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Protests in Iran: What’s different this time?



As large scale protests and demonstrations continue in Iran, a key question is: What about these events is different? Will the government make concessions on women’s social and political grievances? How are other groups – like organized labor and political activists – working to support the demonstrations, and how are international actors supporting (or undermining) this wave of activism? This conversation brings together three experts on Iranian politics and history to address these and other pressing questions.



Shirin Saeidi, Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville

Norma Claire Moruzzi, Associate Professor of Political Science and Gender & Women’s Studies, University of Illinois at Chicago

Sina Azodi, Lecturer of International Affairs, The George Washington University

Moderated By:

Shana Marshall, Assistant Research Professor of International Affairs, The George Washington University

The Middle East Policy Forum is presented with the generous support of ExxonMobil.


  • Shirin Saeidi Dr. Shirin Saeidi is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Arkansas, and the Director of the King Fahd Center for Middle East Studies. She is the author of Women and the Islamic Republic: How Gendered Citizenship Conditions the Iranian State published by Cambridge University Press in 2022.

  • Norma Claire Moruzzi is Associate Professor of Political Science and Gender and Women’s Studies, with an Affiliation in History, and Director of the International Studies Program and Chair of the Middle East and Muslim Societies Cluster at UIC. She is also a member and past chair of the editorial committee of the journal Middle East Report. Dr. Moruzzi’s research and teaching address the politics of social identity, with particular emphasis on the intersection of gender, religion, and nationalisms. Trained as a political and social theorist, she also makes use of archival and ethnographic methods in her scholarship and in the classroom. Her first book, Speaking through the Mask: Hannah Arendt and the Politics of Social Identity (Cornell University Press: 2000) won the 2002 Gradiva Book Award. She has published on women’s and gender issues and cinema in Iran and the Middle East, as well as contemporary and historical issues of the politicized discourses of gender and identity in global context. From 1998-2008 she regularly conducted field-work in Iran, while also participating in and conducting workshops for women’s groups and contributing to local journals. She is currently working on a book analyzing transformations in Iranian women’s lives since the 1979 Revolution, titled Tied Up in Tehran: Women, Social Change, and the Politics of Daily Life.

  • Sina Azodi is a Lecturer of International Affairs at The George Washington University. His research interests include international security, nuclear non-proliferation, and US-Iranian relations. Sina previously worked as a Research Assistant at Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security and Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. He is a frequent commentator on both English and Persian speaking media, including BBC Persian service, Sky News, Al-Jazeera, TRT World and i24. Sina’s analysis has appeared on Columbia University’s Journal of International Affairs, Arms Control Association, Center for Strategic and International Studies, and the Middle East Institute, and has been quoted by the New York Times, Newsweek, Forbes and Spiegel. Sina earned his BA and MA in International Affairs from the Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University.

  • Shana Marshall is Associate Director of the Institute for Middle East Studies and Assistant Research Professor of International Affairs. Her dissertation, “The New Politics of Patronage: The Arms Trade and Clientelism in the Arab World” examined how Middle East governments use arms sales agreements to channel financial resources and economic privileges to pro-regime elites. Prior to GW, Dr. Marshall was a fellow at The Crown Center for Middle East Studies at Brandeis University and the Niehaus Center for Globalization and Governance at Princeton University. Her current research focuses on patterns of military entrepreneurship in Egypt, Jordan, and the UAE.