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Dr. Ahmad Moradi


Visiting Scholar (Prof. Dr. Kresse)

Research on 'War as a Possibility of Inclusion: Afghan Disabled Ex-Combatants in Iran'

Dr. Ahmad Moradi’s research interests centre on questions of revolution, militancy and care in Iran and the wider MENA region. His PhD project explores Iran’s revolutionary politics and state-like interventions in urban low-income neighbourhoods, with a focus on the paramilitary organisation of the Basij. The monograph of this project titled Politics of Persuasion is under contract with Edinburgh University Press. As a follow-up research, Ahmad focused on the struggles of Shi’a foreign fighters and their families to demand state recognition and social welfare in Iran upon their return from conflicts in the region. Ahmad received his PhD from the University of Manchester in 2019. He has done a postdoc at École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, and is a visiting scholar at Freie Universität Berlin (2021–2023).


Academic Appointments

2021-2023 Visiting Scholar
Freie Universität Berlin

2019-2020 Postdoctoral fellow
École des hautes études en sciences sociales. Paris, France



2019 PhD in Social Anthropology
University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom                                         

2014 MA in Sociology and Social Anthropology
Central European University, Budapest, Hungary

2009 BA in Social Sciences, Anthropology
University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran


Grants, Scholarships & Awards

2021 Young Scholar Prize 2021
International Society for Ethnology and Folklore (SIEF)

2020 Grants for Contemporary Iranian Art
Iran Heritage Foundation

2019-2020 Postdoctoral Fellowship
École des hautes études en sciences sociales

 2018 Conference Organisation and Travel grant
Student Experience and Recruitment Budget (SERB, University of Manchester)

2014-2017 3 year PhD Studentship
University of Manchester, School of Social Sciences

2015 Fieldwork Bursary
University of Manchester

2012-2014 Student Full Fellowship
Central European University

2014 Fieldwork Bursary
Central European University

2010 Travel Grant and one month Training in Johannesburg
Academy for Educational Development (AED, United States)   


Professional Affiliations

European Association of Social Anthropologists

Association of Social Anthropoogists of the UK

British Society for Middle Eastern Society

Peace and Conflict Studies in Anthropology

International Society for Ethnology and Folklore

Care and state Network, University of Vienna

The New Art of Persuasion Network, University of Toronto

One of the unforeseen outcomes of the Arab Spring has been the emergence of Iran-backed foreign combatants, recruited to fight in the regional conflicts. Since 2011, Iran has dispatched thousands of Afghan refugees to Syria initially to quell mass discontent and later wage war against the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL). As the ISIL has suffered defeat and lost control over its territories, many of these refugee recruits are now returning to Iranian soil. Though viewed by Iranian state officials as sacrificers worthy of rewards, returning fighters face stringent medical and bureaucratic hurdles which severely restrict their access to decent levels of reparations. This research project focuses on the struggles of refugee ex- combatants and their families, demanding state recognition and social welfare as they rely upon martyrdom and disability as proof of their sacrificial loss. At the centre of this project is the notion of sacrificial loss, and it examines how loss is calculated, compensated and cared for at institutional level. It also studies how loss reinforces ideologies of kinship, through which Afghan disabled ex-combatants contest the boundaries of deservingness and modes of exclusion. Bringing together scholarship on Gender Studies, Medical Anthropology and Disability Studies, this project offers a unique interdisciplinary lens to the ‘risk of citizenship’ in the contemporary world, the same time as shedding new light on Islamic militancy beyond the Western discourse of terrorism and fundamentalism. 


Politics of Persuasion: Making and Unmaking Revolution in Iran.
Under contract with the Edinburgh University Press; Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies series. Editor: Nicola Ramsey.


Peer-Reviewed Articles & Chapters

The state of Debt: How to Measure the Value and Virtue of Disabled Veterans’ Sacrifice [In preparation]

(Un)compromised Methodology: Negative Empathy and the Weight of Complicity. [In preparation]

After Sacrifice: Hierarchies of loss and Veterans Classification in Iran. Sociologus [Under Review].

The contentious life of Basij’s revolutionary politics in poor neighbourhoods of Iran. Oxford Middle East Review. 2021. Volume. 5. No. 1, 82—88.

La milice révolutionnaire Bassidj dans les quartiers défavorisés Un paradoxe politique. Multitudes. 2021. No. 83, 86—93

“The Basij of Neighbourhood: Techniques of Government and Local Sociality.” In Urban Neighbourhood Formations: Boundaries, Narrations and Intimacies. Hilal Alkan & Nazan Maksudyan (eds). Routledge, Urban Studies series. March 2020.

The book chapter was awarded Young Scholar Prize 2021 from International Society for Ethnology and Folklore (SIEF).

Role of image in Narrating Social Issues of Iran: Report of an Experience. Quarterly of Analysing Social Issues in Iran [in Farsi], Fall 2010. Volume. 1 (No. 3), 21—41.


Invited Talks

Lecture in Prize Ceremony of SIEF Young Scholar Prize. University of Finnland. 21 June 2021.

“Extremely far & incredibly close: doing ethnography with militants amid rising pandemic and authoritarianism.” in Lecture series: « Off-site » : penser des pratiques ethnographiques sans présence sur le terrain. École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales. 1 April 2021.

Institut d'études avancées de Paris, discussant for the talk 'Care, Kinship, State: (Re)producing Belonging and Difference’ presented by Tatjana Thelen. 10 October 2020.

“Against Collaboration as a Method,” Postgraduate Showcase. University of Manchester. 16 June 2018

“Iranian Cinema: Production of Short Films and proliferation of Histories,” Kino Film Festival. Home Cinema. Manchester. United Kingdom. 23 November 2017.


Oragnized Panels

Care as act of Transgression. Société Internationale d´Ethnologie et de Folklore. Helsinki, Finland 21-24 June 2021

The will to be governed [Organiser and presenter]. Department of Social Anthropology, University of Manchester. 20- 21 March 2018.

Visiting Research Postgraduate Seminars [Co-Organiser and Presenter]. Department of Social Anthropology, University of Manchester. 2018-2019.

This series of seminars aimed to foster collegiality and mobility across social anthropology departments in the UK and Europe, giving post-graduate students the space and opportunity to discuss and develop articles and chapters for publication.

Selected Scholary Conferences

Arabischer Frühling 10 Jahre danach. University of Hamburg. 3 June 2021.

Vigilantism Resurrected. Anthropological Explorations of Violent Transfigurations of State, Crime & Politics across Contexts. Workshop organised in collaboration with the EASA network, Anthropology of Crime & Criminalisation (ANTHROCRIME). May 20-22, 2021

The Social Life of Care. University of Cambridge. Center For Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRRASH). 30 April 2021.

ASA2021: Responsibility. University of Saint Andrews. Association of Social Anthropologists of the UK. 30 March 2021.

The Living, Caring, and Networking of Diaspora in the Age of Uncertainty. The Center for Global Diaspora Studies of Chonnam National University. South Korea. January 2021.

Anthropology of State Performance, Kinship and Relatedness. Riga Stradiņš University. 5-6 July 2020.

New anthropological horizons in and beyond Europe. 16th European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA). 21-24 July 2020, Lisbon.

Mobilities and Care. Transformations of belonging and inequalities. 5th Vienna Ethnography Lab. Organised by Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology and the Department of Sociology at the University of Vienna. 2 – 4 July 2020.

International Workshop on the Iranian Revolution and its aftermath. Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS). Paris, France. 17-19 June 2020.

Endangered Fieldwork. A joint seminar with the Association of Social Anthropologists and the Royal Anthropological Institute. March 2020.

Joining The Dots: Interdisciplinarity in Middle East Studies, Brismess Conference, University of Leeds, 24—26 June 2019.

Reset Modernity! Teheran Perspective (Three-day interdisciplinary workshop with artists and scholars). University of Tehran. Department of Science at University of Tehran, and Pejman Foundation. Tehran. Iran. 27-30 April.

New Approaches to Studying the Middle East, The British Society for Middle Eastern Studies and the Department of Middle Eastern Studies at King’s College London, June 2018

Neighbourhoods at Times of Change and Crisis, Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient, Berlin, May 2018

Crosscurrents of Commensuration. Centre For Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities. Cambridge. 16-17 April, 2018.

Bodies in Transition: Power, Knowledge and Medical Anthropology, EASA Medical Anthropology Network, Biannual Conference Network Meeting, Lisbon, 2017

The Making of Peace, Conflict and Security: Dynamics of Inclusion and Exclusion, PACSA Meeting, Amsterdam, August 2017

SFB 1171 Affective Societies
Berlin Southern Theory Lecture