Middle East Studies
Mehrdad Babadi Headshot

Mehrdad Babadi

Omar Khayyam Postdoctoral Research Associate in Iranian Studies

Mehrdad Babadi is a sociocultural anthropologist whose research focuses on marriage, waithood, modern intimacies, youth and gender, and generational change in Iran and the broader Middle East. He received his Ph.D. from the Department of Anthropology at Boston University in May 2023. His dissertation, “Marriage Postponed: The Transformation of Intimacy in Contemporary Iran,” used ethnographic and interview-based data to examine the new patterns of youth intimacy, the evolution of young people’s perspectives on premarital relationships, and the reasons behind the widespread delay in marriage among university-educated young Iranians. Babadi engages with sociocultural, psychological, and moral perspectives in order to explain the main reasons behind the delay in marriage. His research concludes that marriage postponement and the rise of premarital and non-marriage practices such as dating and cohabitation have transformed intimacy in contemporary Iran, leading to significant changes in gender relations and family structure.

Babadi’s work has been published in Waithood (edited by Marcia Inhorn and Nancy Smith-Hefner) and Zanan-e Emrooz, the leading feminist journal in Iran. Currently, he is preparing the manuscript of an article, “Rhyme of Romance: Persian Poetry in the Romantic Lives of Iranian Youth.” It explores the role and impact of classical Persian poetry on the romantic lives of contemporary young Iranians, both as a cultural model and a historical form of knowledge.

At Brown, Babadi will be working on his first book manuscript based on his dissertation research, making connections between the transformations of intimacy in contemporary Iran and the recent feminist revolutionary movement (Woman Life Freedom) that is led by women demanding their rights to bodily autonomy and the freedom to choose their social and intimate lifestyles. In addition, he will teach a course on the Ethics and Politics of Intimacy in the Middle East in the spring of 2024 and another one on the Aesthetics and Politics of Iranian Cinema in the spring of 2025.