Recorded talks and podcasts

Podcast: On Geopolitics Ep 1: Afghanistan and the legacy of Khorasan

Professor Ali M Ansari and Dr Susan Raine (University of Cambridge)

In this inaugural episode of our new series, Suzanne Raine and Ali Ansari discuss Afghanistan and look in detail at the historical and cultural significance of the Khorasan, a historical territory whose name survives in Persian and Islamist narratives about the future of the region and their own roles in global history.

October 2021 | University of Cambridge

The Making of Islamic Art: Studies in Honour of Sheila Blair and Jonathan Bloom

Professor Robert Hillenbrand

In their own words, Jonathan Bloom and Sheila Blair espouse ‘things and thinginess rather than theories and isations’. This book’s practical, down-to-earth dimension, expressed in plain, simple English, runs counter to the current fashion for theoretical explanations and their accompanying jargon when exploring the world of Islamic art. This bottom–up approach differs radically and refreshingly from that of much top-down contemporary scholarship. It privileges the maker rather than the patron.

August 2021 | Royal Asiatic Society

Shifting the Borders of Belonging in the Myth of the Nation (Beyzaie Conference)

Dr Saeed Talajooy

Myth of the Nation (A Ritual of Exorcism)” as a part of a conference celebrating Bahram Beyzaie’s 10 year anniversary at Stanford University, part of the Stanford Festival of Iranian Arts.

July 2021 | Stanford Iranian Studies Program

Playlist: Tudeh at 80

Organised by Leonard Michael and Siavush Randjbar-Daemi

The year 2021 marks the 80th anniversary of the establishment of the Tudeh (Masses) Party of Iran, a political formation which has played an important role in shaping the modern and contemporary history of the country. Throughout its existence, the Tudeh has deeply polarised the Iranian political community and has caused a considerable amount of controversy. A considerable number of the country’s leading political figures, intellectuals and statesmen have at least briefly transited through its complex structures. The Tudeh is still considered by many observers as Iran’s most significant and structured political party of the 20th Century.

March 2021 | Institute of Iranian Studies

Podcast: Defiance and Revolution in Iran

Professor Ali M Ansari and Dr Susan Raine (University of Cambridge)

Suzanne Raine talks to Professor Ali Ansari of St Andrew’s University about what led to the 1979 revolution and the creation of the radical, resistance state of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

March 2021 | University of Cambridge

Saladin and the Crusades: medieval and modern perspectives

Professor Carole Hillenbrand

What has been the legacy of the Crusades in Europe and across the Muslim world in modern times? Why is the evolution of the Saladin legend throughout history so remarkable? In this talk, Carole Hillenbrand  argues that whilst the word ‘crusade’ is still used today with little heed to the historical context in which it first appeared, it is abundantly clear at both a scholarly and more popular level that there is now a continuing and genuine interest in discovering more about the phenomenon of the Crusades in the Middle Ages and especially Islamic perspectives.

February 2021 | The British Academy

Iran, Islam and Democracy: The Politics of Managing Change

Professor Ali M Ansari

Professor Ali Ansari discusses the ideas that informed his book on political change in the Islamic Republic, the structure of the new state as it took shape under President Rafsanjani and the struggles to define it in the decades that followed, looking in particular at how both Marxian and Weberian concepts of the state and socio-economic structures can help us better understand the nature of the Islamic Republic.

January 2021 | Stanford Iranian Studies Program

Saints Talk: Iran, a short introduction

Professor Ali M Ansari

Professor Ansari discusses the contribution of ancient, Islamic and Western influences on the development of Iranian identity, the relationship between myth and history, and how distinct ideas of ‘Iran’ and ‘Persia’ have merged and impact our appreciation of Iran today.

January 2021 | University of St Andrews

Herodotus in St Andrews: Andrew Lang and ‘history as she ought to be wrote’

Professor Thomas Harrison

Professor Thomas Harrison explores Andrew Lang’s wide-ranging engagement with Herodotus, with special focus paid to his letter to Herodotus, published in his Letters to Dead Authors in 1886.

May 2020 | Herodotus Helpline

Social distancing and history as contagion: Herodotus 4.196

Professor Thomas Harrison

For the inaugural seminar in the Herodotus Helpline online series, Professor Thomas Harrison discusses chapter 4.196 from Herodotus’ Histories, offering some fascinating insights into the history of silent bartering in the ethnographic tradition.

April 2020 | Herodotus Helpline

Melaka and the Middle East

Professor Andrew Peacock

We know what Portuguese and Dutch texts said about Melaka in the 15th century. What did poetry and navigators from the Middle East tell us? In this talk Professor Andrew Peacock presents intriguing insights into the entrepôt of Melaka, using extracts from unfamiliar Arabic, Persian, and Turkish sources.

August 2019 | Malaka in Fact

The 1953 roots of 1979

Professor Ervand Abrahamian (City University of New York)

To mark the fortieth anniversary of the 1979 Iranian Revolution, Professor Ervand Abrahamian (Emeritus Distinguished Professor, City University of New York) delivered a keynote lecture titled ‘The 1953 roots of 1979’.

May 2019 | Institute of Iranian Studies

The long lasting legacy of the ancient Iranian empires

Professor Ali M Ansari

Dan talks to Ali Ansari about the history of Iran.

April 2019 | History Hit

How did the British approach Iran?

Professor Ali M Ansari

Dan talks to Ali Ansari about the history of Iran, and discovers just how much of it there is. In this episode he focuses on Iran in the eighteenth century and its interaction with European powers, particularly the British.

April 2018 | History Hit

Rumi’s poetry

Professor Carole Hillenbrand, Dr Lloyd Ridgeon (Glasgow), and Professor Alan Williams (Manchester)

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the poetry of Rumi, the Persian scholar and Sufi mystic of the 13th Century. His great poetic works are the Masnavi or “spiritual couplets” and the Divan, a collection of thousands of lyric poems. He is closely connected with four modern countries: Afghanistan, as he was born in Balkh, from which he gains the name Balkhi; Uzbekistan from his time in Samarkand as a child; Iran as he wrote in Persian; and Turkey for his work in Konya, where he spent most of his working life and where his followers established the Mevlevi Order, also known as the Whirling Dervishes.

August 2018 | In Our Time, BBC


Professor Carole Hillenbrand, Professor Peter Adamson (Munich), and Professor Robert Gleave (Exeter)

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the life and work of Al-Ghazali, a major philosopher and theologian of the late 11th century. Born in Persia, he was one of the most prominent intellectuals of his age, working in such centres of learning as Baghdad, Damascus and Jerusalem. He is now seen as a key figure in the development of Islamic thought, not just refining the theology of Islam but also building on the existing philosophical tradition inherited from the ancient Greeks.

August 2018 | In Our Time, BBC

Art of narrative in the Great Mongol Book of Kings

Professor Robert Hillenbrand

Join world-renowned Islamic art scholar Robert Hillenbrand as he introduces the exciting imagery and complex narrative program of the Great Mongol Book of Kings. Illustrated with example leaves from the museum’s collection, Hillenbrand, the world expert on this book, will bring to life the feats of love, war and courage described in the verse of Persian poet Firdausi’s epic poem and illustrated throughout the Great Mongol Book of Kings.

July 2018 | Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas

Architecture in medieval Persian painting: fact or fantasy

Professor Robert Hillenbrand

Prof. Hillenbrand looks at how Persian painters tackled depicting architecture while also showing the process of construction, and how they operated within what to a Western eye might seem like constricting conventions.

March 2018 | Iran Heritage Foundation, London

Mirhady Endowed Lecture – The politics of nationalism in modern Iran

Professor Ali M Ansari

Investigates the historiography of modern Iran, both the way in which historians have interpreted the development of Iranian state and society, as well as the way in which Iranian historians have sought to construct a distinctly Iranian identity both in terms of their own history but also in relation to regional and international powers, most obviously the West.

August 2018 | Simon Fraser University, Canada

Islam and Christianity, the great convergence: working jointly towards equal citizenship rights

Professor Carole Hillenbrand

On the occasion of the 34th ordinary session of the UN Human Rights Council, the Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue (“The Geneva Centre”) held a side-event at the United Nations Office in Geneva (UNOG) in which representatives from the Muslim and Christian regions of the world were invited to exchange their views on the convergence between Islam and Christianity.

April 2017 | Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement, Geneva

Islam: diversity and women

Professor Carole Hillenbrand

September 2016 | Festival of Faiths, Edinburgh

Assessing the Iran deal

Professor Ali M Ansari

Professor Ali Ansari, Senior Associate Fellow at RUSI discusses with Dr Gary Samore, former Nuclear negotiator with the Obama Administration, the Iran Deal and the next steps.

January 2016 | Royal United Services Institute, London

Britain and the British Question: Iranian nationalists and the idea of Britain

Professor Ali M Ansari

Professor Ali Ansari (University of St. Andrews) discusses the impact of Iranian-British relations and British political ideology on Iranian nationalists and their concept of ‘nation’ in nineteenth-century Iran and beyond. Presented as part of the 2015-16 Mossavar-Rahmani Center Seminar Series.

January 2016 | Princeton University, New Jersey

Poised between the past and the future: the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

Professor Robert Hillenbrand

Tthe Sheikh Zayed Mosque draws on the many diverse traditions of earlier Islamic architecture and relates to other modern state mosques. This lecture explores its use of fine materials and its innovations in vegetal and geometrical ornament while emphasizing the multiple ways in which it meets modern requirements in an era of rapid change.

September 2015 | NYUAD Institute, Abu Dhabi

Cyrus the Great: Between history and legend

Mr Reza Zarghamee (PhD student)

The life of Cyrus the Great has been the subject great interest from antiquity to the present. Reza Zarghamee will discuss the aims and methods of his recently published book Discovering Cyrus. The talk will provide a general overview of the Persian conqueror’s origins and accomplishments and will focus on key and controversial pieces of evidence, such as the Cyrus Cylinder, as well as on the interplay between legend and history in the surviving accounts of Cyrus’ life.

February 2015 | Iran Heritage Foundation, London

The Old and New Testaments in Islamic painting

Professor Robert Hillenbrand

Stories of the prophets from the Old and New Testaments have had a long history of illustration in Islamic painting traditions. Drawing from accounts in the Qur’an and other sources in Islamic literature, scholars, poets, historians and storytellers developed new texts on the lives of the prophets. These texts were often accompanied by paintings. Dr. Robert Hillenbrand will explore the richness of some of these literary and artistic traditions.

October 2014 | Asian Art Museum, San Francisco