Iran

Rebecca Cruise and Suzette Grillot talk about the first woman to win math’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize, and North Korea’s missile test this week as Pope Francis visits South Korea.

Later, a conversation with classical Persian scholar Austin O’Malley. He says the language’s stability drew him to study centuries-old Near Eastern poetry.

International Mathematical Union (IMU)

An Iranian-born Stanford University professor is the first woman to win math's highest honor, the Fields Medal.

The International Mathematics Union awarded the prize Wednesday to Maryam Mirzakhani and three others.

Wikimedia Commons

When Austin O’Malley decided to take a Persian class during his last year of college, he had no idea it would become his life-long passion.

“I got a taste for it,” O’Malley says. “And that was very exciting on a personal level, and also sort of enlightening when you start seeing how language or literature works.”

Joshua Landis joins Suzette Grillot for a conversation about the situation in Iraq and the U.S. response to the escalating violence by Sunni militants.

And Rebecca Cruise and University of Oklahoma Iranian Studies professor Afshin Marashi speak with Mohamad Tavakoli, a professor of history and Near and Middle Eastern civilizations at the University of Toronto. He studies Persianate society – arguing that in the pre-modern world, Iranians, the Ottoman Empire, the South Asian Indian Mogul empire, and even Central Asians all spoke a common language.

Nina Aldin Thune

Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, nationalism and colonialism created fixed borders between societies that otherwise shared common ethnic backgrounds, language, and culture.

If you separate the world by regions, India and Iran don’t initially appear to have much in common. But in the 1960s, University of Chicago historian Marshall Hodgson introduced the concept of Persianate society – arguing that in the pre-modern world, Iranians, the Ottoman Empire, the South Asian Indian Mogul empire, and even Central Asians all spoke Persian.

In the summer of 2009, three young Americans went for a hike. Shane Bauer and Sarah Shourd were living together in Syria, teaching and writing. Their friend Josh Fattal was visiting from the U.S. The three took a tour to a waterfall in the Kurdish highlands of Iraq, and as they hiked along a road that turned out to be the border with Iran, an armed man in uniform waved them over.

The next thing they knew, they had embarked on a two-year ordeal in the infamous Evin prison in Tehran. They join NPR's Renee Montagne to talk about their new memoir, A Sliver of Light.

Suzette Grillot and Joshua Landis discuss the ongoing conflict in Central African Republic, and why it seems reminiscent of the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

Later, a conversation with Iranian-American filmmaker Farzin Rezaeian. His documentary Iran: Seven Faces of a Civilization explores 7,000 years of history in his home country.

The Cyrus Cylinder maintains a record of Cyrus the Great's religious and political tolerance.
Pleia2 / Flickr Creative Commons

Iranian documentary filmmaker Farzin Rezaeian says Greek, Roman, and European history have overshadowed ancient Iranian history, yet there are valuable lessons from Iran’s past for today’s world.

“The idea of international law, the beginning of human rights as it’s first mentioned in the Cyrus Cylinder… this goes back to some 2,500 years ago, five hundred years before Jesus Christ was even born” Rezaeian says. “Unfortunately, we don’t hear about it.”

Joshua Landis and Suzette Grillot discuss the 2014 State of the Union address and some of the foreign policy objectives President Obama outlined in Tuesday night’s speech.

Later, a conversation about migration and identity with Iranian-American novelist Laleh Khadivi, and Palestinian-American poet and physician Fady Joudah.

President Obama delivers his 2014 State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress Tuesday, January 28, 2014.
The White House / YouTube

President Obama’s international outlook remains heavily oriented toward decreasing the U.S. military presence in the Middle East. In his State of the Union address, the president promised to declare an end to the 12-year war in Afghanistan.

Joshua Landis, the author of Syria Comment and the Director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, says President Obama’s address “claimed big successes” in a September Syria chemical weapons deal and a November interim agreement with Iran halting uranium enrichment programs in exchange for lifted sanctions.

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