Who We Are
Program Director of Persian Studies
Persis Karim is the Director of the newly-established Persian Studies program and a professor in the Department of English & Comparative. She also coordinates the Middle East Studies program at SJSU. She is contributing poet and editor of two anthologies of Iranian Diaspora literature---Let Me Tell You Where I've Been: New Writing by Women of the Iranian Diaspora(2006) and A World Between: Poems, Short Stories and Essays by Iranian-Americans (1999) and numerous articles about Iranian Americans and Iranian Diaspora literature. She is co-editor of Tremors: New Fiction by Iranian American Writers (2013) which will be published by the University of Arkansas Press. She teaches world and comparative literature and creative writing at San Jose State University.
Associate Program Director of Persian Studies
Professor Shahin Gerami is Director of Women’s Studies and Associate Director of Persian Studies at San Jose State University. She holds a law degree from the University of Tehran and Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Oklahoma. Her research and activism has involved various aspects of gendered disparity ranging from displaced population, religious mandated sexism, and political profiling of Muslim men.
Dr. Gerami’s research on gendered religious fundamentalist movements culminated in a book titled Women and Fundamentalism: Islam and Christianity, published in 1996 by Garland Press. She has collaborated with the United Nation’s High Commission for Refugees to conduct a needs assessment of Afghan refugee families in Iran. Her findings have been published and presented at numerous international conferences including a keynote speech, “Global Masculinity vs. Transnational Brown Men: Discursive Identities at Home and Abroad” at the international conference on Migration, Islam and Masculinities in Oldenburg, Germany. In 2011, she presented her work “Women’s Agency and Islamisms” at the conference on Globalization, Gender, and Languages, at University of Torino, Italy. Her current research on Iranian women’s identity construction on Facebook was presented at The International Institute of Sociology 40th World Congress in New Delhi, India, in 2012.She is currently conducting a survey of Iranian Americans and attitudes toward Iran and co-directing “Iranian-American Voices in Silicon Valley: Evolution of a Community.” She can be reached at 408-924-5754 or email@example.com.
Layla Forooghi is a sophomore pursuing a double major in English Composition and Literature and
Humanities with a Religious concentration, including a minor in Business at San José
State University. Born and raised in California, she was ultimately led to the Persian
Studies Program at SJSU through her love for the Persian culture and desire to learn
more about it while helping others learn more along the way. Ms. Forooghi is a 2012-2013
Salzburg Scholar, and became acquainted with the Director of the Persian Studies Program through said Salzburg Program. As an avid San José community member,
Ms. Forooghi also was appointed San Youth Commissioner of District 10 for the fiscal
years of 2010-2012, serving during the last leg of Nancy Pyle’s term in office. Interested
in Persian culture and politics, she hopes that a better understanding of the differences
between the two can be better understood in the community through working with the
Persian Studies Program at SJSU.
Ume Naqvi is a student at San Jose State University. She was born in Pakistan, and raised in Saudi Arabia where she attended the International American School. To that effect, Ume is an international student herself. Ume's upbringing in and her love of Middle Eastern culture inspired her to join the Persian Studies Program at SJSU. As Persis Karim's assistant, Ume is responsible for event publicity, correspondence, press releases, and support with grant work. She also maintains the Persian Studies Facebook profile. From this experience, Ume hopes to gain insight about Persian culture and further globalize her own sociopolitical views. Ume is most excited, however, to be working alongside a poet and writer with whom she hopes to perfect her writing/publishing skills (by osmosis if nothing else!). She currently holds a minor in Chemistry, and is majoring in English (with emphasis on Creative Writing). As is obvious, Ume is diligently preparing herself to become a published poet/author someday soon. When she isn't writing her blog or revising her poems, Ume likes spending time with her husband and three beautiful kids.
Ritu Srivastava is an international student from India, pursuing Masters of Sciences in Mechanical Engineering at San Jose State University since fall of 2012. She completed her bachelors degree in Instrumentation and Control System Engineering from University of Delhi in 2008 and worked for three years at Advanced Systems Laboratory as Mission Designer and System Analyst. She started working as a graduate assistant for the Director of Persian Studies program in spring of 2013. She helps maintain the department website and her responsibilities include assisting the director with research, publicity and event planning. Coming from an engineering background, she believes that this role will help her broaden perspectives in life and introduce her to the rich Persian culture.
Damian Bacich, Chair, World Languages and LIteratures, San Jose State University
Kathryn Davis, Chair, Global Studies, San Jose State University
Mary Hegland, Professor, Anthropology, Santa Clara University
Hashem Kardevani, Professor, History, Cabrillo College
Mazyar Lotfalian, Assistant Director, Samuel M. Jordan Center for Persian Studies, UC Irvine
Paul McNamara, Advancement, San Jose State University
Fariba Nejat, Community Activist, Founder Iranian Federated Women's Clubs
Ashraf Zahedi, Independent Scholar