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Author Pardis Mahdavi in conversation with Steven Beschloss for her latest, Hyphen
ABOUT THE BOOK
Object Lessons is a series of short, beautifully designed books about the hidden lives of ordinary things.
To hyphenate or not to hyphenate has been a central point of controversy since before the imprinting of the first Gutenberg Bible. And yet, the hyphen has persisted, bringing and bridging new words and concepts.
Hyphen follows the story of the hyphen from antiquity-"Hyphen” is derived from an ancient Greek word meaning “to tie together” -to the present, but also uncovers the politics of the hyphen and the role it plays in creating identities. The journey of this humble piece of connective punctuation reveals the quiet power of an orthographic concept to speak to the travails of hyphenated individuals all over the world. Hyphen is ultimately a compelling story about the powerful ways that language and identity intertwine.
Mahdavi-herself a hyphenated Iranian-American-weaves in her own experiences struggling to find a sense of self amidst feelings of betwixt and between. Through stories of the author and three other individuals, Hyphen collectively considers how to navigate, articulate, and empower new identities.
Object Lessons is published in partnership with an essay series in The Atlantic.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Pardis Mahdavi, PhD is currently Dean of Social Sciences and Director of the School for Social Transformation at Arizona State University. Before coming to Arizona, she was Acting Dean of the Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver (2017-2019), after spending eleven years at Pomona College from 2006-2017 where she most recently served as professor and chair of anthropology and director of the Pacific Basin Institute at Pomona College as well as Dean of Women. Her research interests include gendered labor, human trafficking, migration, sexuality, human rights, transnational feminism, and public health in the context of changing global and political structures. She has published four single authored books and one edited volume in addition to numerous journal and news articles. She has been a fellow at the Social Sciences Research Council, the American Council on Learned Societies, Google Ideas, and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. In 2018 she was appointed by Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper and re-appointed by Governor Jared Polis to serve on the Colorado Commission on Higher Education.