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
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.
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
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
World Blind premiered at Soundwalk in Long Beach, and
was installed in Berlin, Paris, Philadelphia, San Francisco and is featured
permanently at Publicbooks.org.
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
her theme of multimodal Anthropology, Roxanne is currently working on
her first full length play "Splinters of a Careless Alphabet"
that continues to be workshopped beginning with the 117th American Anthropological
Association in San Jose, CA and the Hopscotch Reading Room in Berlin,
Germany. An abridged version of the play was published in July 2019 in
the Journal of Comparative and Continental Philosophy under the title
One to The End: Ask the Ayatollah. Plans are at work thanks to grants
from UCI to develop the play further. If you are an actor interested in
the project, contact Roxanne via the contact page of this website.