The Hammed Shahidian Graduate Award in Women's Studies

The Hammed Shahidian Lecture Series in Women's Studies

The Women and Gender Studies Institute is the recipient of the Hammed Shahidian Legacy Initiative Fund.  This generous endowment is dedicated to both a Graduate Award and a Lecture Series in women and gender studies. The Lecture series will attract some of the world's finest critical feminist scholars and provide a platform for graduate students to engage in debates and discussions on themes that are particularly relevant to the current condition of women internationally.

The untimely death of Professor Hammed Shahidian in October 2005 left the feminist studies and Iranian studies scholarly communities with a huge void.  He was a brilliant intellectual with a profound commitment to social justice.  His scholarship consists of a diverse body of critical literature on social movements, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, exile, immigration and diaspora.  He contributed to debates in all of these areas in North America, Europe and the Middle East.

Professor Hammed Shahidian’s books, Women in Iran: Gender Politics in the Islamic Republic (2002, Greenwood Publishing) and Women in Iran: Emerging Voices in the Women’s Movement (2002, Greenwood Publishing), are seminal contributions to the highly controversial debates on women in Muslim majority states; he documented and analysed the gender politics of the Islamic state of Iran and women’s resistance to theocratic regimes of patriarchy. In his first book, Gender Politics in the Islamic Republic, for example, he undertook a detailed study of institutions such as paid work, domestic labour, law, politics, sexuality, and culture in order to demonstrate the role of state coercion in the construction of gender relations. He demonstrated that despite women’s resistance and partial legal reform, the juridical-political order did not visibly change.  This study challenges some feminist theoretical claims, which overemphasize the flexibility of state generally, and the theocratic state, in particular.

In his second book, Emerging Voices in the Women’s Movement, Hammed embarked upon another significant theoretical challenge. While cultural relativism is a step forward in so far as it allows more diverse feminist theoretical perspectives and emphasizes the particularity of women’s lives, Hammed emphasized its limitations in accounting for patriarchal domination in non-Western, Muslim majority contexts.

Professor Shahidian’s feminist research has shaped critical approaches in women’s studies of the Middle East. The vast repertoire of his publications, research, lectures and conference presentations around the world on the topic of social movements, feminism, women and revolution, activism, and women’s experience of exile indicates his dedication to enhancing theoretical knowledge in these areas.  This is a body of committed research, which promotes that cause of gender equality and justice.  Some of his published articles in this area are first-hand and unique contributions to exilic life and the emerging field of diaspora studies.

Hammed had tireless energy for envisioning new areas of inquiry. As one of his last projects, he encouraged his colleagues to collaborate with him on an anthology of critical studies of secularism and democracy. This research was an effort to make visible an old, yet overlooked, trend in Iranian culture and politics.  He wanted to explore areas of political contestation in Iran waged by writers, youth, and human rights activists that have not yet received adequate research attention.  His proposed book project was the first on this subject and combined theoretical frameworks with personal narratives by secular activists in Iran.  This approach reflects Hammed’s emphasis on the study of social movements from below, an approach he took both in his published works and in developing another manuscript on the underground leftist movement in Iran.

Hammed Shahidian Biography
Hammed Shahidian

Hammed Shahidian left us at the age of 46, on October 1, 2005 after two difficult years of struggle with cancer.  He was an Associate Professor of Sociology and Chair of the Sociology and Anthropology Program at the University of Illinois at Springfield.  He also was Honorary Research Fellow at Glasgow University (2000-2001), a research affiliates at the Centre of the Study of Socialist Theory and Movements, and Visiting Scholar at the Centre for Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of British Columbia (2004)

He was one of the founding editors of Iran Bulletin – Middle East Forum, a member of the editorial board of Sexualities, and editor of Critique: Journal for Critical Studies of Iran and the Middle East.  In 2006, the Iranian Women’s Studies Foundation inaugurated the Hammed Shahidian Critical Feminist Paper Award.


English Publications


Sketches of a Friendship Sketches of a Friendship (Persian Translation) Women in Iran: Gender Politics in the Islamic Republic Women in Iran: Emerging Voices in the Women's Movement


  • Forthcoming, Sexuality in Islamic Culture, Encyclopaedia of Sociology
  • 2005, Women, Gender, and Revolutionary Movements: Iran and Afghanistan, Encyclopaedia of Women in Islamic Countries, 417-419
  • 2000, Gender Relations in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Encyclopaedia Iranica, vol. 10: 411-418


  • 2005, Contesting Discourses on Sexuality in Post-revolutionary Iran. In Deconstructing Sexuality in the Middle East and North Africa: Contemporary Issues and Discourses, edited by Pinar Ilkkaracan, Leiden: E.J. Brill.
  • 2005, "Our" Reflections in "Their" Mirror: Cultural Politics and the Representation of the Iranian Diaspora in the Islamic Republic. In The Making of the Islamic Diaspora, edited by Haideh Moghissi.
  • 2000, The Cultural Outlooks of the Iranian Women's Movement. In The Iranian Woman at
    the Threshold of the Year 2000
    (pp. 258-288), edited by Golnaz Amin. Cambridge, MA: Iranian Women's Studies Foundation


  • 2001, "To Be Recorded in History": Researching Iranian Underground Activists in Exile, Qualitative Sociology 24(2): 55-81
  • 2000, Sociology and Exile: Banishment and Tensional Loyalties, Current Sociology 48(2): 81-106
  • 1999, Gender and Sexuality among Iranian Immigrants in Canada, Sexualities 2(2):189-223
  • 1999, Saving the Savior, Sociological Inquiry 69(2): 303-327
  • 1999, Islam's "Others": Living Out(side) Islam, ISIM Newsletter 3 (July): 5
  • 1998, Political Activism, Feminism, and Exile, Journal of Iranian Research and Analysis 14(1): 7-11
  • 1998, "Islamic Feminism" Encounters "Western Feminism": An Indigenous Alternative? In Globalization, Gender, and Pedagogy: Proceedings of the Joint Women's Studies and South/West Asian Global Studies Seminar Series, 1997-98. (Pages 38-9) Occasional Paper, No. 3. Women's Studies Program, Illinois State University, Normal, Illinois
  • 1997, We Are the Writers! Iranian Studies 30(3-4): 291-293
  • 1997, The Politics of the Veil: Reflections on Symbolism, Islam, and Feminism, Thamyris: Mythmaking from Past to Present 4(2): 325-337
  • 1997, Women and Clandestine Politics in Iran, 1970-85, Feminist Studies 23(1): 7-42
  • 1996, Iranian Exiles and Sexual Politics: Issues of Gender Relations and Identity, Journal of Refugee Studies 9(1): 43-72
  • 1995, Islam, Politics, and Writing Women's History in Iran, Journal of Women's History 7(2): 113-144
  • 1994, The Metamorphosis and Emancipation of the Exiled, Journal of Refugee Studies 7(4): 411-417
  • 1994, The Iranian Left and the "Woman Question" in the Revolution of 1978-79, International Political Science Abstract 44(6): 697
  • 1993, National and International Aspects of Feminist Movements: The Example of the Iranian Revolution of 1978-79, Critique 1(2): 33-53
  • 1991, The Education of Women in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Journal of Women's History 2(3): 7-38
  • 1989, The Tearsmiles of the Artist, in Bidjan Assadipour (ed.), Calligraphy. Upper Montclaire, NJ: Rowzan Publication


  • 2002, Queer Nations: Marginal Sexualities in the Maghreb. By Jarrod Hayes, Sexualities 5(4):507-508
  • 2002, Imagined Masculinities: Male Identity and Culture in the Modern Middle East. Mai Ghoussoub and Emma Sinclair-Webb (editors), Sexualities 5(3):373-374
  • 1999, Sexuality in Islam. By Abdelwahab Bouhdiba, Sexualities 2(3): 369-371
  • 1999, Women in Muslim Societies: Diversity within Unity. Herbert L. Bodman and Nayereh Tohidi (editors), Journal of Iranian Research and Analysis 15(2): 186-188
  • 1992, Iranian Refugees and Exiles Since Khomeini. Asghar Fathi (editor), Contemporary Sociology 21(3): 365-366

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Persian Publications


Sketches of a Friendship Sketches of a Friendship (Persian Translation)
  • 2008, Sketches of a Friendship: Living Revolution and Exile. Berkeley and Créteil: Nogteh Books. (English and Persian text)


  • Forthcoming, Groups and Formal Organizations. In Hossein Adibi and Kazem Alamdari (eds.), Toward a Modern Sociology
  • Forthcoming, Issues of Autonomy and Democracy in the Iranian Women's Movement. In Strategies of the Iranian Women's Movement, edited by Shadi Sadr. Tehran: Rowshangaran Publication


  • Forthcoming, Exile and Home, Baya
  • 2003, Zanan: A Manifestation of the Women's Movement, Zanan 100: 196
  • 2002, The Bind of Nationality, Rahe Kargar 169: 72-73
  • 2000, Islam and Homosexuality, Arash 72: 41-45
  • 1999, The Beginning of the End, Noghteh 9: 4-6
  • 1999, Cultural Relativism and Sexual Oppression: Challenging or Kowtowing to Oppression, Jens-e Dovum 2: 39-53
  • 1998, "Islamic Feminism" and Women's Movement in Iran, Iran Nameh 16(4): 611-639
  • 1998, Feminism in Iran: In Search of What? Zanan 40: 32-38
  • 1997, Challenges of an Autonomous Women's Movement, Cheshmandaz 18: 41-65
  • 1996," Preface," in Raf'at Danesh (tr.), Game in Reverse: A Collection of Poetry by Tasslima Nassrin. Montreal: Iranian Women's Association of Montreal: 1-3
  • 1994, Problems of Writing Women's History in Iran, Iran Nameh 12(1): 81-128
  • 1993, On the Publication and Reviews of Tajussaltaneh's Memoirs, Iran Nameh 11(3): 547-553
  • 1989, The Life and Thoughts of Nikos Kazantzakis, Fasli dar Golesorkh, N.S., 6: 7-22
  • 1989, Feminism from Enlightenment to World War I, Porssa: A Persian Journal of Theoretical Research 2: 12-75
  • 1988, "What Has Happened to My Country?": In Commemoration of Saedi, Fasli dar Golesork, N.S., 4: 53-58
  • 1987, Midnight Sun: The Life and Works of Keramatullah Daneshian, Jahan 50: 39-43
  • 1987, A Review of Sorayya in a Coma by Ismail Fassih, Jahan, 49: 36-41
  • 1986, The Development of Capitalism and the Changing Role of Women, Jahan 45: 18-26
  • 1985, Tajussaltaneh's Memoirs, A Document from the Early Stage of the Women's Movement in Iran (1850s), Records of Iranian Art and Culture 3: 18-22


  • 2002, Edward Said, After the Last Sky. Tehran: Hermes
  • 1994, Elie Wiesel, Night. Tehran: Ramin
  • 1992, Nawal El-Saadawi, Woman at Point Zero. Stockholm: Afsaneh
  • 1985, Tajussaltaneh's Memoirs, A Document from the Early Stage of the Women's Movement in Iran (1850s), Records of Iranian Art and Culture 3: 18-22


  • 1989, Thoughts on Women and Society by Eleanor Marx-Aveling and Edward Aveling, Porssa: A Persian Journal of Theoretical Research 2: 82-106
  • 1987, "The Liberator" by Georg Lukács, Jahan 51: 28-32
  • 1986, "Jonathan Swift and A Tale of a Tub" by Anatoli Lonacharsky, Jahan 48: 24-31
  • 1986, "Mobilizing Women" by Norma S. Chinchilla, Jahan 18: 24-8, 19: 57-60

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In the news


By Krishan Mehta

In advance of International Women’s Day on March 8, the University of Toronto launched a new Master of Arts program in Women and Gender Studies with a significant gift established in memory Iranian feminist scholar Professor Hammed Shahidian.

U of T’s Women and Gender Studies Institute was established as a small undergraduate program in the early 1970s at New College and is now the largest and most comprehensive feminist academic research and teaching centre in Canada with more than 190 undergraduate and 50 graduate students, 27 collaborative academic units, and 15 faculty members.

“The development of new master’s degree program is quite timely given the array of current and emerging feminist-oriented research and teaching initiatives at the university,” said Professor Shahrzad Mojab, the institute’s director.  “The program provides a distinct framework from which graduate students will be able to apply critical feminist thought to their coursework and individual projects.”

The $250,000 donation will fund an endowed lecture series and graduate award at the institute. The provincial government has matched $50,000 of the gift through the Graduate Student Endowment Fund, and the Faculty of Arts and Science will match half of the annual payout. The lecture series will offer opportunities for students, scholars, and community activists from around the world to come together to present new research and debate issues in feminist studies.

“My brother was passionate about human rights and gender equality,” said Nahid Shahidian, executor of his estate. “By establishing these two funds at the University of Toronto, Hammed’s legacy will have a lasting impact on future generations of feminist scholars and activists.”

“The establishment of a lecture series and scholarship attest to his commitment to the advancement of women’s studies,” noted Mojab.

Professor Vivek Goel, vice-president and provost, added, “This gift represents a great step forward in strengthening transnational equity and justice issues in our community. This is a great boost for Women and Gender Studies, especially as we launch a new MA program.”