Pouya Alimagham is a historian of the modern Middle East at MIT. He specializes on Iran, Iraq, and the Levant, focusing on such themes as revolutionary and guerrilla movements, imperialism, representation and Orientalism, “Political Islam” and post-Islamism, and the intersections therein.
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. The manuscript was published in expanded form with Cambridge University Press in 2020. His other articles and book chapters (some in progress) cover the Arab Spring, Iranian protest music, women in Middle East revolutions, sectarianism, and the psycho-history of post-9/11 discourse.
He teaches “The Modern Middle East”–a survey course–“Islam, the Middle East, and the West,” which covers the early Islamic period until the present, focusing on the life of Muhammad and Quranic exegesis, and unpacking thematic issues, such as Orientalism, colonialism and nationalism, political Islam, whether such a bipolarity of “Islam and the West” is useful, Islamophobia, and the “Clash of Civilizations.” He co-teaches with two other faculty members “How to Stage a Revolution”–his unit of which covers the historical and theoretical underpinnings of the Iranian Revolution and the Green Uprising. In the fall of 2018, he also instituted and taught for the first time, “Modern Iran: A Century of Revolution.” In the spring of 2019, MIT’s School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (SHASS) awarded him the Levitan Teaching Award—an award that was the result of a student-initiated process. He has also taught part-time at Boston University in the fall of 2020.
His English and Persian language interviews can be heard on KPFK 90.7 FM and KIRN Radio Iran 670 AM, respectively, and his most recent quotes have appeared in The Independent, Al Jazeera, Asia Times, and Newsweek. His latest opinion pieces have been published in liberal, centrist, and conservative media, such as LobeLog, Informed Comment, The Fletcher Forum, and The American Conservative.
Education: Ph.D. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor M.A. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor M.A. Harvard University B.A. University of California, Berkeley