Pardis Mahdavi, Ph.D. is currently at Pomona College as Assistant Professor of anthropology after pursuing her doctorate at Columbia University in the departments of Sociomedical Sciences and Anthropology. She received her B.A. in Diplomacy and World Affairs from Occidental College, and an M.A. (in Anthropology) and a Masters of International Affairs (MIA) from Columbia University. Her research interests include sexuality, human rights, youth culture, transnational feminism and public health in the context of changing global and political structures. Her first book project was on the intersection between sexuality and politics in post-revolutionary Iran, while her current work looks at migration and ‘trafficking' in the United Arab Emirates.Pardis has published in the Encyclopedia of Women in Islamic Cultures, Culture, Health and Sexuality, Anthropology News, and the Institute for the Study of Islam in the Modern World Review. Pardis has received outstanding research awards from the American Public Health Association, the Society for Medical Anthropology and the Society for Applied Anthropology. She is currently an editor for Culture, Health and Sexuality as well as Rahavard Quarterly, a journal devoted to contemporary social issues in Iran and amongst the Iranian diaspora. Her book, Passionate Uprisings: Iran's Sexual Revolution has recently been published with Stanford University Press.

Education Diplomacy and World Affairs – Occidental College; M.A. in Anthropology – Columbia University; MIA (Masters in International Affairs) – Columbia University; Ph.D. in Sociomedical Sciences and Anthropology – Columbia University


Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Pomona College 2006 - present
Visiting Assistant Professor of Public Health, New York University, Summer 2007
Teaching Assistant, Columbia University School of Public Health, 2006
Teaching Assistant, Barnard College, 2005
Research Assistant, Columbia University School of Public Health, 2005
Visiting Scholar, Tehran University, 2004
Instructor, School of International Affairs, Columbia University, 2003
Practicum Coordinator, Columbia University School of Public Health, 2002



Iran, Gulf Countries, Sexuality, Sex work, Trafficking, Youth, Human Rights

Project Summary

This project investigates interactions between issues of labor, gender, migration, and statehood through the lens of Dubai's unskilled foreign migrant workers. Using ethnographic research methods (including participant observation and in-depth interviews), preliminary findings have thus stressed: 1. Dubai's rapid emergence onto the international scene has made it an attractive venue for migrant labor and the trafficking of women; 2. Dubai is characterized by a unique lack of civil society. Minimal social service providers, if any, are not controlled and operated by the state, raising accessibility and privacy concerns, particularly for migrant workers whose rights have been violated. The project explores the conflation of discourses on trafficking, migration and sex work through womens' own narratives.

Major Publications

  • Passionate Uprisings: Iran's Sexual Revolution (Stanford University Press, October 2008)
  • "'But What If Someone Sees Me?' Women, Risk and the Aftershocks of Iran's Sexual Revolution" in Journal of Middle East Women's Studies Spring 2009
  • "Who Will Catch Me If I Fall? Health and the Infrastructure of Risk in Urban Tehran", in Contemporary Iran edited by Ali Gheissari, (Oxford University Press, April, 2009)