Kaveh L. Afrasiabi

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Kaveh Lotfollah Afrasiabi (Persian: کاوه افراسیابی‎, born 1958) is an Iranian-American political scientist and author.


Afrasiabi gained a PhD in Political Science from Boston University in 1988, with a thesis titled "State and Populism in Iran" under the supervision of Howard Zinn.[1][2]

Afrasiabi has taught political science at the University of Tehran, Boston University, and Bentley University.[3][4] Afrasiabi has been a visiting scholar at Harvard University (1989-1990),[5] University of California, Berkeley (2000-2001),[6] Binghamton University (2001-2002)[7] and the Center for Strategic Research, Tehran. During 2004-2005, Afrasiabi was involved as an advisor to Iran's nuclear negotiation team.[8]

Afrasiabi is a former consultant to the United Nations "Dialogue Among Civilizations", for which he interviewed the former Iranian president, Mohammad Khatami.[9] Afrasiabi is a member of the advisory board of the Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran. Afrasiabi has authored numerous articles in scholarly journals and newspapers, including Harvard Theological Review, Harvard International Review, UN Chronicle, Boston Globe, Global Dialogue, Middle East Journal, Mediterranean Affairs, Brown's Journal of World Affairs, International Herald Tribune, Der Tageszeit, Der Tagesspiegel, Journal of International Affairs, Telos, Nation Magazine, Asia times, Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Monthly Review, as well as dozens of articles and letters in The New York Times. Afrasiabi has made dozens of television appearances as a Middle East expert on CNN, Aljazeera, Voice of America, PBS, BBC, PressTV, Russia Today, and other networks.

Selected works[edit]

  • After Khomeini: New Directions in Iran's Foreign Policy (1994)
  • Nir/North: A Cinematic Story about the Iran-Contra Affair (1996)
  • Infringements (1998)
  • Islam and Ecology (2003)
  • Iran's Nuclear Program: Debating Facts Versus Fiction (2006)
  • Reading in Iran's Foreign Policy After September 11 (2008)
  • Looking For Rights At Harvard (2010)
  • UN Management Reform (2011)
  • Iran Phobia and US Terror Plot: A Legal Deconstruction (2012)
  • Shiism, Mahdism, and Communicative Eco-Theology (2015)
  • Upstairs, Downstairs and Other Short Stories (2015)
  • Iran Nuclear Negotiations (2015)


Afrasiabi v. Mottahedeh[edit]

From 1996 to 2003, Afrasiabi was involved in a legal conflict with Roy Mottahedeh, former director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University, who had been his superior during Afrasiabi's time as a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard, and Harvard University itself. The conflict started with an alleged extortion against Mottahedeh's subordinates and a "pre-dawn" arrest of Afrasiabi by Harvard police, and terminated in 2003 with a civil rights case against Harvard, Mottahedeh and the Supreme Court of the United States,[5][10][11] in which Afrasiabi acted as his own attorney. During associated controversies, Afrasiabi was supported by Mike Wallace of the US television program 60 Minutes,[12] author David Mamet,[13] linguist Noam Chomsky and political scientist Howard Zinn,[14] and former deputy prime minister of Iran, Farhang Mehr.[citation needed]In a video deposition, Mr. Wallace has defended Afrasiabi and accused professor Mottahedeh of making false statements to him about Afrasiabi.[15] His "David and Goliath" battle with Harvard has been praised by Mike Wallace, who has stated "I admire Dr. Afrasiabi. He has been wronged. The cannons of Harvard are lined up against a pea shooter." [16]

June 2010 incident[edit]

On June 27, 2010, Afrasiabi went to the Zuzu restaurant in Cambridge, Massachusetts (United States). According to Afrasiabi, employees there showed "racist and indecent behavior"[17] and "treated him unprofessionally",[18] after which he exited the restaurant without finishing his meal nor paying for it. He approached some police standing nearby. A restaurant employee approached the police. The police then arrested Afrasiabi, on the basis of an outstanding warrant. Afrasiabi claims the warrant was issued in error, based on a 1986 unregistered vehicle incident, for which he had already paid the fines. The police claim it originated from an incident in 1999.[18] Afrasiabi described the arrest taking place with "a racist attitude."[19] While in custody, Afrasiabi claims that he was denied the right to a telephone call to contact his family and/or a lawyer.[17][18][19] He said that the police officers were racist and brutal, stating, "If I had blond hair and blue eyes and had an American-sounding last name, no, I wouldn't have been subjected to this. They did this to me because they're racist."[18]

In July 2010, Afrasiabi filed a formal complaint against Cambridge police alleging racism and physical injury in the hands of Cambridge police, who placed him under arrest after he had approached them to complain of being mistreated at a restaurant.[20] The basis for his arrest was an outstanding warrant for a 1986 ticket, which Afrasiabi claimed to have paid at the time. A judge in Newton, Massachusetts agreed with Afrasiabi and dismissed the warrant without imposing any fines. Afrasiabi has alleged that while being transported to a court the next day, he was deliberately injured when the police van slammed the break after driving in full speed, resulting in Afrasiabi's multiple visits to the hospitals. The Cambridge police initially claimed that Afrasiabi had walked out of a restaurant without paying and then changed their story, deleting any reference to the restaurant.[21] In a letter to The Cambridge Chronicle, Afrasiabi has demanded an apology from the police for what he alleges is their racist and brutal mistreatment of him [22]


  1. ^ http://www.researchgate.net/publication/35582919_State_and_populism_in_Iran_
  2. ^ http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2010/afrasiabi030210.html
  3. ^ http://www.bentley.edu/offices/sites/www.bentley.edu.offices/files/registrar/200801-lsm-gpap.pdf
  4. ^ https://www.bentley.edu/offices/sites/www.bentley.edu.offices/files/registrar/200801-lsm-eegs.pdf
  5. ^ a b Upton, Geoffrey C. (1996-02-08). "Former Post-Doc Will Stand Trial; Afrasiabi Denies Extortion Charge, Cites 'Mind-Blowing Conspiracy'". Harvard University. Archived from the original on 2009-06-03. Retrieved 2009-06-04. 
  6. ^ http://ias44.ias.berkeley.edu/Newsletters/fall2000newsletter.pdf
  7. ^ http://www2.binghamton.edu/fbc/archive/nwslt-25.htm
  8. ^ Fathi, Nazila (2004-11-28). "Iran Reasserts Its Right to Enrich Uranium as Standoff Persists". The New York Times. 
  9. ^ Khatami, Mohammad; Kaveh L. Afrasiabi (2006-09-11). "Mohammad Khatami on the Dialogue Among Civilizations". United Nations. Archived from the original on 2009-06-03. Retrieved 2009-06-03. 
  10. ^ Afrasiabi, Kaveh L. (2005-02-17). "A letter to America". Asia Times. Archived from the original on 2009-06-03. Retrieved 2009-06-03. 
  11. ^ "KAVEH L. AFRASIABI, Plaintiff, Appellant, v. HARVARD UNIVERSITY; HARVARD UNIVERSITY POLICE DEPARTMENT; RICHARD W. MEDEROS; FRANCIS RILEY; LAUREEN DONAHUE; CENTER FOR MIDDLE EASTERN STUDIES; ROY P. MOTTAHEDEH; REZA ALAVI and SHOBHANA RANA, Defendants, Appellees.". United States Court of Appeals. 2002-07-01. Archived from the original on 2009-06-03. Retrieved 2009-06-04. 
  12. ^ "Between Mike Wallace and Me". 
  13. ^ "The David Mamet Society". 
  14. ^ "Reading Kafka at Harvard". 
  15. ^ Video on YouTube
  16. ^ http://www.iranian.com/main/2008/reading-kafka-harvard-4
  17. ^ a b "Abused scholar: US police conspiring against me". Press TV. 2010-07-01. Archived from the original on 2010-07-11. Retrieved 2010-07-11. 
  18. ^ a b c d Guha, Auditi; Jen Thomas (2010-07-08). "Iranian pundit claims 'police brutality' in Cambridge". Cambridge Chronicle. Archived from the original on 2010-07-11. Retrieved 2010-07-11. 
  19. ^ a b "Veteran Iranian-American Professor Talks of US Police Brutality Against Him". Hamsayeh.Net. 2010-07-02. Archived from the original on 2010-07-11. Retrieved 2010-07-10. 
  20. ^ http://www.wickedlocal.com/cambridge/news/x1609363084/Iranian-pundit-files-formal-complaint-with-Cambridge-Police-after-arrest
  21. ^ http://www.wickedlocal.com/cambridge/features/x1609354150/Pundit-claims-police-brutality-in-Cambridge,
  22. ^ http://www.wickedlocal.com/cambridge/news/opinions/letters/x1143357866/Letter-Cambridge-Police-owes-me-a-big-apology