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Hamid Naficy Encomium Participants

Like Water Through Stone: Celebrating Hamid Naficy’s Contributions to Iranian Film and Diaspora Studies

Thursday June 2 — Friday June 3, 2002

Northwestern University

Conference Program 


Narges Bajoghli is Assistant Professor of Middle East Studies at Johns Hopkins University, School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), where she is co-director of the Rethinking Iran Initiative. She is an award-winning anthropologist, scholar, and writer. Trained as a political anthropologist, media anthropologist, and documentary filmmaker, her academic research is at the intersections of media and power in Iran and the United States. Her first project focused on regime cultural producers in Iran, and was based on ethnographic research with Basij, Ansar-e Hezbollah, and Revolutionary Guard media producers. The resulting book, Iran Reframed: Anxieties of Power in the Islamic Republic (2019), was awarded the 2020 Margaret Mead Award (American Anthropological Association & Society for Applied Anthropology); 2020 Choice Award for Outstanding Academic Title (American Library Association); and the 2021 Silver Medal in Independent Publisher Book Awards for Current Events (Political/Economic, Foreign Affairs). 

Simran Bhalla is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Communication and Film Studies at Tulane University. She received her PhD in Screen Cultures from Northwestern University in 2021. Her research interests include useful cinema, global modernisms, and architecture and design in postcolonial film and television. She has published in Iran Namag and the Journal of Cinema and Media Studies. At Northwestern, Bhalla held graduate fellowships at the Buffett Institute for Global Affairs and The Block Museum of Art, where she was a curator for film series including “Morning Will Come: Modernity in Indian Cinema” and “Liberating History: Arab Feminisms and Mediated Pasts.” Bhalla will join the University of Southern California as a Postdoctoral Fellow in Cinema and Media Studies this fall.

Maziyar Faridi is Assistant Professor of English and World Cinema at Clemson University. His research engages broadly with questions of identity politics and sovereignty in modernist media and literature, semiotics and psychoanalysis, and critical theory from the Global South. Maziyar’s current book project, titled “Rhythms of Relation: Decolonizing Identity in Iranian Modernism (1922-1979),” foregrounds an understudied corpus of Iranian literary and cinematic texts to argue for a poetics that resists both colonial modernity and anticolonial recourse to identitarianism. His research has been recognized by several awards, including the Charles Bernheimer Prize for the best dissertation from the American Comparative Literature Association.

Michael M. J. Fischer is Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities and Professor of Anthropology and Science and Technology Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). His many books include Iran: From Religious Dispute to Revolution (1980, 2nd Edition 2003), Anthropology as Cultural Critique (1986, 2nd Edition 1999), Emergent Forms of Life and the Anthropological Voice (2003), Mute Dreams, Blind Owls, and Dispersed Knowledges: Persian Poesis in the Transnational Circuitry (2004), Anthropological Futures (2009), and Anthropology in the Meantime: Experimental Ethnography, Theory, and Method for the Twenty-First Century (2018). He served as Director of MIT’s Program in Science, Technology and Society, and earlier as the Director of Cultural Studies at Rice University, where he hired Hamid Naficy first as a Rockefeller Fellow and then helped hire him as a faculty member. He did fieldwork in Iran from 1971-73, and 1975, and has been an interested consumer of films and scholarship on Iran, from the first North American Film Festival, organized by Hamid Naficy at UCLA.

Persis Karim holds the Neda Nobari Chair and directs the Center for Iranian Diaspora Studies at San Francisco State University and teaches in the Department of Comparative and World Literature. She is the editor of three anthologies of Iranian diaspora literature: Tremors: New Fiction by Iranian-American Writers (2013), Let Me Tell You Where I've Been: New Writing by Women of the Iranian Diaspora (2006), and A World Between: Poems, Stories and Essays by Iranian-Americans (1999). She is the author of numerous articles on Iranian diaspora literature and culture and served as guest editor for Iranian Studies, MELUS: Multi-Ethnic Literatures of the United States, and Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

Amy Malek is a sociocultural anthropologist specializing in the intersections of migration, citizenship, and culture in the Iranian diaspora. In Fall 2022, she will become the inaugural Director of Iran and Persian Gulf Studies and Assistant Professor of Global Studies at Oklahoma State University. Prior to this, she was Assistant Professor of International Studies at the College of Charleston and completed a two-year postdoctoral position at the Sharmin & Bijan Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Iran and Persian Gulf Studies at Princeton University. Her research and teaching interests include migration studies, diaspora and transnationalism, memory, and visual culture, with an emphasis on Iranian and Middle Eastern communities in North America and Europe. Her current book project is a transnational ethnography of the impacts of cultural policies on diasporic Iranian communities in Sweden, Canada, and the United States.

Negar Mottahedeh teaches media studies in the Program in Literature at Duke University. Her research focuses on film, social media, and social movements in the Middle East. She is the author of Representing the Unpresentable: Historical Images of National Reform from the Qajars to the Islamic Republic of Iran (2007), which won the Latifeh Yarshater Award from the Persian Heritage Foundation, Displaced Allegories: Post-Revolutionary Iranian Cinema (2008), #iranelection: Hashtag Solidarity and the Transformation of Online Life (2015), and Whisper Tapes: Kate Millett in Iran (2019), and the editor of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá's Journey West: The Course of Human Solidarity (2013). Her work has been published in Camera Obscura, Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, The Drama Review, Iranian Studies, Middle East Report (MERIP), The Observer, The Hill, Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, Salon, and WIRED.

Eric Patrick is Associate Professor in the Department of Radio/Television/Film at Northwestern University. With over twenty-five years of experience in the entertainment industry, his commercial animation and independent experimental works have received a Peabody Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, over 100 grants, fellowships, and awards at international film festivals, and several Emmy nominations. His additional work in information design has received grants from the National Institute of Health (Reproductive Health) and the Chicago Digital Media Production Fund (Citizen Primer). He has screened extensively both domestically and internationally at festivals, museums and on television, including screenings at the Rotterdam Film Festival, The Museum of Modern Art, the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, and the South by Southwest Film Festival. He was an animator for the seminal Nickelodeon program Blues Clues, and has written several articles about independent animation.

Golbarg Rekabtalaei is Assistant Professor of History and Co-Director of the Middle Eastern Studies Program at Seton Hall University. She is a cultural and social historian of modern Iran and the modern Middle East at large. Her research focuses on the relationships between culture and cultural production, modernity, cosmopolitanism, urbanization, nationalism, and revolutions. More specifically, she is interested in the role of cinema, in concrete form and onscreen, in facilitating cosmopolitan imaginations and hybrid subjectivities in early twentieth-century Iran. Her book, Iranian Cosmopolitanism: A Cinematic History, was published in the Cambridge University Press series the Global Middle East in 2019.

Mehdi Semati is Professor and Chair of the Department of Communication at Northern Illinois University. His research and teaching address communication and media studies, and Iranian media and culture. He is co-author of Iran in the American Media (2021). His edited volumes include Media, Culture and Society in Iran: Living with Globalization and the Islamic State (2008) and New Frontiers in International Communication Theory (2004). His research has been published Cultural Studies, Communication, Culture & Critique, Iran Namag, Sociology of Islam, Critical Studies in Media Communication, the Journal of International Communication, Communication Studies, Popular Communication, the Journal of Popular Film and Television, Popular Music and Society, and Television & New Media.

Mohamad Tavakoli is the Inaugural Director of the Elahé Omidyar Mir-Djalali Institute of Iranian Studies at the University of Toronto. He was the founding Chair of the Department of Historical Studies at the University of Toronto-Mississauga (2004-07) and served as President of the International Society for Iranian Studies (2008-10). He was Editor-in-Chief of the journal Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East (2001-2012) and Editor of Iran Nameh (2011-2015). He is currently Editor-in-Chief of Iran Namag, a bilingual quarterly of Iranian Studies, and is co-editor of the book series Iranian Studies published by Routledge. In addition to three edited books, he is the author of Refashioning Iran: Orientalism, Occidentalism and Historiography (2001) and Tajaddud-i Bumi [Vernacular Modernity] (in Persian, 2003 and 2017). He is currently completing a manuscript that explores the discursive transformation of modern Persian political language from biopolitics to spatial governance.



Dilip Gaonkar is Professor in Rhetoric and Public Culture and Director of the Center for Global Culture and Communication at Northwestern University, and Director of the Center for Transcultural Studies. He served as Executive Editor (2000-2009) and as Editor (2009-2011) of the journal Public Culture. He is co-author (with Craig Calhoun and Charles Taylor) of Degenerations of Democracy (2022) and editor or co-editor of the books Globalizing American Studies (2010), Alternative Modernities (2001), and Disciplinarity and Dissent in Cultural Studies (1995). He is currently writing a book on modernity, democracy, and the politics of disorder.

Ariel Rogers is Associate Professor in the Department of Radio/Television/Film and Director of Graduate Studies for the Screen Cultures Program at Northwestern University. Her research and teaching address the history and theory of cinema and related media, with a focus on movie technologies, new media, and spectatorship. She is the author of Cinematic Appeals: The Experience of New Movie Technologies (2013) and On the Screen: Displaying the Moving Image, 1926-1942 (2019). Her work on topics such as widescreen cinema, digital cinema, special effects, screen technologies, and virtual reality has also appeared in edited collections and journals including Cinema Journal, Film History, montage AV, and Screen.

Narimon Safavi is the CEO of Generative Multilogue, which promotes empathy-oriented creativity. Its first project, presented at the International Exposition of Contemporary & Modern Art (EXPO CHICAGO), was a taboo-breaking cultural diplomacy exhibition featuring women artists from Afghanistan, Iran, Israel, Palestine, and Turkey. He was a contributor to the late Chicago Public Radio program Worldview. His weekly “Weekend Passport” segment explored global cultural happenings in Chicago. He is a co-founder of Pasfarda Arts & Cultural Exchange, an organization dedicated to supporting Iranian art in the U.S. and American art in Iran. He has served as a board member of the Gene Siskel Film Center and the Annual Festival of Films from Iran. 

Lynn Spigel is Frances Willard Professor of Screen Cultures in the Department of Radio/Television/Film at Northwestern University. She is the author of Make Room for TV: Television and the Family Ideal in Postwar America (1992), Welcome to the Dreamhouse: Popular Media and Postwar Suburbs (2001), TV by Design: Modern Art and the Rise of Network Television (2009); and has edited numerous volumes including Television after TV: Essays on a Medium in Transition (2005). She edits the Console-ing Passion and Spin-Offs book series published by Duke University Press. She writes and teaches about the cultural history of film, television, and digital media, with a focus on gender, technology, and media’s relation to everyday life.

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