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Nushin Arbabzadah

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Nushin Arbabzadah

Research Scholar since 2010

While the scholarship has failed to recognize Soraya Tarzi as a key figure in advancing women’s rights and education in Afghanistan, popular historiography has reduced her to a nationalist icon, disregarding her connections to the wider feminist movement to which she was connected in Europe and the Arab Middle East. 

Arbabzadah received her M.Phil. in Oriental Studies from Cambridge University in 2002. She worked extensively for The British Council in London as an editor, project manager, and advisor on Islamic culture and identity before becoming a Visiting Scholar at the UCLA International Institute. She has edited two books, No Ordinary Life: Being Young in the Worlds of Islam (2004) and From Outside In, Refugees in British Society (2007); coedited Three Drops of Blood (2009); and translated Houshang Assadie’s Letters to My Torturer from Farsi to English. Fluent in English, German, Spanish, Persian (Afghan and Iranian Farsi), she can also read French and Tajik. 

Arbabzadah's research project focuses on Queen Soraya Tarzi (1899–1968), who despite being a major player in the making of modern Afghanistan, has been overshadowed through scholarship focusing either on the "great men" of her time or the political movements of nationalism and supra-nationalist political Islam. The project pursues two goals: securing empirical data to deconstruct the myths surrounding her life and contextualizing Tarzi’s career so that she can be restored to her rightful place as an active participant in the international women’s movement of her time.

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