As a legal anthropologist, I conduct research and teach courses focusing on the intersection of law, culture, and politics, including human rights and humanitarianism. My courses focus on human rights, refugee rights and identity, humanitarianism, post-conflict reconciliation, and women's rights in Muslim societies. My research explores the formations of women's rights and human rights in cultural contexts and draws on continuing ethnographic fieldwork in Iran. My first project explored the politicization of 'rights talk' and women's subjectivities in post-revolutionary Iran, and resulted in my book, The Politics of Women's Rights in Iran (Princeton University Press, 2009).
I am currently working on a new research project that examines the Islamic mandate of forgiveness, compassion, and mercy in Iran's criminal sanctioning system, jurisprudential scholarship, and everyday acts among pious Muslims. This new research project considers the Muslim mandate of forgiveness or forbearance as a central ordering component of an Islamic way of life. As an anthropologist, I am not simply interested in the texts of the sources, Qur'an and Hadiths, but also in how pious Muslims practice forgiveness, forbearance, mercy, and compassion in everyday life. That is, how does this compulsion to Muslims manifest through social interaction, law, and states politics? One specific area I am considering is Iran's criminal sanctioning laws, which permit individual forgiveness (not to be confused with the state pardon). One of the aims of this study will be to appraise the relationship between the legal and social manifestation of forgiveness to a certain understanding of human rights. Finally, I am interested in how the Muslim compulsion to forgive and forbear may potentially play a role in reconciliation and transitional justice. I have not lost my interest in women's status and rights nor gender. This project will also consider how gender (symbolically and literally) figures into forgiveness.