Say What Your Longing Heart Desires: Women, Prayer, and Poetry in Iran


Fri, 03/05/2021 - 3:00pm to Fri, 05/20/2022 - 3:48am


Part of the Spring 2021 Middle Eastern and North African Studies Colloquium Series

Niloofar Haeri, Professor, Athropology; Program Chair, Islamic Studies Johns Hopkins University 

Abstract: Dr. Haeri will present her recently published book, Say What Your Longing Heart Desires at the Spring 2021 Virtual Colloquium Series. Her book begins with the question of how we can avoid looking at revolutions as either failures or successes. The 1979 revolution in Iran resulted in a mass involvement with theological questions—most notably, what kind of Islam is the true one? The Islamic Republic sought to define and impose a certain version of Islam on Iranians. Hence, it was inevitable that people would question the authority of this particular approach by the state and offer their own alternatives. Dr. Haeri will discuss her investigation of the usage of classical poetry; spirituality of namaz; the temporality of performing a ritual; and the role of language in constructing a relationship with God.

Bio: Dr. Haeri’s work has focused on the question: What difference does language make? Through her work, she seeks to understand how the circle that is language changing society (community, politics, religion, rituals) changing language actually works. After receiving her BA and PhD in linguistics from the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Haeri’s first book addressed the gendered agents of language change in Cairo. Additional fieldwork in Cairo has addressed linguistic changes to Classical Arabic and its role as a national language in Egypt and other Arab countries. Between 2008 and 2016, Dr. Haeri carried out fieldwork in Tehran, Iran with a group of middle class, educated women born in the 1940s. This work forms the base of her recent book, Say What Your Longing Heart Desires: Women, Prayer, and Poetry in Iran.


This event will be on Zoom. Registration closes 24 hours before the event. The registration link will be posted here prior to the event:

Co-sponsored by Roshan Graduate Interdisciplinary Program

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