Afsaneh Rezaei

PhD Candidate & CFS Graduate Archivist
Afsaneh Rezaei is a PhD Candidate in Comparative Studies concentrating in Folklore. Afsaneh specializes in the Iranian contemporary culture, and is interested in the intersection of folklife, gender, religion, and politics. She has done research on a range of topics including political humor on social media, women’s vernacular religious rituals, and dynamics of agency in women’s personal narratives. Afsaneh is currently working on her dissertation based on a year of fieldwork in Southern California, focusing on Iranian-American women’s ritual performances and networks of sociability.

Research Interests

  • Folklore and New Media
  • Anthropology of the Middle East
  • Vernacular Religion
  • Feminist Folklore/Anthropology
  • Narrative Theory
  • Postcolonial Studies


  • Rezaei, Afsane. 2016, "The Superman in a Turban: Political Jokes in the Iranian Social Media,” New Directions in Folklore 14 (1/2): 89-132.

Selected Presentations

  • Invited Presidential Panel:“Her-Story II: A Feminism and Folklore Retrospective," and “Teaching Folklore at the Age of Trump.” American Folklore Society, Minneapolis, October 2017.
  • "Codes of Conduct and Negotiation of Community in the Iranian Domestic Rowze." Middle East Studies Association, Boston, November 2016.
  • “‘Sepandar-what?’ The Revival of the Ancient Persian Celebration of ‘Day of Love’” OSU/IU Student Conference in Folklore and Ethnomusicology, Columbus, April 2016.       
  • “‘My Stealthy Freedom’: Gender, Power, and Repositioning of the Self in Women’s Narratives of Public Unveiling in Iran.” American Folklore Society, Long Beach, CA, October 2015.
  • "Inverted Religious Orders and Hierarchies in Two Iranian Muslim Women's Rituals.” American Folklore Society, Providence, October 2013.

Selected Awards

  • Coca-Cola Critical Difference for Women Graduate Studies Grant for Research on Women, Gender, and Gender Equity, OSU Critical Difference for Women Program, 2017-18.
  • Post-candidacy Fellowship for Dissertation Fieldwork, OSU Center for Folklore Studies, 2017-18.
  • Polly Stewart Student Award, American Folklore Society’s Women’s Section, 2016.
  • Third Annual Bill Ellis Prize for best graduate student essay, American Folklore Society’s New Directions in Folklore Section, 2014.
Areas of Expertise
  • Feminist Folklore/Anthropology
  • Anthropology of the Middle East
  • Vernacular religion
  • Women and Islam
  • M.A., Folk Studies, Western Kentucky University
  • B.A., English Literature, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Iran

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