10 Songs that Define Modern Iran


What 10 songs define modern Iran? I know many of you are interested in the music that I write about in my book “Soundtrack of the Revolution: The Politics of Music in Iran.” So I’ve put together a podcast. I tried to choose songs that speak to the most important political and cultural currents in post-revolutionary Iran. But also songs that just tell us what life has been like in Islamic Iran. So on the one hand I have, for example, a track that audiences have turned into the most recognizable ritual of protest, but also a song that was played at every birthday party in 1980s Iran. What would your 10 songs be? Share with me here or on the Soundtrack of the Revolution Facebook page.

Winner of the Malcolm H. Kerr Dissertation Award in the Humanities

I am absolutely elated that after winning the Brismes Award, my dissertation has also won the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) Malcolm H. Kerr Dissertation Award in the Humanities. The award ceremony was held at MESA in D.C. on Sunday, 23 November, and it was wonderful to celebrate with my supervisor Dr. Walter Armbrust and old friends. Here is what the MESA judges said about my work:

Dr. Siamdoust’s “Iran’s Troubled Tunes” is a very well written and theoretically sophisticated dissertation, which bridges politics, history, culture, and ethnomusicology. The author has done a considerable amount of fieldwork in Tehran and gained access to many important musicians. Siamdoust is highly successful in blending short biographical sketches with a skillful and nuanced discussion of music and politics. More than an erudite work of scholarly excellence, it has the prospect of evolving into something that a much wider audience would find enjoyable and illuminating.

Here the links to the MESA website:



The MESA Dissertation Awards were established in 1982 to recognize exceptional achievement in research and writing for/of dissertations in Middle East studies. In 1984 the award was named for Malcolm H. Kerr to honor his significant contributions to Middle East studies. Awards are given in two categories: Social Sciences and Humanities.

Winner of the BRISMES Leigh Douglas Memorial Prize

So pleased that my dissertation “Iran’s Troubled Tunes: Music as Politics in the Islamic Republic” was chosen as a joint-winner of the British Society for Middle Eastern Studies 2014 Leigh Douglas Memorial Prize for the best PhD dissertation on a Middle Eastern topic in the Humanities or the Social Sciences. And even more pleased with the anonymous judges’ generous comments on my work:


Siamdoust, Nahid Joint Prize Winner [£ 300 prize]
Iran’s troubled tunes: music as politics in the Islamic Republic (University of Oxford, 2013)

A real tour de force that breaks new ground in the study not simply of music in Iran, but also in the constitution and development of the public sphere in the Islamic Republic. Engaging fully in the theoretical debates that have characterised studies of cultural production and their link with various systems of power production,
the dissertation succeeds in using wholly original material effectively and well. The treatment of this material on a number of levels is thoughtful, sensitive and displays a finely attuned ear that can bring out the nuance of language, as well as musical genres…. The rich empirical material is wonderfully used, not merely to illustrate, but also to develop a set of arguments about culture and power, and about the political dynamics of contemporary Iranian society. The interpretative power of the dissertation lies in its ability to draw on a number of disciplines in order to set before the reader an enlightening thesis that restores to the study of Iranian society and
politics the full complexity that it truly merits.

The Leigh Douglas Memorial Prize

The Leigh Douglas Memorial Prize was established jointly in 1986 by the Leigh Douglas Memorial Fund and BRISMES in memory of Dr Leigh Douglas who was killed in Beirut in 1986.

The prize is awarded annually to the writer of the best PhD dissertation on a Middle Eastern topic in the Social Sciences or Humanities awarded by a British University.