As a native of Iran, who was born and raised in Tehran as a member of the Armenian minority population, arrived in the U.S. in 2006 to enter college as first generation, my personal background has prepared me with the knowledge of diverse cultures and the ability to work with individuals from diverse backgrounds. My research project emerged out of a crucial moment in my life. When I first moved to the U.S., I was unaware of the fact that my Persian-Armenian identity would put me in the category of the oppressed as a Middle Eastern woman in Western society. Everyone I met expressed concerns about my victimization in Iran and wanted to liberate me. I was frustrated with Western misperceptions of Middle Eastern women. I did not see myself as a victim; I rather viewed myself as an autonomous woman who had managed to be an active agent of her life and future.
This thought-provoking moment led me to think more deeply about my home country and Western perceptions about it. I took it on myself to deconstruct these misrepresentations through my research and teaching.
Working on the topic of socio-cultural others for my doctoral dissertation, I focused on medieval period to illustrate that historically medieval Iranian society was an egalitarian one, accepting of human diversity. Furthering my investigation of the inclusion of members of minorities and socio-cultural Others in Iranian culture and literature, I work on modern Persian fiction and the representations of deviant female figures.
My research agenda takes root in my enthusiasm to encourage students to think critically across cultures and disciplines. I believe that literature can be a means to familiarize students with socio-cultural and literary backgrounds of underrepresented cultures. Literature can be the site for taking actions and for giving birth to new ideas. Therefore, in my research and teaching, I aim to resolve stereotypical representations of Iran, and to familiarize readers with Persian culture and literature. Both my research and teaching are geared towards helping future generations in developing an attitude, which transcends all dichotomies and biases. Coming from a diverse background myself, I am well equipped with the required tools, knowledge and attitude to prepare my students to embrace all humans.
An Interview with Stephanie House: “Professor Claudia Yaghoobi: Champion of Cultural Diversity”
An Interview with John Hachtel:GC Conversations