UWM professor honors legacy of former student with posthumous book publication
Milwaukee is home to a community of students from across the globe, including a number of Iranian students, brought here through their connections to the community and their desire to learn. Dr. Ashkan Rezvani Naraghi was one of these students.
Rezvani Naraghi earned a PhD at UW-Milwaukee’s Urban Studies program, under the direction of Jennifer Jordan, a professor of sociology and urban studies. He then returned to Iran to work as an assistant professor at the University of Tehran and continued his work on a book about the social history of the city. Then, in 2020, Rezvani Naraghi died in an avalanche while mountain climbing.
When Jordan heard the news, she knew she wanted to honor his life and find a way to commemorate his work for his young family. She began working to publish his book, called A Social History of Modern Tehran: Space, Power, and the City, and after two years of work, the book was published this past month.
Jordan describes Rezvani Naraghi as "a very unique and special person who was uniquely kind and curious and passionate about the world." As an Iranian native, she says he was very interested in studying social movements in Iran and neighboring countries. Due to social concerns, the method and procedures for conducting his research had to be carefully thought-out.
Jordan says Rezvani Naraghi had access to sources that most scholars in the West don't have access to and was able to uncover powerful stories about how Iranian cities, including Tehran, changed in the 19th and 20th centuries.
After his death, Jordan says she was determined to have Rezvani Naraghi's book published, wanting a tangible way to support his family and honor his work. "I was too far away to be of any real assistance to his widow and to their son and their baby girl that was about to be born. So I couldn't offer material assistance or direct emotional assistance," she shares.
Jordan believes the publishing of Rezvani Naraghi's book will help his work and legacy be remembered. While describing the impact of the book, she says, "First, the book really it's dedicated to his children and [is] in a way, the main reason for me to work on it was so they could hear his voice later on when they're older."
She continues, "I think that that was one of Ashkan's gifts, too, was really understanding the importance of community and the ways in which people come together. And using the kind of careful historical research to understand the past in ways that make us understand the present and formulate even better questions about the present that we inhabit as well."