FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Dr. Shirin Saeidi has been named director of the King Fahd Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Arkansas’ Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences.

According to a press release from the university, Saeidi joined UA as an assistant professor of political science with a joint appointment in Middle East studies in 2018 and is the first female leader of the Middle East Studies Program since the center’s founding in the early 1990s.

“Having Dr. Saeidi direct our Middle East Studies Program is an incredible opportunity for our college, students, community and beyond,” said Kathryn Sloan, interim dean of Fulbright College. “She brings a wealth of experience to the director role through her extensive 10-plus years of field work in Iran, and her focus on gender, activism, citizenship, Islamism, and the role of women in authoritarian countries.”

Saeidi’s teaching and research also focus on international relations, comparative politics, qualitative methodology, theory, deviance, conflict and state formation, citizenship and nationalism, Islamism, women’s studies, sexuality and gender studies, and religion with special focus on the Middle East region.

Her book, “Women and the Islamic Republic: How Gendered Citizenship Conditions the Iranian State,” was published by Cambridge University Press in January 2022, and Saeidi has also published numerous peer-reviewed articles, book chapters and book reviews.

“My work draws on archival and ethnographic methods, and I have also conducted interviews with non-elites, former and current prisoners, military and state officials, as well as guerrilla fighters,” said Saeidi, who is fluent in Persian. “My research commitments have taken me to Iran, and my geographic area of interest is freedom.”

Saeidi said she is also looking forward to working with students in the Middle East Studies Program and supervising “ambitious graduate students interested in reimagining everything, from the nation-state container to abolition of the prison industrial complex, and even the hierarchical international system.”

Saeidi was also recently appointed to the U of A’s Chancellor’s Commission on Women, serves as faculty in residence, and participates in the Adopt a Professor Program.

Additionally, she serves as assistant editor of the Citizenship Studies Journal, as a reviewer for several academic journals and monographs, and was previously a technical advisor to the United Nations Women’s Program. She is also a member of the Middle East Studies Association, the International Studies Association, and the Feminist Political Economy of the Middle East and North Africa.

Saeidi holds a B.A. in government and politics from the University of Maryland and a Ph.D. in politics and international studies from Cambridge University. She was also a post-doctoral fellow at the Centre for Global Cooperation Research and the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany.