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Roxanne Varzi is a writer, artist, filmmaker and anthropologist. She was Born in Iran to an American mother and Iranian father and migrated to the U.S shortly after the Iranian Revolution in 1979. In 1991 while on a year abroad at the American University in Cairo she returned to Iran for a short visit and found a country vibrantly alive with an exciting underground public culture. That short trip inspired her to return to Iran and live there for a year beginning a long set of journeys to Iran, the most recent of which was with her husband and three-year-old son who attended preschool there.

Varzi is currently an Associate Professor of Anthropology and Film and Media Studies, Persian Studies and Religious Studies. She has a Ph.D. in Social Cultural Anthropology from Columbia. She was the recipient of the first Fulbright to Iran since the Revolution, and the youngest Distinguished Senior Iranian Visiting Fellow at St. Antony’s College, Oxford University. She has also held a Woodrow Wilson Post-Doctoral Fellowship at New York University and a Markle Foundation New Media Fellow, at the Centre for Law, Media and Society, Wolfson College, Oxford University and sabbatical fellowships at the Wissenschaftskolleg/EUME and the Zentrum für Literatur- und Kulturforschung (The Center for Advanced Studies) in Berlin and at the IFK in Vienna, Austria.

Her writing has been published in The Annals of Political and Social Science, Feminist Review, Public Culture, American Anthropologist, Eastern Art Report and the London Review of Books. She has been quoted in the LA Times, New York Times, Chronicle of Higher. Her short stories have appeared in two anthologies of Iranian-American writing as well as The New York Press and in Anthropology and Humanism Quarterly for which she won a Short Story Award for Fiction.
She is the author of two books: Warring Souls: Media, Martyrdom and Youth in post-Revolution Iran, Duke University Press, 2006 and 2016 Independent Publishers Gold Medal Award-winning Novel Last Scene Underground: An ethnographic novel of Iran by Stanford University Press. Her film, Plastic Flowers Never Die, 2009 is distributed by Documentary Educational Resources and has been shown in Festivals all over the world. Her sound installation Whole World Blind premiered at Soundwalk in Long Beach, and was installed in Berlin, Paris, Philadelphia, San Francisco and is featured permanently at
Her video Installation Salton Sublime about finding the sublime among environmental degradation premiered in Berlin, Germany in 2017 and has been shown in the Miami Independent Film Festival and the Soundpedro sound installation festival in Los Angeles. Her second Documentary Film "Tehran Tourist" about observing Iran through the eyes of a three year old was premiered at UCI in 2018.
Continuing her theme of multimodal Anthropology, Roxanne is currently working on her first full length play "Splinters of a Careless Alphabet" that so far has been workshopped at the 117th American Anthropological Association in San Jose, CA, the Hopscotch Reading Room in Berlin, Germany, and UCI's Claire Trevor School of the Arts. The latter was a stage reading directed by Elina De Santos of the Rogue Machine Theatre of Los Angeles. An abridged version of the play was published in July 2019 in the Journal of Comparative and Continental Philosophy under the title Act One to The End: Ask the Ayatollah. During the COVID-19 period, she has continues to write new work. If you are an actor or are involved in theater and would be interested in collaborating, please contact Roxanne via the contact page of this website.


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