Pouya Alimagham is a historian of the modern Middle East at MIT’s Department of History. He specializes on Iran, Iraq, and the Levant in the 20th century, focusing on such themes as revolutionary and guerrilla movements, imperialism, Political Islam, and post-Islamism. His first published article, “The Iranian Legacy in the 2011 Egyptian Revolution: Military Endurance and US Foreign Policy Priorities”—written two years before the 2013 coup in Egypt—outlined how the Iranian Revolution served as a precedent for both Egypt’s military brass and the US foreign policy establishment, and how it informed the decision to avoid a military crackdown in order to safeguard cohesion and prevent a political vacuum. By doing so, the military was poised to retain ultimate power in post-Mubarak Egypt, which was manifest in the military overthrow of Egypt’s first democratically-elected president. His dissertation, titled: “Contesting the Iranian Revolution: The Green Uprising,” was the 2016 winner of the Association for Iranian Studies’ Mehrdad Mashayekhi Dissertation Award, which is presented biannually. In the study, he argued that the Green Uprising in 2009 was a culmination of a decades-long history that constituted a post-Islamist paradigm shift in Iran. He harnessed wider regional history as well as Iran’s own revolutionary past in order to underscore his thesis. He is currently working on converting his dissertation into a book manuscript, and teaches “The Middle East in the 20th Century”–a survey course–“Islam, the Middle and the West,” which covers the early Islamic period until the present day, unpacking core thematic issues, such as colonialism and nationalism, political Islam, the false dichotomy of “Islam and the West,” and the so-called “Clash of Civilizations,” and he co-taught in the fall of 2017, “How to Stage a Revolution”–his unit of which covered the historical and theoretical underpinnings of the Iranian Revolution and the Green Uprising. In the fall of 2018, he will teach for the first time, “Modern Iran: A Century of Revolution.”
He is a native Persian speaker with four years of formal Arabic training at Harvard University, the University of Michigan, and the American University of Beirut, and extensive travel experience in Iran, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Israel and the Palestinian Territories.
Ph.D. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 2015
M.A. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 2011
M.A. Harvard University, 2009
B.A. University of California, Berkeley, 2004