As one of the few American correspondents allowed to work continuously in Iran since 1999, Azadeh Moaveni has reported widely on women's rights, Islamic reform and youth culture. She discusses her personal experiences living and working in Iran, including how, after facing the threat of arrest, she fled the country to protect her family's safety.
Professor Gerami joined the Social Science faculty as the Coordinator of Women's Studies in Fall of 2006. She brings to the program years of experience in global feminist activism, critical gender research, and a passion for teaching.
Professor Gerami holds a law degree from the University of Tehran and practiced law in Iran prior to the Islamic revolution. She earned a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Oklahoma in 1983, and most recently taught at Missouri State University at Springfield and coordinated the Gender Studies' program there. She has won various teaching and research awards, and has been active in many local and international organizations.
Azadeh Moaveni grew up in California, her parents having left Iran in 1976, three years before the Islamic revolution. The unresolved tension she felt between her cultural identity as an Iranian and an American led her to go to Iran as a journalist.
For two years she wrote about Iran for Time, finding a complex and varied reality. Her stay was bracketed by the pro-democracy student demonstrations of 1999 and President Bush's "axis of evil" speech in 2001, after which the government clamped down hard on dissent and on journalists. She was compelled to leave in fear for her safety.
Her book Lipstick Jihad: A Memoir of Growing up Iranian in America and American in Iran is the account of Moaveni's time in Iran, and of her quest to better understand her cultural identity.
Iranian-American journalist Azadeh Moaveni discusses Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's unlikely rise to power in Iran, running a campaign built on change. Promising a higher standard of living for the common person, Ahmadinejad appealed to younger Iranians, says Moaveni.
Country, Middle East, southwestern Asia. Area: 636,374 sq mi (1,648,200 sq km). Population (2009 est.): 74,196,000. Capital: Tehran. Persians constitute the largest ethnic group; other ethnic groups include Azerbaijanians, Kurds, Lurs, Bakhtyari, and Baloch. Languages: Persian (Farsi; official), numerous others. Religions: Islam (official; predominantly Shi'ite); also Zoroastrianism. Currency: rial. Iran occupies a high plateau, rising higher than 1,500 feet (460 metres) above sea level, and is surrounded largely by mountains. More than half of its surface area consists of salt deserts and other wasteland. About one-tenth of its land is arable, and another one-fourth is suitable for grazing. Iran's rich petroleum reserves account for about one-tenth of world reserves and are the basis of its economy. It is a unitary Islamic republic with one legislative house and several oversight bodies dominated by clergy. The head of state and government is the president, but supreme authority rests with the rahbar (leader), a ranking cleric. Human habitation in Iran dates to some 100,000 years ago, but recorded history began with the Elamites c. 3000 BCE. The Medes flourished from c. 728 but were overthrown in 550 by the Persians, who were in turn conquered by Alexander the Great in the 4th century BCE. The Parthians (seeParthia) created an empire that lasted from 247 BCE to 226 CE, when control passed to the Sasanian dynasty. Various Muslim dynasties ruled from the 7th century. In 1501 the Safavid dynasty was established and lasted until 1736. The Qajar dynasty ruled from 1796, but in the 19th century the country was economically controlled by the Russian and British empires. Reza Khan (seeReza Shah Pahlavi) seized power in a coup (1921). His son Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi alienated religious leaders with a program of modernization and Westernization and was overthrown in 1979; Shi'ite cleric Ruhollah Khomeini then set up an Islamic republic, and Western influence was suppressed. The destructive Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s ended in a stalemate. Since the 1990s the government has gradually moved to a more liberal conduct of state affairs.
Azadeh, thank you for your views, it was very informative. IMHO, I believe as you stated the reason the journey for freedom by Iran people looks unusual and different may be because their freedom did not contain the baggage that we had in our journey to freedom. If we go back and look at our American history, we find that we continuously began from the wrong side of "freedom" and we had to sort of play catch up to our own constitution and beliefs in our version of Democracy. I'm referring mainly to slavery, civil war, 60's segregation, minority rights, racism, nuclear issues, several time capitalism at brink of failure. Now, if we can imagine taking all the above baggage out of our history and try to restart Democracy what decision and how different our journey to freedom would really be? Would we feel so strongly about certain issues in our society and would it not make our freedom much different, if our baggage was not as we know it and as we are thought in our schools? I believe the journey to freedom and democracy by iranian people is one of absolute innocence and as such their experience of freedom would be much different than ours and our reference to their democracy would be one of strangely misunderstood at best. I believe given time as we had plenty of it, Iranians and their democracy of innocence would be one that is very beneficial to the world community.