Professor of History Wins Prestigious Iran World Book Award

Susan Mokhberi’s The Persian Mirror recognized as a significant contribution to Iranian scholarship. 

March 29, 2022

By Jonathan Kroberger

Susan Mokhberi, associate professor of history at Rutgers University–Camden, has been awarded the prestigious 2022 Iran World Book Award at the 39th Annual Iran Book of the Year Awards. Her book, The Persian Mirror: Reflections of the Safavid Empire in Early Modern France, explores how Persia shaped the identity of 17th-century France and sheds new light on the complexity of early European relationships with Asian countries.

“It’s very exciting,” said Mokhberi. “I tried my best to bridge my knowledge of both France and Iran, so it is really wonderful to have it recognized by Iranian scholars as a significant contribution to Iranian history.”

Book of the Year Awards are considered Iran’s most prestigious literary award. The Iran World Book Award is given to the best scholarship on Islamic Studies or Iranian Studies published outside of Iran. Mokhberi’s book was chosen out of a field of over 1600 submissions from around the globe.

The Persian Mirror brings to life a fascinating era in French history, painting a bold and engaging picture of how 17th-century Parisians became fascinated by Persian culture. It was a time when Persian art and travelogues exploded in popularity, inspiring cultural trends in fashion, politics, law and the very definition of luxury for the French elite.

The book has been called “a must-read” by the journal French History, which said, “Mokhberi’s work is outstanding…one of its strongest merits is to have been able to capture the oft-invisible presence of women in early modern diplomacy and East-West relations.”

“The story of early modern diplomacy tends to be about men,” said Mokhberi. “Women actually did play an important role in both European and Islamic diplomacy. Women played a significant role in intermediating the relationship between France and Iran, and it was a goal to include women in a history that they are normally excluded from.”

Mokhberi is a historian of early modern France with a focus on European contacts with the world. In 2010, she received her Ph.D. from UCLA in early modern European history, and she came to Rutgers–Camden in 2013. She received a Rutgers Research Council Award in 2015 to begin research for the book, and went on to receive another in 2018. She has been the recipient of several generous grants, including a Fulbright Award.

Mokhberi is currently using her 2021 Rutgers Global Research Grant to expand the scope of her research, collaborating with scholars from around the world to further investigate the history of how various European states formed different perceptions of places around the world.

“Instead of saying all Europeans shared a similar approach toward foreigners, what we’re exploring is how the French had different particular goals than, for example, the Habsburgs,” said Mokhberi. “It will be a continuation of what I began in The Persian Mirror.”

A ceremony celebrating the winners of the Iran Book of the Year Awards took place on Tuesday, March 15 at Vahdat Hall in Tehran.

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