“Sexing Gender, Transing Homos: Travail of Sexuality in Contemporary Iran,” A Lecture by Afsaneh Najmabadi on March 23rd

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Sexing Gender, Transing Homos:Travail of Sexuality in Contemporary Iran, A lecture with Afsaneh Najmabadi
Thursday, 23 March, 7:00 PM
Sulzberger Parlor, 3rd Floor Barnard Hall

Free & open to the public; no reservations required.

“On Thursday, 23 March, in honor of Women’s History Month, the Center is particularly proud to highlight the work of historian and gender theorist Afsaneh Najmabadi, whom we were lucky to consider our colleague during the nine years she taught in Barnard’s Department of Women’s Studies. Now at Harvard, Professor Najmabadi’s most current research is a cutting-edge study of the ways in which concepts and practices of sex and sexuality have transformed from the late-nineteenth-century to the present day Iran.

“Responding to a number of international media news stories that report not only an increased recognition of transsexuality in contemporary Iranian culture, but also an apparent society-wide permissiveness that encourages sex-change operations, Professor Najmabadi invites us to question whether this trend truly empowers transsexuals or, instead, reaffirms and narrows various social codes – from the psychological to the medical to the legal – that allow any kind of sexual and gender non-conformity to be labeled deviant, to be criminalized. In such system, argues Professor Najmabadi, same-sex desire becomes “unreadable except for people stuck in the ‘wrong bodies'; it makes homosexuality as such illegible and illegitimate not only as a publicly recognized possibility, but also for one’s own self-perception.” Her lecture promises to make for a uniquely thought-provoking evening, one you certainly won’t want to miss.

“Afsaneh Najmabadi is Professor of History and of Studies of Women, Gender and Sexuality at Harvard University. Her most recent book, Women with Mustaches and Men without Beards: Gender and Sexual Anxieties of Iranian Modernity, is a study of cultural transformations in 19th-century Iran centered on reconfigurations of gender and sexuality, and is the winner of the 2005 Joan Kelly Memorial Prize, awarded by the American Historical Association. Professor Najmabadi’s previous publications in English include The Story of Daughters of Quchan: Gender and National Memory in Iranian History and Women Autobiographies in Contemporary Iran (editor and contributor). She has been a fellow at Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard Divinity School’s Women’s Studies in Religion Program, the Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women at Brown University, and Harvard’s Nemazee Fellow at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard University.”

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