Roshan Institute Fellow for Excellence in Persian Studies
Safoura Nourbakhsh was born and raised in Iran, Tehran. After receiving her BA and MA in English Literature from San Francisco State University, she returned to Iran in 1992 and taught English literature courses at Allameh University from 1997-2003. Her interest in feminist theory and women’s right also prompted her involvement with Zanan magazine as a writer and an occasional consultant. Her Persian translation of Virginia Woolf’s A Room of It’s Own (2004, Niloofar Publishing) is the first published translation of the book.Safoura started her PhD degree in women’s studies at University of Maryland in the Fall of 2005. While working on her PhD she also became the managing editor of Sufi (a biannual journal of mystical philosophy and practice). Later she helped plan design, and execute Zannegaar (an online journal of women’s studies) and acted as it’s project manager and editor for the first four issues. Safoura taught “Iranian women writers in Translation” at the University of Maryland. Safoura is the recipient of the first Roshan Institute Fellowship for Excellence in Persian Studies. Safoura is currently working on her dissertation “Gender and Sexuality in Persian expressions of Sufism.” The following chapters of her dissertation are in progress: an ethnography of women in the Nimatullahi Sufi order, Women in the Persian biographies of Sufi Saints (from Hujwiri to Attar), women as representations of ego (nafs) and male desire in Sufi literature (Rumi and Attar), the gender of love in Sufi literature (Ghazali).
Born in Pakistan and raised in the United States, Sara received her MAIS in Women and Gender Studies with a focus in Sufism from George Mason University in 2012. Her master’s thesis – “Beyond Binary Barzakhs: Using the Theme of Liminality in Islamic Thought to Question the Gender Binary” – reflects on the works of Ibn Arabi, Rumi, and Bulleh Shah, presenting a fresh perspective on the experiences of those who identify as hijras or “third genders” in South Asia. Sara is currently a doctoral student at the University of Maryland’s Women’s Studies PhD program, continuing her focus on Sufism which explains her connection to Persian Studies and her interest in learning the language. She has years of professional experience working for international NGOs including United Nations platform committees.
Abbas Jamshidi was born and raised in Shiraz, Iran. He has a Master’s Degree from Shiraz University in English Language and Literature and has taught English literature at Azad University. As a doctoral student at the University of Maryland’s Comparative Literature Program he has benefited from Dr. Ahmad Karimi-Hakkak’s expertise in modern Persian literature and is writing his PhD dissertation under the supervision of Dr. Karimi-Hakkak and Dr. Brian Richardson (English Department). In his dissertation he examines anti-Arab representation in Persian (with a focus on Sadeq Hedayat) and English literature (with a focus on Salman Rushdie). He focuses on the genealogy of anti-Arab representation in these literatures; racialization of Arabs as distinct from and inferior to the Persians/Indians/British; and how novel forms of representation continue to be crafted in the two literary traditions to demean and denigrate the Arabs. In a recent year-long trip to India, he explored the role of India, specifically its local Parsi (Zoroastrian) community, in the production of anti-Arab discourse over time. Jamshidi will contribute to Professor Karimi-Hakkak’s festschrift (forthcoming 2014) with an article tentatively titled: “Lizard as Arab Food: Anti-Arab Sentiment and the Shāhnāmeh Scholarship.”