) Charand-o Parand: Revolutionary Satire in Iran (Yale University Press, 2016), Honorable Mention Lois Roth Persian Translation Prize.

Janet Afary has received yearlong fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS). She was a Keddie-Balzan Fellow in Iranian History at UCLA. She has served as president of the Association for Iranian Studies (previously ISIS-MESA), the Association for Middle East Women’s Studies (AMEWS-MESA), and the Coordinating Council for Women in History of the American Historical Association (CCWH-AHA). Her articles have appeared in The NationThe GuardianHuffington Post, and numerous other scholarly journals and edited collections.

Foucault and the Iranian Revolution

In 1978, as the protests against the Shah of Iran reached their zenith, philosopher Michel Foucault was working as a special correspondent for Corriere della Sera and le Nouvel Observateur. During his little-known stint as a journalist, Foucault traveled…

Sexual Politics in Modern Iran

Sexual Politics in Modern Iran focuses on gender and sexuality and draws on her experience of growing up in Iran and her involvement with Iranian women of different ages and social strata.

Charand-o Parand: Revolutionary Satire from Iran, 1907-1909

Originally a series of newspaper columns written by scholar and satirist Ali-Akbar Dehkhoda, the pieces poke fun at mullahs, the shah, and the old religious and political order during the Constitutional Revolution in Iran (1906–11).