About the Center

Drawing upon San Francisco State University's robust academic foundation of ethnic, racial and social justice, the Center for Iranian Diaspora Studies inspires interdisciplinary inquiry and exploration of Iranian diaspora experience and its impact on transnational identity.

The Center for Iranian Diaspora Studies promotes the innovative study of the experiences, cultures and effects of Iranian diasporas. Through interdisciplinary scholarship and artistic programming, the Center seeks to promote critical thinking and connection within and among diaspora communities. 

Three students study at a table

Photo of 2022 summer interns (Left to right Joseph Ara, Ariana Tabrizi, and Tania Jiroudi).

Persis Karim

Message from the Director

“This center, the first of its kind, represents a bold new initiative for a field that has been gaining international recognition. The center’s vision is to support and disseminate this new scholarship and to showcase the diverse and unique cultures of Iranian diaspora communities in the Bay Area, California and globally. Revolution, war, migration and the complex transnational identities that emerge from these circumstances are shared by so many other communities and cultures today. The center draws on SF State’s strong foundation of studying ethnic, racial and social justice issues in the arts, humanities and social sciences to create opportunities for collaboration and exchange around the Iranian diaspora both in and outside the University.”

- Dr. Persis Karim, Director


Watch philanthropist Neda Nobari and previous Dean Andrew Harris discuss their vision for the Center.


In 2016, philanthropist and San Francisco State University Alumna, Neda Nobari, made a 
bold proposition to SFSU: to establish the Center for Iranian Diaspora Studies to support 
new research, scholarship and programming to highlight the Iranian diaspora experience. 
Nobari's generous gift made possible the establishment of this Research and Service Organization (RSO) and, in the fall of 2017, Dr. Persis Karim was hired as the Center's inaugural director. Since its establishment, the Center, housed in the College of Liberal & Creative Arts, has held true to its mission and values of supporting diverse and inclusive programming as well exploring the Iranian diaspora in a global, national and local contexts. The Center seeks to support new research, create collaborative programs and research initiatives, and engage in outreach to local Iranian diaspora communities. 


The Center envisions a world where all people of Iranian heritage anywhere — whether local, national or global — feel connected to Iranian history and culture, live with dignity in thriving communities, and are appreciated for the impact they make in the countries and cultures they now call home.