I am a child of former refugee settlers of Azeri and Iranian/Persian descent, who arrived on Turtle Island in order to avoid harsh injustices for their future children. Unlike my mother and father, I was born in a nation where I have the privilege and right to access higher education. My parents' religious identities as Bahá’ís living in Iran—the largest religious minority group in the country—was the government’s justification for their persecution, including their barred access to all higher education institutions nationwide. My parents' experiences, along with countless others who were (and still are) denied such an opportunity in Iran and globally, heightened my awareness of and commitment to the need for social change in the U.S. academy and greater society, especially plans for my own education to advance justice. My mother was raised to believe the social norms of her gender superseded the nurturing of her intellectual capacity. It took my father eight years to complete his bachelor’s degree, because he was only legally permitted to attend college in the evenings, segregated from his peers who identified with other religious affiliations. The sacrifices of my parents made me privy to pursuing formal educational degrees they were systematically denied access to. Being a first-generation U.S. "American" and the only member of my family with a doctoral degree, therefore, has been humbling for me in more ways than one. This is the context that frames my narrative.
Currently, I am an assistant professor of Education Studies at DePauw University on the traditional and unceded lands of the Kiikaapoi (Kickapoo) and Miami Nations (Greencastle, Indiana) and a research associate at the Chair for Critical Studies in Higher Education Transformation (CriSHET) at Nelson Mandela University on the traditional lands of the Khokhoi, San, and later AmaXhosa (Port Elizabeth, South Africa). I study comparative higher education and knowledge systems, human rights, media, science and technology, and activism/social movements through an integration of critical justice-oriented frames globally and transnationally. I have a Ph.D. in International Education Policy from the University of Maryland, College Park. My dissertation can be accessed here. But like many academic citizens, my heart and mind have evolved since then. Some work that is currently in progress and/or forthcoming can be found on the "Research" page of this site or on my CV.
Living and working in one of the most linguistically, racially, and religiously segregated parts of South Africa, I have been exposed to diverse opportunities to translate my research and teaching into practice. Experiencing, observing, and studying disenfranchisement in several parts of the globe have likewise helped me better integrate critical and “Global South” scholarship into traditionally “Western”- dominated disciplines, traditions, and methodologies in my research projects and courses I teach. My work in these areas have further expanded my understanding of how learned discrimination, prejudices, and other forms of injustice (in their various forms) migrate between and across countries.
As part of my global critical ethnic and race studies work, I also conducted investigative research for an Independent Expert on the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) (who previously served as the first Independent Expert on Minority Issues). In addition, I consulted for Minority Rights Group International (MRG), an international non-governmental organization that has consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and observer status with the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR). Formerly, I also helped manage a research project on health-related disparities, including an affordable hearing-aid program for DC residents from low-income households at the George Washington University (GW) Medical Faculty Associates (MFA).