Former Fulbright Fellow (2007, Tunisia) Iraj Omidvar is co-editor with Anne Richards of Muslims and American Popular Culture Volumes I and II (Praeger 2014) and of Historic Engagements with Occidental Cultures, Religions, Powers (Palgrave Macmillan 2014). Omidvar’s scholarship is transnational, bridges disciplines in the humanities and social sciences, and is informed by his biography. He was born in Iran under a secular autocracy and as an adolescent witnessed the 1978-79 Islamic Revolution and the first three years of the Iran-Iraq War before leaving Iran for West Germany in 1983. There, he contested deportation in courts, before coming as a refugee to the United States in 1985, where he has lived since. Having experienced some of the personal and social costs associated with revolution, war, and migration, he has used critical theory and postcolonial studies to understand the conditions that led to these specific events as a guide to answering broader questions on how communities go about framing, understanding, and solving the problems they face.
For his current book project on Muslim immigrants in Europe and the United States, he studies the arguments offered in the West since late 1700s for the expansion of the franchise and of the inclusion of historically marginalized voices in policy-making/political forums. His aim in doing so is to examine prevalent justifications for multiculturalism and diversity in institutional and professional settings that are traditionally considered outside politics: editorial boards, committees, artistic teams, etc. Because these interests relate to how communities come to know, his studies intersect with the questions of rhetoric of inquiry, sociology of knowledge, educational philosophy, and professional communication. Since 2009, he has also been examining how mobile, networked digital media are transforming professional communities and their relationships with various publics.