Slavery in the Middle East & North Africa…

UC Slavery me

Speaking on slavery at UCSB

I was honored for the opportunity to speak about slavery and sexual labor in Zanzibar and Oman at the Fourth Annual Conference of the University of California Santa Barbara Iranian Studies Initiative entitled Slavery and Sexual Labor in the Middle East and North Africa.



It was great to be reunited on my panel with Professor Staci Scheiwiller, as we once lived together in Tajikistan on a Critical Language Scholarship to study Persian and Tajiki–fond memories!


Reuniting with Staci

It was also a pleasure to meet Dr. Mehrdad Amanat, author of Jewish Identities in Iran: Resistance and Conversion to Islam and the Baha’i Faith–whose brother Professor Abbas Amanat is my colleague at Yale (and whose new book on Iran you must read!).


Dr. Mehrdad Amanat

I was delighted to meet Professor Behnaz A. Mirzai whose work on slavery in Iran and films on Afro-Iranians I greatly admire (and I’ve included them in an upcoming publication).

Behnaz 1

Conferencing with Behnaz Mirzai

I was very grateful to Professor Janet Afary, Mellichamp Chair in Global Religion & Modernity & author of Sexual Politics in Modern Iran, for bringing us all together for such a visionary and bold conference. Also such a treat to meet Professor Eileen Boris, Hull Professor of Feminist Studies at UCSB.


Drs. Afary, Boris, Mirzai & O’Dell

Best of all, we ended the conference in fine Persian style–with Persian dance, music, and poetry–the perfect conclusion to a stellar conference.

Persian dancer

Persian music and dance

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