Janet Afary holds the Mellichamp Chair in Global Religion and Modernity at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she is a Professor of Religious Studies and Feminist Studies. Previously she taught 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); (with Kevin 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); (with John R Perry) Charand-o Parand: Revolutionary Satire from Iran, 1907-1909 (Yale University Press, 2016), and The Iranian Constitutional Revolution: Grassroots Democracy, Social Democracy, and the Origins of Feminism (Columbia University Press, 1996, winner of Dehkhoda Institute Book Award.

Afary has received yearlong fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), and was a Keddie-Balzan Fellow in Iranian History at the Department of History, UCLA (2008-09). She also served as president of the International Society for Iranian Studies (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 Nation, the Guardian, Huffington Post, and numerous scholarly journals and edited collections.


  • 1991: Ph.D. in History and Near East Studies, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Dissertation Chairs: Ronald G. Suny (History) and Allin Luther (Near East Studies). The recipient of the Horace H. Rackham Distinguished Dissertation Award and the Foundation for Iranian Studies’ Best Dissertation Award.

Research Interest

  • History of Iran-19th & 20th centuries
  • Religion, Politics, and Society in the Middle East
  • Gender and Sexuality in the Middle East
  • Constitutionalism, Civil Liberties, and the Public Sphere in the Middle East
  • Cinema and Popular Culture of the Middle East
  • Global Feminism
  • Feminist Theory
  • Modern Transcaucasia & Central Asia: Art & Folklore


  • 2010: British Society for Middle East Studies book award (British-Kuwait Friendship Society Prize for the best scholarly work in English on the Middle East published in the UK).
  • 2009: Keddie-Balzan Fellow, UCLA Department of History.
  • 2006: Latifeh Yarshater Award for Best Book in Iranian Women’s Studies for Foucault and the Iranian Revolution (2005) from the Persian Heritage Foundation.
  • 2006: Dehkhoda Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Iranian Studies (Germany).
  • 2006: University Faculty Scholar Purdue University. Award and 5-year Stipend.
  • 2006: President, International Society for Iranian Studies (term 2004-2006).
  • 2005: President, Association for Middle East Women’s Studies (term 2004-2005).
  • 2003 : President, Coordinating Council for Women in History (CCWH-AHA, term 2001-2003).