Dr Meftahi Receives The Prestigious Latifeh Yarshater Award!

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Gender and Dance in Modern Iran: Biopolitics on Stage

The Latifeh Yarshater Award was instituted by the Persian Heritage Foundation to honor the memory of Latifeh Yarshater and her lifelong dedication to the improvement of Iranian women's human rights. The purpose of the award is to encourage scholarship in Iranian Studies focused on the condition of women in Persian speaking societies and to promote women's rights in these societies.


The Latifeh Yarshater Award was awarded at the 2018 Biennial Conference, University of California, Irvine to Dr. Ida Meftahi, Lecturer in contemporary Iranian culture and society at the Roshan Institute for Persian Studies, University of Maryland, for her book Gender and Dance in Modern Iran: Biopolitics on Stage (2016, Hardback), Routledge. The committee praised the book’s originality in situating dance at the centre of the nationalist and Islamist cultural and political contestations of the 20th century, offering an absorbing account of the transformation of cabaret dancing into “national dance” and the sublimation of the latter into Islamic counter-dance or “rhythmic movement.” Based on original Persian sources, Dr Meftahi historicizes the offstage politico-ideological narratives of dancing women in competing nationalist, leftist, and Islamist discourses. Exploring the public emergence of the “rhythmic movement” in the 1990s, which sought to endow dance with Islamic modesty and chastity, she demonstrates how this Islamizing project successfully sublimated an earlier nationalist conception of dance. Despite politically charged presumptions of dance as moral decadence, in the decade after the Islamic Revolution, dance has emerged as an integral part of social life in Iran. The Committee also recognized Professor Nima Naghibi's book, Women Write Iran: Nostalgia and Human Rights from the Diaspora (2016), University of Minnesota Press, as the Honorable Mention.