IQSA 2009 Conference:
Conference jointly organized by
IQSA and the Institut fuer Iranistik, Vienna, Austria

~ Architecture in Qajar Persia ~

Conference Location:

Theatersaal Conference Room (2nd floor), Austrian Academy of Sciences (AAS),
Sonnenfelsgasse 19, 1010 Vienna, Austria

Conference Dates:

Thursday June 4 and Friday June 5



Session Chairs and Introductory Speakers:

Touraj Atabaki

Dr. Touraj Atabaki studied theoretical physics (BSc, MSc) and history at National University of Iran and University of London. Worked at Utrecht University, where he acquired MA and PhD. Holds the endowed chair of 'Social History of the Middle East and Central Asia' at the Department of Languages and Cultures of the Middle East of the Leiden University. He also holds the Senior Research Fellow position at the International Institute of Social History in charge of the Department of the Middle East and Central Asia. Dr. Atabaki has been visiting senior research fellow at the Middle East Centre, St. Antony's College, University of Oxford and visiting fellow at the Academy of Sciences of Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. He is a member of the Academic Committee of the International Institute of Asian Studies and member of editorial boards of: Journal of Iranian Studies, Journal of Azerbaijani Studies, Review of International Affairs, Journal of Iran and the Caucasus and Journal Central Asian Survey. His main research interest is historiography of everyday life and comparative subaltern history.

He can be reached at:

Ferydoun Barjesteh van Waalwijk van Doorn

Ferydoun Barjesteh is the Vice-President of IQSA and Editor-in-Chief of its Journal Qajar Studies, which is now in its eighth year. He has published extensively on Iranian history, in particular focusing on genealogical research. He is the director of IQSA's Fath Ali Shah Project, tracing the descendants of Fath Ali Shah in the male and female lines. He is also the founder of the DNA research project on the Qajars, which has already yielded groundbreaking results. He has written and co-edited many volumes on Qajar history, including Qajar Era Dress; Health, Hygiene and Beauty in the Qajar Era, the Montabone Album and a volume on the work of Sevruguin.

He can be reached at:

Houchang Chehabi

Dr. Houchang Chehabi is professor of International Relations and History at Boston University. Professor Chehabi has taught at Harvard, Oxford and UCLA, and has held Alexander von Humboldt and Woodrow Wilson fellowships. Prof. Chehabi was also Guest Scholar at the Institute for Iranian Studies of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna, in 2004-05. He is the author of Iranian Politics and Religious Modernism: The Liberation Movement of Iran under the Shah and Khomeini (1990) and co-editor of Politics, Society, and Democracy: Comparative Studies (1995) and Sultanistic Regimes (1998). He has also written numerous articles, book reviews and translations.

He can be reached at:

Manoutchehr Eskandari-Qajar

Dr. Manoutchehr Eskandari-Qajar is currently Professor of Political Science and Director of the Middle East Studies Program at Santa Barbara City College. He studied Political Science and International Law at the University of Vienna/Austria. In 1980 he received the Study Abroad Scholarship of the Austrian Ministry of Science and Education and the Fulbright Scholarship of the Fulbright Commission in Austria to study at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he received his PhD in Political Philosophy in 1984. In 2000 he co-founded with Ferydoun Barjesteh and Dr. Majid Tehranian, the International Qajar Studies Association (IQSA) with the aim of focusing scholarly reasearch on this important but neglected period of Persian history. In June 2009, IQSA will have held nine conferences on various aspects of Qajar Studies and will have published its ninth volume of the Journal Qajar Studies. IQSA will be celebrating its Ten-Year Anniversary in 2010 with a conference on the theme of "Retrospective and Prospects in the Study of the Qajar Era."

Dr. Eskandari-Qajar's main research interests are in the area of Qajar Studies. Together with Mr. Ferydoun Barjesteh van Waalwijk van Doorn, editor-in-chief, he edits the Journal of the International Qajar Studies Association (IQSA), Qajar Studies, which is now in its ninth year of publication and the latest issue of which is dedicated to the theme of this year's conference in Vienna, Architecture in the Qajar Era. His recent publications include: "The Story of the 'Fair Circassian' and Mirza Abol Hassan Khan Shirazi, 'Envoy Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary' of Fath Ali Shah to the Court of St. James," in Qajar Studies, Vol. VII, June 2007; Guest Editor, Iranian Studies, Vol. 40, September 2007; "Novellas as Morality Tales and Entertainment in the Newspapers of the late Qajar Period: Yahya Mirza Eskandari's 'Eshgh-e Doroughi' and 'Arousi-e Mehrangiz', in Iranian Studies, Vol. 40, September 2007; "Between Scylla and Charybdis: Policy-making Under Conditions of Constraint in Early Persia," in War and Peace in Qajar Persia, ed. Roxane Farmanfarmaian, Routledge, 2008; and "The Message of the Negarestan Mural of Fath Ali Shah and His Sons: Snapshot of Court Protocol or Determinant of Dynastic Succession," in Qajar Studies, Vol. VIII, June 2008.

He can be reached at:

Bert Fragner

Dr. Bert Fragner is Executive Director of the Institute for Iranian Studies of the Academy of Sciences of the University of Vienna. He studied at the University of Vienna and the University of Tehran and taught at the universities of Vienna, Bern, Berlin, Bamberg and Freiburg. He is an expert on travelogues and memoir literature of the Qajar era and is one of the founders of the field of Qajar Studies as an area of specialization and research. He is the author of numerous articles, monographs and books in Iranian Studies.

He can be reached at:

Ebba Koch

Dr. Ebba Koch is currently Visiting Professor in the Department of History of Art and Architecture at Harvard University. She is professor of Art History at the Institute for Art History of the University of Vienna and is a renowned expert on Mughal and Islamic art. Since 2001 she has been the architectural advisor to the Taj Mahal Conservation Collaborative. In that capacity Prof. Koch has made outstanding contributions to the understanding of early modern India, particularly the architecture, art, and culture of the Mughal Empire. She is widely considered to be the leading authority on Mughal architecture. With the collaboration of architect Richard A. Barraud, she has conducted major surveys of the palaces and gardens of Shah Jahan, reconstructed the Mughal city of Agra, and prepared the first full documentation of the Taj Mahal. In this way she built one of the largest archives of photographs and drawings of the Islamic architecture of the Indian subcontinent. She has also made important contributions to Mughal painting and applied arts, the artistic connections between Europe and Mughal India, and imperial symbolism.

She can be reached at:

Conference Presenters:

Bavand Behpoor


Layla Diba

Dr. Layla S. Diba held the post of Director and Chief Curator of the Negarestan Museum of 18th and 19th century Iranian Art from its inception in 1975 until 1978. Under her leadership, the holdings of the museum increased from a few hundred items to more than three thousand artworks. After moving to the United States in 1979, she continued her scholarly activities and acted as advisor to museums, corporations and cultural societies, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Jewish Museum, The Louvre, the Textile Museum of Washington, D.C., The Guggenheim Museum and the Mobil Oil Corporation. In 1990, Layla S. Diba joined the Brooklyn Museum, where she served as Hagop Kevorkian Associate Curator of Islamic Art (January 1990 to 1998) and as Hagop Kevorkian Curator of Islamic Art (1998 to December, 2000). During her tenure at the Brooklyn Museum in the fall of 1998, Dr. Diba organized the highly successful exhibition, Royal Persian Paintings: The Qajar Epoch (1785-1925), the first major international exhibition on 18th and 19th century Persian art and culture. The exhibition received exceptional press coverage and was seen by more than 150,000 visitors during its international tour. Royal Persian Paintings was also exhibited at the UCLA at Armand Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, and at the Brunei Gallery of London University in London in spring-summer 1999. As part of the exhibition, Dr. Diba also edited and co-authored the accompanying catalogue publication, Royal Persian Paintings: The Qajar Epoch, 1785-1925.

From 1994 to 2004, Dr. Diba was appointed Visiting Professor at the Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design and Culture. She continues to write, lecture and advise on various aspects of Islamic Art, specializing in Persian Art of the 17th century and later. In 2004, she curated an exhibition of the contemporary Iranian photographer, Sadegh Tirafkan at the Lehmann-Maupin Gallery in New York and sat on an advisory panel for the Islamic World Arts Initiative of the Doris Duke Foundation. In 2006, she was Islamic Curator for the Cultural Development Master Plan for the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi. She is currently working on a catalogue of the Wolf collection of Turkoman jewelry, to be published by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Dr. Diba is also a collector of Persian and Islamic art and a benefactor and advocate for numerous Persian cultural causes. In 2009, Dr. Diba’s public speaking engagements will include the Keynote Speech at the Victoria and Albert Museum’s Conference on Qajar Textiles as well as the prestigious Calderwood Annual Lecture on Islamic Art at The Harvard Art Museum. In addition to her lecture engagements, Dr. Diba also serves on the Boards of the Encyclopedia Iranica and Soudavar Memorial Foundations.

She can be reached by writing to:

Vahid Ghobabian

Dr. Vahid Ghobabian is Assistant Professor in the Department of Architecture at the Islamic Azad University, UAE Branch. He is the author of several books and articles most notably Architecture of Tehran During the Naseredin Shah Period: Tradition and Modernity in the Contemporary Architecture of Tehran (Tehran 2003).

He can be reached at:

Talinn Grigor

Dr. Talinn Grigor (Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2005) is Assistant Professor of modern and contemporary architecture in the Department of Fine Arts at Brandeis University. Her interests are in the relationships between architecture and (post)colonial politics, focused on West Asia. Her forthcoming book, The Civil(ized) Nation: Cultural Heritage and Modernity in 20th-century Iran (Art and Architecture in the 21st Century series, Periscope Publishing, 2009) traces the history of national patrimony, architectural culture, and notions of good taste under the Pahlavi dynasty (1921-79). She is also preparing a second book, entitled Of Censorship, Kitsch and Exile: Contemporary Iranian Art and Visual Culture (London: Reaktion Books, 2011). She is the author of numerous articles that have appeared in the Art Bulletin, Third Text, Future Anterior, Journal of Iranian Studies, Thresholds, ARRIS, and DOCOMOMO. She has received a postdoctoral fellowship at the Getty Research Institute (2008-90); the Andrew Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship from Cornell University (2005-06); the Ittleson Predoctoral Fellowship from CASVA in the National Gallery of Art (2003-05); fellowships at the Open Society and Roshan Cultural Heritage institutes (2000-04), as well as Aga Khan Award at MIT (1998-02). Her teaching interests are in the areas of modern architectural theory and history; critical theory; Islamic architecture; revolutions, (post)colonialism, Orientalism, and globalization. Her present project deals with the turn-of-the-century European art-historiography and its connections to the late 19th- and early 20th-century eclecticism of Qajar and Mughal architecture and identity politics.

She can be reached at:

Joanna de Groot

Dr. Joanna de Groot is Senior Lecturer in History at the University of York, UK. She is a member of the International Society for Iranian Studies and the UK Social History Society. Her recent publications include Religion, Culture, and Politics in Iran: from the Qajars to Khomeini (I.B.Tauris 2007); 'War, empire, and the "other": Iranian/ European encounters in the Napoleonic era' in J.Rendall [eds.] War, empire and slavery in the revolutionary and Napoleonic eras (forthcoming Palgrave, 2009); '"Brothers of the Iranian race": manhood nationhood and modernity in Iran c.1870-1914' in S. Dudink [eds.] Masculinities in politics and war (Manchester University Press, 2004). Her recent conference presentations include papers on the role of 'modernity' in nineteenth century Iranian history and on the notion of 'cultural encounter'.

Joanna de Groot can be reached at:

Pedram Khosronejad

Dr. Pedram Khosronejad is Research Fellow at Institute for Iranian Studies, Dept. of Social Anthropology, University of St. Andrews, Scotland, U.K. His research interests include cultural and social anthropology, the anthropology of death and dying, visual anthropology, nomadism and pastoralism, indigenous religions, material culture and popular culture with a particular interest in the Iran and the Islamic world.

Pedram Khosronejad can be reached:

Ebba Koch

(For Bio, please see above.)

She can be reached at:

Hamid Ma'mani and Negin Sharifi


They can be reached at:

Markus Ritter

Dr. Markus Ritter is since 2004 Researcher in the History of Islamic Art at the Institute of Iranian Studies of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna. Markus Ritter received his D. Phil in History of Islamic Art from the University of Bamberg/Germany in 2003 and is working on Islamic art and architecture of the medieval and early modern period with particular regard to Iran. His current research is on wall painting and cloth of gold and silk from Iran. Book publications include Mosques and Madrasa Buildings in Iran 1785-1848 (Leiden: Brill, 2005) and the collective volume Iran and Iranianate Cultures (Wiesbaden: Reichert, 2008). A forthcoming book deals with architectural decoration from an Arab palace of the Umayyad period.

He can be reached at:

Farhad Roozbehi

Farhad Roozbehi is an architect, urban designer and PhD candidate in the history of architecture at Versailles University (UVSQ) in France. He studied at Tehran University and S. Beheshti (previously Melli) University in Tehran, and holds his Masters degrees from both. In Iran, he worked as architecture designer and physical planner in different agencies and as architecture designer and consulting engineer on his own. In France since 2001, he received his research master's degree (DEA) from the University of Versailles in history of architecture and urban morphology and has since advanced to PhD candidature. As a PhD candidate, he is undertaking research on transformations and changes in Iranian architecture and urban spaces in the first half of the 20th century.

In history of architecture, his principal interest is to discover the environmental values of the past and to distinguish that with his own methods for approaching the meaning and sense of the spaces, buildings and urban morphology. In the main, he believes that the history of Iranian architecture is a complex field between existing spaces and forgotten spaces, still unknown to most people, particularly the Iranian society, and his main goal is to learn and discover this still largely undiscovered field.

He can be reached at:

Kamran Safamanesh

Kamran Safamanesh is an architect, urban designer and historian whose main research interest is history and theory related to the formation of the built environment. He studied at the University of Tehran and at the University of California at Los Angeles and Berkeley, and holds Master's degrees in architecture and urban design from both. He has taught in Iranian colleges and universities since 1983 and has lectured at academic institutions nationally and internationally. He founded the Urban Research Institute in Tehran, which has conducted architectural, social and urban formation research in Iran since 1980. The center now holds an extensive archive on the city of Tehran and its historical buildings, and also more generally on Qajar architecture and contemporary buildings in Iran. He is the principal partner of Safamanesh and Associates architects and urban planners, which has been responsible for many projects including new cultural and educational buildings, urban revitalization and the rehabilitation of city centers and their historical streets and complexes. The renovation of gardens and buildings are among some of the projects in which he has been involved during the last decades. He is currently completing a detailed study The History of Tehran and another Principles for Evaluation of Historical Building and Complexes, whilst previous publications include The Story of Two Gardens (1990) and Configuration and Evolution of Tehran's Arteries and Roads (1989), as well as many articles in specialist architectural journals and historical publications.

He can be reached at:

Cyrus Samii


He can be reached at:

Jennifer Scarce

Jennifer Scarce B.A., F.S.A.(Scot) was Curator of Middle Eastern Cultures, National Museums of Scotland. She is now an Honorary Lecturer, School of Design, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, at the University of Dundee, Scotland, a research and travel consultant, freelance curator and author. She has arranged many permanent and temporary exhibitions of Middle Eastern culture for the National Museums of Scotland. She has travelled widely in the Middle East, North Africa and Eastern Europe Ð Iran, Turkey, the Arab Gulf states, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco,Tunisia, Romania and Bosnia Ð both collecting contemporary textiles and dress for the Museum and also pursuing research projects such as carpet weaving in Romania, Ottoman Turkish court dress, the tilework decoration of 19th century Iranian architecture and the material culture of the North Africa and the Arab world. Her many publications include a survey of Romanian carpet weaving, articles and books on Middle Eastern dress, Kuwait and Iran and most recently Domestic Culture in the Middle East. She is also interested in European travellers to the Middle East especially those of Scottish origin. She has lectured widely for conferences and groups and has accompanied many tours to the Middle East , North Africa and Romania.

She can be reached at:

Mohammad Reza Shirazi

Mohammad Reza Shirazi is an Iranian architect who taught and practiced in his home country for five years. Since the Fall of 2005, he has been a doctoral student in the field of theory of architecture at Brandenburgische Technische Universität Cottbus. He is co-editor of Cloud-Cuckoo-Land, an international journal of architectural theory.

He can be reached at:

Fatema Soudavar

Fatema Soudavar Farmanfarmaian is an independent researcher and writer of numerous articles on Iran, ancien t as well as modern. She is also a Member of the Board of the Soudavar Memorial Foundation and a frequent contributor to many journals and conferences on Iran and the Persianate world.

She can be reached at:

Heidi Walcher

Dr. Heidi Walcher has studied history at the University of Tübingen and Yale. She teaches Middle Eastern and Iranian History at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London and has worked extensively on the political and social history of late 19th century Iran. Her publications include biographical articles, as well as urban, political, and religious topics of the history of Isfahan, including "Face of the Seven Spheres: Urban Morphology and Architecture of Isfahan in the 19th Century" (Iranian Studies); "Between Paradise and Political Capital: The Semeiotics of Safavid Isfahan" (Transformations of Middle Eastern Natural Environments); and In the Shadow of the King: Zill al-Sultan and Isfahan under the Qajars (I.B.Tauris).

She can be reached at: