Behdad, Ali


John Charles Hillis Professor of Literature
Kaplan 258
Tel: 310.825.4173 / Fax: 310.267.4339 / E-mail


  • B.A., University of California, Berkeley, 1983
  • M.A., University of Michigan, 1986
  • M.A., Middlebury College, 1988
  • Ph.D., University of Michigan, 1990


Postcolonial Literature and Theory; Literary and Cultural Theory; European Representation of the Middle East; Victorian Novel and Travel Literature; US Immigration History; 19th Century Photography of/in the Middle East.

Selected Works


Selected Articles and Book Chapters:

  • Le harem pluriel: Jean Geiser and Photographic Orientalism,” Yale French Studies, (Special Issue on: “Photography and the Body in Nineteenth-Century France), edited by Raisa Rexer and Anne E. Linton, Number 139 (Summer 2021), pp. 119-133.
  • “On Vernacular Portrait Photography in Iran,” Imagining Everyday Life: Engagements with Vernacular Photography, edited by Tina M. Campt, Marianne Hirsch, Gil Hochberg, and Brian Wallis, The Walther Collection, Göttingen: Steidl, 2020, pp. 27-133—winner of 2020 Paris Photo-Aperture Foundation Photo Book Award.
  • “Orientalism and the History of Photography in the Middle East,” Inspired by the East: How the Islamic World Influenced Western Art (Exhibition Catalogue), London: British Museum Press, 2019, pp. 84-95.
  • “Orientalism and Middle East Travel Writing,” Orientalism and Literature, edited by Geoffrey P. Nash, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019, pp. 185-201.
  • “Mediated Visions: Early Photography of the Middle East and Orientalist Network,” History of Photography, Volume 41, Number 4, Fall 2017, pp. 362-375.
  • “Inhospitality, European Style: The Failures of Human Rights,” The Postcolonial World, edited by Jyotsna G. Singh & David D. Kim, New York: Routledge, 2017, pp. 291-307.
  • “The Power of ‘Light-Drawing’: On the Uses of Photography in Qajar Iran,” God is Light, edited by Sheila Blair & Jonathan Bloom, New Haven: Yale University Press, 2015, pp. 310-331.
  • “Royal Portrait Photography in Iran: Constructions of Masculinity, Representations of Power,” Ars Orientalis, Number 43, Fall 2013, pp. 32-45.
  • “What Can American Studies and Comparative Literature Learn from Each Other,” American Literary History,Volume 24, Number 3, Fall, 2012, pp. 608-817.
  • “Orientalism Matters,” Modern Fiction Studies, 56:4 (Winter 2011), pp. 709-728.
  • “Postcolonial Theory and the Predicament of “Minor Literature,” in Minor Transnationalisms, edited by Francoise Lionnet and Shu-mei Shih, (Durham: Duke University Press, 2005).
  • “On Globalization, Again,” in Postcolonialism and Beyond, edited by Suvir Kaul and Ania Lumba, (Durham: Duke University Press, 2005).
  • “Une Pratique Sauvage: Postcolonial Belatedness and Cultural Politics,” The Pre-Occupation of Postcolonial Studies Postcolonial, edited by Fawzia Afzal-Khan and Kalpana Seshadri-Crooks (Durham: Duke University Press, 2000).
  • “National Identity and Immigration: American Polity, Nativism, and the “Alien,” in Beyond Dichotomies, edited by Elisabeth Mudimbe-Boyi, (Buffalo: SUNY Press, 2000).
  • “The Powerful Art of Qajar Photography: Orientalism and (Self)-Orientalizing in Nineteenth-Century Iran,” special issue on “Representing the Qajars: New Research in the Study of 19th-Century Iran,” edited by Layla Diba, Journal of Iranian Studies, (2001).
  • “Founding Myths of the Nation, Or What Jefferson and Hamilton Forgot about Immigration,” Aztlan: A Journal of Chicano Studies,” (2001).
  • “Orientalist or Orienteur? Antoin Sevruguin and the Margin of Photography,” Sevruguin and the Persian Image, edited by Fredrick Bohrer, Washington, D.C.: Sackler Gallery Series, Smithsonian Museum, (1999).
  • “INS and Outs: Producing Delinquency at the Border,”Aztlan: A Journal of Chicano Studies, (Spring 1998).
  • Reflections on the Family Photos of Iranians in Los Angeles,” Suitcase (Summer 1997).
  • “Nationalism and Immigration in the United States,” in Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Studies, (1997).
  • “Eroticism, Colonialism, and Violence,” Identity, Violence and Self-determination, edited by Samuel Weber and Peter van der Veer, (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1997).
  • Border INSpection: Crossing the U.S. Border,” Centuries’ Ends, Narrative Means, edited by Robert Newman (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1996).

Interest Areas
• Postcolonial Theory / Transnational Studies
• Critical Theory
• American Literature & Culture