Mehrdad Alipour

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College: College of Social Sciences and International Studies
Discipline: Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies
Department: Islamic Studies

I am currently a PhD candidate at the University of Exeter, Department of Arab and Islamic Studies. I hold a Ph.D. in Comparative Philosophy from the University of Qom (Center of Tarbiat Modarris) in Iran (2007) and I also pursued the study of Islam traditionally at the Seminary (Ḥawzah) of Qom for eighteen years. From 2008 to 2013, I was Assistant Professor at the Department of Philosophy of Social Sciences at the Research Institute for Social Sciences and Islamic Studies in Iran. During that time, I was also at McGill University (department of philosophy) as a visiting scholar (March 2010 - February 2012). 

My academic career has been divided equally between Philosophy and Islamic Studies. I received my first Ph.D. in Comparative Philosophy, and my dissertation explored epistemic justification with a focus on Roderick Chisholm's concept of Foundationalism. In terms of Islamic studies, I have studied Shīʿī Law and Legal Theory (Uṣūl al-fiqh), as well as Islamic Philosophy (Ḥikma) at the Seminary of Qom. My research, teaching, and publishing deal primarily with legal theory and philosophy, particularly the so-called Philosophy of Illumination of Suhrawardī (d. 1191 CE), and the philosophy of mind (nafs) of Afḍal al-Dīn Kāshānī (d. c. 1213-4) and Mullā Ṣadrā (d. 1640). One of my scholarly monographs, entitled Ḥikmat-i Ishrāq-i Suhrawardī (The Philosophy of Illumination of Suhrawardī), received the prestigious Fārābī International Award in Iran, in 2013.  

Since 2013, my research interest have shifted to gender and sexuality studies (with a focus on Islam). From 2014-16, I was affiliated to the NWO (Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research) funded project ‘Contested privates: the oppositional pairing of religion and homosexuality in contemporary public discourse in the Netherlands’, run by Prof. R. Ruard Ganzevoort and Prof. Anne-Marie Korte (hosted by VU Amsterdam and Utrecht University). In 2015-16, I was awarded the Scholar at Risk research fellowship at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (NIAS) to continue my study of the subject. In 2016-17, I was affiliated to Utrecht University’s Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies as a visiting researcher, on the invitation of Prof. Christian Lange. Overall, during the last five years, I have been working on the subject of Islamic tolerance and gender and sexual diversity (with a focus on transgenderism, homosexuality and bisexuality). The aim of this research has been to examine the hypothesis that cohesion between Islamic sources and Muslim cultures and transgenderism and same-sex desires and acts can be explained in terms of a paradigm shift in ijtihād, the theory of Islamic toleration, and Islamic diversity. The results of my research by far have been published in journals and have been presented at various conferences, details of which can be found in my CV.