Pouya Alimagham is a historian of the modern Middle East, and a Faculty Affiliate at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Middle East Initiative. He specializes on such themes as revolutionary movements, US foreign policy, Orientalism, “Political Islam” and post-Islamism, women and gender, 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 cover the Arab Spring, the Latin sound in Iranian protest music, women in Middle East revolutions, sectarianism, the psycho-history of post-9/11 discourse, and the 2022 uprising in Iran.
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 instituted and taught for the first time, “Modern Iran: A Century of Revolution”—a course he continues to teach. 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.
His interviews can be found on Al Jazeera, France 24, and BBC and BBC Persian, and his quotes have appeared in The Independent and Newsweek.