Skip to content
Who's in the Video
Vali Nasr is an Iranian-American political commentator and scholar of contemporary Islam. Born in Iran, Nasr and his family immigrated to the United States following the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Nasr[…]

Nasr as born and raised in Iran, and lived and studied in England and America.

Vali Nasr: I was born in Iran. I lived in Iran until I was 15, 16 years old before I went to school in England. And then the Iranian Revolution happened in 1979. My family left Iran, and I with them.

We settled in the United States in Boston. It was right about the time that I started my undergraduate studies at Tufts University. So the events of 1979 in Iran – the revolution; the explosion of Islamic politics in the Middle East at the time; the questions that Americans had about what happened in Iran; what was happening in the Middle East; why Islam had all of a sudden become so important – were very formative. Because in many ways I was impacted by that revolution immensely, and I was in American universities at a time when these questions were becoming increasingly more important.

Well my impressions were not so much shaped by my experiences in Iran, but rather experiences in England, because I went to school in England.

My school was like Harry Potter’s school. It was a boarding school with all those kinds of structures that are associated with English boarding schools. And I compare it constantly – the culture of teenagers, and youth, and academia, and what I knew of England – with America. And for me, the adjustment was not so much as a Middle Easterner coming to America, but as somebody who had gone to high school in England coming to America.

While we were in Iran, I always thought I might have a future in public life.

My father was an academic. He was also involved in public life in Iran.

But also once in America I gravitated much more towards an intellectual career. I knew from undergraduate years at Tufts that I wanted to be an academic. Intellectual questions, the idea of the Middle East, theoretical debates within comparative politics, history--they always fascinated me.

And also when you go to school in Boston, it’s very easy to lose sight of the real world, and to only think of a career that is focused on intellectual questions. And because I came also from a family of academics, it almost was much more natural for me to go down that road.

Recorded on: Dec 3, 2007


Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nullam id tincidunt mi. Morbi malesuada nulla sit amet est hendrerit tincidunt. Etiam viverra, nisl id volutpat eleifend, est augue sodales orci, […]