UC San Diego SearchMenu

Babak Rahimi

Ph.D. (European University Institute)

Associate Professor of Communication, Culture and Religion

Primary Office: LIT 324
Primary Phone: Contact Department
Quarterly Office Hours

Email: brahimi@ucsd.edu

Director: Third World Studies Program

Shi'i Islam; Medieval and (early) modern history, information communication technologies (ICTs), social media, public sphere, civil society, theories of modernity.

Babak Rahimi is Associate Professor of Communication, Culture and Religion at the Department of Literature, University of California, San Diego. He earned his PhD from the European University Institute, Florence, Italy, in October 2004. Rahimi has also studied at the University of Nottingham, where he obtained an M.A. in Ancient and Medieval Philosophy (1997), and the London School of Economics and Political Science, where he was a Visiting Fellow at the Department of Anthropology, 2000-2001. Rahimi’s research examines the relationship between culture, religion and politics. His book, Theater-State and Formation of the Early Modern Public Sphere in Iran: Studies on Safavid Muharram Rituals, 1590-1641 C.E. (Brill 2011), studies the relationship between ritual, public space and state power in early modern Iranian history. His work has appeared in Thesis Eleven: Critical Theory and Historical Sociology, International Political Science Review, The Communication Review, the Journal of the International Society for Iranian StudiesRahimi has been an expert guest on various media programs like The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, BBC  and CNN, in addition to NPR and On the Media. Also, he has been a visiting scholar at the Internet Institute, University of Oxford, Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies, Freie Universität Berlin, and the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. Rahimi has also been the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and Jean Monnet Fellowship at the European University Institute, and was a Senior Fellow at the United States Institute of Peace, Washington DC, 2005-2006. His current research project is on the relationship between digital culture, politics and religion.



  • Theater State and the Formation of Early Modern Public Sphere in Iran: Studies on Safavid Muharram Rituals, 1590-1641 C.D., Brill, 2011.

  • Co-edited with David Faris, Social Media and Iran, State University of New York Press, December 2015.

Selected articles

Communication and Media

  • “Rethinking Digital Technologies in the Middle East,” International Journal of the Middle East Studies, vol. 47, 2, 2015, pp. 362-365.

  • “The State of (digital) Exception: the case of Internet Censorship In Iran” State Power and Information Infrastructure. Muzammil M. Hussain and Philip Howard, editors, Ashgate, 2014.

  • “Satirical Cultures of Media Publics in Iran,” International Communication Gazette, vol. 77, no. 3, April 2015.

  • “The Agonistic Social Media: Cyberspace in the Formation of Dissent and Consolidation of State Power in Post-Election Iran,” The Communication Review  14:158-178, 2011.

 Culture and Sociology

  • “Subaltern Modernity: Mediated Experience, Ritualization and Becoming Modern in the Arab-Iranian Community of Bushehr,” Social Theory and Regional Studies in the Global Age, Said Arjomand, editor, Global/Local Studies, SUNY Press, 2014.

  • “Facebook Iran. The Carnivalesque Politics of Online Social Networking,” Sociologica: The Italian Journal of Sociology, A. Salvatore, editor, 5, 3: 2012


  • “Maydan Naqshe Jahan: Politics of Urban Design under Shah Abbas I,” in Courts and Performance, Maurice Pomerantz (ed), New York University Press, 2016.

  • “The Qajar Theater State: The Takiy-eh Dawlat of Tehran” in Performing the Iranian State, Anthem Press, Staci Scheiwiller, editor, 2013.

  • “Eating the Nahil: The Politics of the Ottoman Circumcision Ceremonies" in Ottoman Tulips, Ottoman Coffee: Leisure and Lifestyle in the Eighteenth Century, Dana Sadji, editor, London: I.B. Tauris, March 2007.

Political Science

  • “Authority and Democracy in Shi‘i Islamic Jurisprudence: Montazeri, Sistani and Democratic Usulism” International Political Science Review, 2012.


  • “Exodus in Islam: Citatinality and Redemption,” Israel’s Exodus in Transdisciplinary Perspective: Text, Archaeology, Culture, and Geoscience, Tom Levy, ed., Ashgate, 2015.

  • “Contentious Legacies of Ayatollah Khomeini,” Critical Introduction to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Arshin Adib-Moghaddam, editor, University of Cambridge Press, 2014.