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Freedom of Expression in Iran

Freedom of Expression in Iran

A Panel Discussion with Professor Mohsen Kadivar, Ramita Navai and Professor Anoush Ehteshami
From our series Freedom of Expression, Knowledge and State Authority in Asia

This is the first in a series of events under the title Freedom of Expression, Knowledge and State Authority in Asia. The idea for the series was originally put forward by Dr Matthew Hedges and he has been closely involved in its developent. It has taken two years to bring the concept into reality. The series will address issues around freedom of expression in a number of Asian countries and in the context of some trans-national themes. Events will be roughly quarterly.

For this first event we look at Iran where questions about the nature of state authority and freedom of expression have loomed large since the Revolution in 1979. In recent months they have acquired new urgency.

Mohsen Kadivar (@Mohsen_Kadivar)was born in 1959 in Fasa, in the southern province of Fars, Iran. He is a leading public intellectual, a theologian, and a research professor of Islamic studies at the Department of Religious Studies at Duke University. His interests span both classical and modern Islamic thought. He has published prolifically in Persian, and English. He had a prominent academic career in Iran but became increasingly critical of the regime. After a period of imprisonment and restrictions on his ability to teach he took up a position at the University of Virginia in 2008 and has been in the United States ever since. His publications have been banned in Iran since 2009 and he was formally stripped of his academic postions there in 2011.

Ramita Navai is an Emmy and Robert F. Kennedy award-winning British-Iranian journalist, documentary producer and author. Her first book, City of Lies: Love, Sex, Death and the Search for Truth in Tehran, won the Debut Political Book of the Year at the 2015 Political Book Awards, and was awarded the Royal Society of Literature’s Jerwood Prize for non-fiction. It has been translated into six languages. With a reputation for working in hostile environments, she has reported from over forty countries, made over thirty documentaries and features and worked as a foreign correspondent for print.  For her latest documentary she reported and executive produced AFGHANISTAN UNDERCOVER for PBS Frontline and NO COUNTRY FOR WOMEN for ITV (2022). It is the result of a six-months investigation into the Taliban’s treatment of women, exposing mass arrests and abductions. It won the Grierson Award for Best Current Affairs Documentary as well as a Rose d’Or Award.

Anoush Ehteshami (@AnoushEhteshami) holds the Nasser al-Mohammad al-Sabah Chair in International Relations at Durham University where he is also the Director of the Institute for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies. He was Durham University’s first Dean of Internationalization, 2009-2011, and was the founding Head of the School of Government and International Affairs (2004-9). He has been a Fellow of the World Economic Forum, and served as a member of the WEF’s foremost body, the Global Agenda Councils, 2010-12, focusing on energy. He was Vice-President and Chair of Council of the British Society for Middle Eastern Studies (BRISMES) 2000-2003. He is Editor of two major book series on the Middle East and the wider Muslim world, and is member of Editorial Board of seven international journals. He spoke to the RSAA on the topic “What Is In It For Us? China’s BRI and the Middle East” in April 2021.

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