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Familial Undercurrents: Untold Stories of Love and Marriage in Modern Iran

October 21, 2022 @ 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm EDT

Virtual Event Virtual Event

The Elahé Omidyar Mir-Djalali Institute of Iranian Studies


York University Department of History


Iranian Studies Book Launch

In-person & Online


Professor Afsaneh Najmabadi’s

Familial Undercurrents:Untold Stories of Love and Marriage in Modern Iran


Afsaneh Najmabadi

Francis Lee Higginson Professor of History and of Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality, Emerita

Leila Pourtavaf

Assistant Professor of Global Public History, York University

Mohamad Tavakoli-Targhi

Director, Elaheì Omidyar Mir-Djalali Institute of Iranian Studies

Friday, 21 October 2022, 01:00 PM Eastern Time (Canada and the US)

In-person Meeting:

William Doo Auditorium45 Willcocks Street, Toronto, ON, M5S 2H3

Online Registration


After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.


In Familial Undercurrents, Najmabadi uncovers her family’s complex experiences of polygamous marriage to tell a larger story of the transformations of notions of love, marriage, and family life in mid-twentieth-century Iran. She traces how the idea of “marrying for love” and the desire for companionate, monogamous marriage acquired dominance in Tehran’s emerging urban middle class. Considering the role played in that process by late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century romance novels, reformist newspapers, plays, and other literature, Najmabadi outlines the rituals and objects—such as wedding outfits, letter writing, and family portraits—that came to characterize the ideal companionate marriage. She reveals how in the course of one generation, men’s polygamy had evolved from an acceptable open practice to a taboo best-kept secret. At the same time, she chronicles the urban transformations of Tehran and how its architecture and neighborhood social networks both influenced and became emblematic of the myriad forms of modern Iranian family life.


October 21, 2022
1:00 pm - 3:00 pm EDT