Pardis Mahdavi

Pardis Mahdavi, PhD is currently Dean of Social Sciences and Director of the School of Social Transformation at Arizona State University (ASU). Prior to joining ASU, she was the Acting Dean of the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver. Before coming to Denver, she was at Pomona College from 2006-2017 where she most recently served as professor and chair of anthropology, director of the Pacific Basin Institute at Pomona College, as well as Dean of Women. Her research interests include academic freedom, diversity and inclusion in higher education, gendered labor, human trafficking, migration, sexuality, human rights, youth culture, transnational feminism and public health in the context of changing global and political structures. She has published five single authored books and one edited volume in addition to numerous journal and news articles. She has been a fellow at the Social Sciences Research Council, the American Council on Learned Societies, Google Ideas, and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. 

Recent Articles and Interviews

Essential Readings: Migration and the Gulf by Pardis Mahdavi

When looking at migration in the Middle East, it is important to address questions of how to define “migration” and “labor” and what distinguishes “forced” from “voluntary” migration and labor. Drawing on key ethnographic insights, these authors also challenge the artificial divide between “forced” and “voluntary” labor/migration that has dominated international trafficking policies and debates about gendered migration and coercive labor in Asia.

Trafficking as terror

In 2005, two young men were executed in Mashad, Iran, sealing multiple fates at once. Outside Iran, the execution was labeled an “execution of gay men because they were gay.” Inside Iran, the story was different. Neither of these two young men identified as gay, and their crime was that of raping a young boy. By mislabeling it “yet another case” of a Muslim country’s backward policies on sexuality, the violence of the rape was erased, as were the strengths of movements inside Iran rethinking sex

The Snowflake Revolution

For the past several years, social critics as well as some members of higher education communities have been quick to label students as “coddled” or part of a “snowflake” generation. This narrative has come through increasingly heated debates about the direction or value of higher education. Many — such as Greg Lukianoff or Jonathan Haidt — specifically use this terminology to bemoan the declining status of academic freedom cum rigor due to “snowflakes” who are unable to face arguments, narrativ

Is the #MeToo movement the beginning of a political revolution?

A sexual revolution is underway. Survivors of sexual assault — of which women represent 90 percent — are asserting their control over their own bodies and pushing back against gender inequality in the corporate world. The immediate results have been staggering. Stories detailing sexual abuse and harassment have become regular elements of daily news coverage, leading many perpetrators to issue public apologies and resign or lose their jobs.

How #MeToo Became a Global Movement

On October 15, 2017, American actress Alyssa Milano posted a tweet urging women to speak up and out about their experiences with sexual assault or harassment using the phrase “me too.” Overnight, social media erupted, as #MeToo took hold in every corner of the world. By the end of the day, there were similar movements in multiple languages, including Arabic, Farsi, French, Hindi, and Spanish. Today, women in 85 different countries are using the hashtag to bring attention to the violence and hara