Alireza Doostdar

Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies and the Anthropology of Religion; also in the College



PhD (Harvard University)

Alireza Doostdar teaches courses on social theory, modern Islam, and Iranian politics and history. He received his Ph.D. in Anthropology and Middle Eastern Studies from Harvard University. His first book, under contract with Princeton University Press, is tentatively titled “The Experimenters: Modernity and the Supernatural in Iran.” The book examines the emergence of practices, sensibilities, and knowledge-forms pertaining to a category of the "supernatural" (mavara) that are largely distinct from those dispositions and attitudes that govern Muslim conceptions of and encounters with the "unseen" (ghayb). This research brings to light a range of largely ignored knowledges and practices, from occult science and spiritist seances to modern esotericist therapeutics and popular Shi'i hagiography. Doostdar's other interests include Islamic spiritual cinema, modern universalist religious movements, state entanglements with sorcery, and the decades-old project of Islamizing the sciences in Iran.

Select work: 

"Portrait of an Iranian Witch", The New Inquiry

Swift 227

Current and Upcoming Courses

Anthropology and Sociology of Religion

AASR 33600 Anthropology of Religion

AASR 41004 Shi’ism and Modernity

AASR 42514 Witchcraft

AASR 42904 Walter Benjamin

AASR 42908 Moral Geographies

AASR 43310 Feminism and Islamic Studies

History of Judaism

HIJD 44612 The Occult in the Islamic World

History of Religions

HREL 42514 Witchcraft

HREL 42904 Walter Benjamin

HREL 44612 The Occult in the Islamic World

Islamic Studies

ISLM 41004 Shi’ism and Modernity

ISLM 42904 Walter Benjamin

ISLM 43310 Feminism and Islamic Studies

ISLM 44612 The Occult in the Islamic World