Department of Middle Eastern Studies
Department of Middle Eastern Studies

Nahid Siamdoust


Assistant ProfessorPh.D., University of Oxford

Interests


Middle Eastern cultural production and politics, Iranian national and transnational culture and media, social media and disinformation

Biography


Dr. Siamdoust’s first large research project culminated in her book Soundtrack of the Revolution: The Politics of Music in Iran (Stanford, 2017). It is a fine-grained study of musical discourses and media use in the constitution and development of the public sphere in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Researched in Iran over a period of seven years, Soundtrack of the Revolution broke new ground by demonstrating the minute but powerful ways in which works of cultural production, and their multi-layered mediations, can register dissent and create political alignments within an authoritarian political sphere, but also of power’s productive abilities to shape forces in its own image. By centering a discussion of media and its importance in 20th century Iranian politics, it contributes to a growing literature that claims popular culture and media as key sites of analysis across the Middle East. Soundtrack of the Revolution was based on her doctoral dissertation, which won both the Middle East Studies Association’s Malcolm H. Kerr dissertation prize and the Douglas Leigh Memorial prize from the British Society for Middle Eastern Studies (BRISMES) for best dissertation in Middle Eastern Studies.

Her new research project examines the role of various media technologies in the constitution of poetic worldmakings among Iranian publics in post-1979 Iran, with a special view to performances and discussions around “joy,” and the centrality of women in these discourses. Here she is investigating the emergence of both analog and digital collectivities and their positionalities vis-à-vis state-imposed dogmatic religiosity, placing analysis of social and transnational media impact at the core of this research. As a member of the Provost’s Cluster in Global Media Flows and (Dis)Information, Dr. Siamdoust is also investigating in a separate project the productive entanglements between rightwing creators of conspiracy and disinformation campaigns in the US and transnational “Iran regime change” advocates.

Dr. Siamdoust has taught at Oxford University, New York University, Yale, and Harvard. Her writing has been published in The New York Times, Foreign Policy, Der Spiegel, and Jadaliyya, among others, and she often appears on English, German and Iranian media. 

Courses


MES 342 • Contemp Middle Eastern Cinema

40215 • Spring 2022
Meets T 2:00PM-3:30PM PAR 303
Hybrid/Blended
GC (also listed as RTF 342)

This course introduces students to some of the most pertinent themes in celebrated contemporary films across Arab countries, Turkey, Iran, and Israel & Palestine. In a region that has experienced decades of war, social uprisings, authoritarianisms, economic, social and political traumas, cinema has served as one of the most expressive avenues of insight into the politics and cultures of these countries. Together we will examine key films and delve into important debates that cross national boundaries.  The course will be organized into five topical sections. In the first we will familiarize ourselves with foundational texts on Middle Eastern cinema with questions revolving around themes such as national cinemas, the neorealism/documentary format, postcolonial, Third-Worldist and accented cinemas, and the international film festival circuit. In the subsequent four sections we will watch films and read accompanying texts that highlight the following themes: cultural memory, gender, social trauma, and authority/censorship.

 

Throughout the course, while delving into some of the most important themes and issues in Middle Eastern cinema, we will also sharpen our film analysis skills.  Students will be encouraged to participate in discussions where we prioritize an understanding of film as a medium that is both literary text and visual production, attending to both visual and narrative structures. In their papers and final exam students will have the opportunity to engage with the film theoretical texts that we will read and apply them to their analysis of assigned films.

MES 386 • New Middle East

40265 • Spring 2022
Meets W 2:00PM-5:00PM CAL 21
Hybrid/Blended

This course introduces students to some of the most pertinent themes in celebrated contemporary films across Arab countries, Turkey, Iran, and Israel & Palestine. In a region that has experienced decades of war, social uprisings, authoritarianisms, economic, social and political traumas, cinema has served as one of the most expressive avenues of insight into the politics and cultures of these countries. Together we will examine key films and delve into important debates that cross national boundaries.  The course will be organized into five topical sections. In the first we will familiarize ourselves with foundational texts on Middle Eastern cinema with questions revolving around themes such as national cinemas, the neorealism/documentary format, postcolonial, Third-Worldist and accented cinemas, and the international film festival circuit. In the subsequent four sections we will watch films and read accompanying texts that highlight the following themes: cultural memory, gender, social trauma, and authority/censorship. 

 

Throughout the course, while delving into some of the most important themes and issues in Middle Eastern cinema, we will also sharpen our film analysis skills.  Students will be encouraged to participate in discussions where we prioritize an understanding of film as a medium that is both literary text and visual production, attending to both visual and narrative structures. In their papers and final exam students will have the opportunity to engage with the film theoretical texts that we will read and apply them to their analysis of assigned films.

MES 342 • Soundtrack Of Revolutions

41185 • Fall 2021
Meets MWF 1:00PM-2:00PM SZB 5.624
Hybrid/Blended
GC

In this course we will investigate music’s role in social movements across the Middle East in the region's post-colonial era, from Nasser's Egypt onward to Iran's Green Movement, the Arab Spring and Turkey's Gezi Protests . We will tackle the most pertinent theoretical frameworks for the analysis of social movements in the region, as well as anthropological, sociological, and ethnomusicological writings on the role of popular culture more generally and music more specifically toward political and social mobilization.
One of the course's main aims is to shift our study of social and political developments in the region to consider music as an important avenue of mediation and contestation, especially within contexts of political authoritarianism, religious conservatism, or social strife. Another aim is to center an analysis of evolving media technologies in our understanding of these processes, from radio to television to social media. How have these varying media formats throughout the decades afforded different kinds possibilities for the productions of national imaginaries, the facilitation of transnational solidarities, and expressions of dissension?  A third theme that will run throughout the course will revolve around articulations of  the "public sphere."
We will be listening to lots of music and any language competency will be a fun asset, but not required for this course.

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    The University of Texas at Austin
    204 W 21st Street Stop F9400
    Calhoun Hall (CAL) 528
    Austin, TX 78712
    +1-512-471-3881