CNES receives gift to create global Iranian diaspora program

Credit: Judson Moore via Unsplash.



CNES receives gift to create global Iranian diaspora program

The program will draw on UCLA's extensive multidisciplinary expertise on Iran, the Middle East and migration studies to promote scholarship on the Iranian diaspora comparable in scope to current scholarship on the global Chinese and South Asian diasporas.

UCLA International Institute, August 10, 2021 — Farhad Fred Ebrahimi and Mary Wilkie Ebrahimi have pledged a $410,000 gift to the UCLA Center for Near Eastern Studies (CNES) to create the Ebrahimi Program on Iranian Diaspora in Global Perspective.

The program will support a major migration studies conference on the global Iranian diaspora, fellowships for UCLA graduate students conducting research on the topic and a feasibility study of a future large-scale survey of the Iranian diaspora in the United States.

“The Center for Near Eastern Studies is sincerely grateful to Mr. and Mrs. Ebrahimi for their generous gift,” said Ali Behdad, CNES director and John Charles Hillis Professor of Literature at UCLA.

“The story of Iranian immigration — particularly to the U.S. — has yet to be told,” said Behdad. “The contemporary Iranian diaspora is vast and heterogeneous. It includes academics like myself, successful entrepreneurs like Mr. Ebrahimi, as well as artists, doctors and other professionals who have profoundly enriched American society and beyond.”

“As proud alumni and members of the UCLA community, we are pleased to make this gift for the benefit of the Center for Near Eastern Studies,” said Mr. Ebrahimi on behalf of the couple. “It gives us great satisfaction to play a vital role in advancing UCLA’s mission of research, education and public service.”

After studying at MIT, Farhad Fred Ebrahimi attended UCLA as an engineering major from 1967 through 1969; Mary Wilkie Ebrahimi earned a master’s in education from UCLA 1970. Farhad went on to become the CEO, co-owner and then full owner of Quark, a publishing software company headquartered in Denver. For the past two decades, he and Mary have been deeply engaged in philanthropic work worldwide.

The Ebrahimi Program will draw on UCLA’s extensive multidisciplinary expertise on Iran, the Middle East and migration studies to promote scholarship on the Iranian diaspora comparable in scope to current scholarship on the global Chinese and South Asian diasporas.

Its activities will promote increased research, education and awareness about the Iranian diaspora and tell the story of its impact in a global context — both within and outside of academia. CNES envisions the program as laying the foundation for further collaboration in building the field of Iranian diaspora studies.

Cindy Fan, vice provost for international studies and global engagement at UCLA said, “The UCLA International Institute thanks the Ebrahimis for their timely gift. We are delighted that Bruin alumni are entrusting CNES and UCLA to put Iranian diaspora studies on the map.” 

“This gift will enable CNES scholars to draw on their expertise to expand knowledge about the global Iranian diaspora,” said Kevan Harris, associated faculty and assistant professor of sociology at UCLA. Harris is co-lead of the Iran Social Survey, a multiyear research project that is analyzing social and economic change in Iran through periodic nationwide surveys. He hopes to incorporate questions on migration and diasporic networks in a future survey as a first step toward mapping the global Iranian diaspora.

CNES and UCLA are located in the global city of Los Angeles, home to several thriving Persian neighborhoods, and part of the greater Southern California region, where the largest Iranian population in the United States lives. Many UCLA faculty, staff and students are of Iranian heritage.

The center looks forward to the program’s launch in 2022. Information on both the Ebrahimi Conference on Iranian Diaspora in Global Perspective and the application process for Ebrahimi Fellowships will be published on the CNES website by the end of this calendar year.



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Published: Tuesday, August 10, 2021

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