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Heather Rastovac Akbarzadeh

Heather Rastovac Akbarzadeh rastovac
Personal bio
Heather Rastovac Akbarzadeh is the Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Dance Studies in/and the Humanities (2016 - 2018). She holds a Ph.D. in Performance Studies from the University of California, Berkeley with a Designated Emphasis in Women, Gender, and Sexuality. She received her B.A. from the University of Washington in Near Eastern Languages and Civilization (specializing in Persian language and literature) with minors in Dance and Anthropology. Heather’s research extends upon nearly two decades as a dancer, choreographer, and artistic director among diasporic Iranian communities in the U.S. Her dissertation, “Performing (Trans)National Iranianness: The Choreographic Cartographies of Diasporic Iranian Dancers and Performance Artists,” engages in ethnography, discourse analysis, and performance analysis to investigate the racialized and gendered economies of Iranian performance in transnational art markets and among diasporic audiences in North America and France. Her research examines Iranian artists’ performance works in relation to Euro-American geopolitics and (neo)liberal discourses on immigration, citizenship, and the global war on terror, analyzing how these discourses implicate and are shaped by Iranian dancing/performing bodies. Heather further surveys transnational reconfigurations of Orientalism in “World Dance” markets and representations of the Middle East and Islam in dance, performance, film, and popular culture. At UC Berkeley, Heather taught a wide range of undergraduate lecture and studio-based courses that draw from her interdisciplinary research interests, which include Critical Dance Studies, Performance Studies, Transnational and Postcolonial Feminist theories, Queer theory, Iranian & Middle Eastern Studies, Diaspora and Migration Studies, and Critical Ethnic Studies. Her forthcoming publications include a chapter in the Mellon Dance Studies anthology The Futures of Dance Studies, a chapter in Performing Iran: Cultural Identity and Theatrical Performance, and a commissioned book review in the Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies.

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