Dr Pardis Mahdavi, will deliver this talk followed by Q&A.

Dr Pardis Mahdavi is currently Dean of Social Sciences and Director of the School for Social Transformation at Arizona State University.


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Synopsis of this talk:

The year 2020 marked the 19th anniversary not only of the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center - arguably resulting in the beginning of the U.S. “war on terror”- but also the 19th anniversary of the U.S. Trafficking in Persons report (TIP), demarcating the re-emergence of the global “war on trafficking”[1]. Two decades into two of America’s most problematic and elusive wars presents a time for reflection about the global ramifications of the furthering of U.S. Empire. In this presentation I will examine the suturing of the two wars. The “war on terror” and the “war on trafficking”, two seemingly separate initiatives, have become interwoven in recent years and conspire to castigate Muslim majority countries as sites of depravity, difference and danger, fueling Islamophobic rhetoric about the “clash of civilizations” (Huntington 1993). Both discourses are raced, classed and gendered, producing distinct tropes of victims and villains, while the intersection of these two “wars” presents a confluence of moral panics, or public anxieties pertaining to ‘immoral’ behavior, about sexuality, Islam and immigration (Cohen 1972). The discourses about trafficking and terror are becoming hegemonic and inescapable. More disconcertingly, these discourses are resulting in a series of policies and sometimes militarized responses that are hurting vulnerable populations globally, but particularly in the Middle East. Each “war” seeks to marshal rhetoric about the other to further bolster its cause and justify the creation of harsh policies suffused with overt condescension.

About Dr. Mahdavi:

Pardis Mahdavi, PhD is currently Dean of Social Sciences and Director of the School for Social Transformation at Arizona State University. Before coming to Arizona, she was Acting Dean of the Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver (2017-2019), after spending eleven years at Pomona College from 2006-2017 where she most recently served as professor and chair of anthropology and director of the Pacific Basin Institute at Pomona College as well as Dean of Women. Her research interests include gendered labor, human trafficking, migration, sexuality, human rights, transnational feminism, and public health in the context of changing global and political structures. She has published four single authored books and one edited volume in addition to numerous journal and news articles. She has been a fellow at the Social Sciences Research Council, the American Council on Learned Societies, Google Ideas, and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. In 2018 she was appointed by Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper and re-appointed by Governor Jared Polis to serve on the Colorado Commission on Higher Education.