Sima Shakhsari

Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities

20152016 Forum on Sex

Sima Shakhsari

Assistant Professor, Women's & Gender Studies, Wellesley College

Ph.D., Stanford University, 2010

Sima Shakhsari’s research broadly focuses on sexuality and diaspora in the Middle East. Currently, they are conducting fieldwork research and writing about the politics of life and death in relation to the Iranian queer and transgender refugees in Turkey. In addition, they are working on a book manuscript that analyzes Weblogistan as a site of cybergovernmentality, where simultaneously national and neo-liberal gendered subjectivities are produced through online and offline heteronormative disciplining and normalizing techniques. Shakhsari was the 2010-2012 Postdoctoral Fellow in the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Program at the University of Houston and has published in Feminist Review, Sexualities, The International Journal of Middle East Studies, Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies, Transgender Studies II, and Queer Necropolitics.

Shuttling Between Bodies and Borders: Iranian Transgender Refugees, Human Rights, and the Politics of Life and Death

The harsh economic sanctions on Iran in the past few years have resulted in significant cuts in the Iranian state’s subsidies and loans for sex reassignment surgeries. As a result, an increasing number of transgender individuals are seeking refugee status in North America and Europe through the UNHCR offices in Turkey. The concomitant loss of citizenship rights and the geopolitically driven “protection” of rights entail new forms of regulation according to norms of the international refugee regimes and transitory and destination “host” states. Shakhsari’s research examines the way that Iranian transgender refugees are nationalized/denationalized, sexed, gendered, and raced in multiple re-reterritorializations as they transition across national boundaries, sexual norms, religious discourses, geopolitical terrains, and neoliberal economies during the “war on terror.”