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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

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Acclaimed scholar Dr. Janet Afary lectures on modern Iran

When a City College student was tragically killed in an assault with strong racial undertones, the school put into effect a memorial lecture in his honor. The Leonardo Dorantes Lecture will now hold its 19th annual speech at 12:45 March 10 in the Sports Pavilion.

The lecturer will be Dr. Janet Afary, a native Iranian, author, feminist activist and professor at UCSB. She will be first Middle Easterner to perform the lecture, which serves to educate listeners of racism and diversity in our society, and to encourage the development of positive attitudes toward all cultures.

“Dr. Afary will be speaking about ‘The Politics of Veiling in Modern Iran’ and will discuss what you have in a patriarchal society,” said Dr. Manoutchehr Eskandari-Qajar, director of middle eastern studies and political science professor.

Afary holds the Mellichamp Chair in Global Religion and Modernity at UCSB, where she is also a professor of religious and feminist studies. She has a Masters in Linguistics from Tehran University and a doctorate in History and Near East Studies from the University of Michigan. Among many mentions, Afary has received the University Scholar Award at Purdue University. She has published four books.

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The lack of a middle-eastern lecturer was something the Dorantes Committee had set out to rectify this year.

“We looked over our lecturers over the last 20 years and noticed we had not had a middle-eastern speaker,” said Cindy Salazar, who sits on the Committee for the Dorantes Lecture.

Dr. Diane Rodriguez-Kiino, director of student diversity and also on the committee, asked Eskandari-Qajar if he had any suggestions for this year’s selection.

He suggested Afary, his fellow colleague at UCSB, who published her book “Sexual Politics in Modern Iran” in 2009.

“Dr. Afary’s recent book is about women in Iran, and that is a very nice marriage between what the Dorantes Lecture is asking for-someone who raises awareness on minority issues,” he said.

The Leonardo Dorantes Lecture was established in 1990 when Leonardo Dorantes, a City College English as a Second Language student, was killed. The lecture is a memorial proposed by former Superintendent-President Dr. Peter MacDougall, and paid for with donations.

The lecture is free and a reception will immediately follow.

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