Milad Odabaei is a postdoctoral fellow at the Sharmin and Bijan Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Iran and Persian Gulf Studies. He received his PhD in Anthropology with a Designated Emphasis in Critical Theory from the University of California, Berkeley in May 2018. His research and teaching bring together critical and anthropological approaches to the study of translation and transmission of knowledge as well as religion and politics in the theorization of modern Iran. At Princeton, Odabaei will be working on his first book manuscript, The Outside: Translation and Iranian Travails of Learned Politics, which offers a historical and anthropological reflection on the translation of European social thought in post-revolutionary Iran. The Outside draws on ethnographic and archival research in the Iranian academy, the research centers of the Shi’i seminaries, and private translation circles in Tehran and Qom. It argues that after the 1979 Revolution and the war with Iraq (1980-1988), amid cycles of revolt and suppression as well as international regimes of isolation and sanction, translation is at once a manifestation of a historical crisis and an attempt to produce a discourse of “learned politics.” Building on his study of the postcolonial migration of discourse from Europe to the Middle East, Odabaei’s second project considers the psycho-political challenges of refugees and migrants to the Global North. It is a study of violence and creativity in relation to the movement of Persian speaking LGBTQ+ communities from Iran, Tajikestan and Afghanistan to North America.
Odabaei’s research is published in Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, the edited volume Iranian Constitutional Revolution of 1906 and Narratives of the Enlightenment, HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory (Summer 2020), and a forthcoming contribution to L’esprit and Liberation: An Ali Shari'ati Reader. Odabaei edited "Iranian Cosmopolitanism," the 2019 special issue of Comparative Islamic Studies, and co-edited "Europe at a Crossroads," the inaugural issue of Zone Books’ Near Futures Online. Before coming to Princeton, he held the 2018-2020 Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Department of Anthropology at McGill University.