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Hamid Kolahdouz-Isfahani

1. What do you do at your present job?

I am a history PhD student and Teaching Assistant at UC Davis with a focus on the Safavi Empire and the wider early modern Persianate and Turkic speaking world. Naturally, my job entails a massive amount of reading, writing and use of analytical skills.

2. How did your education at UC Davis prepare you for your job?

My undergrad education at UC Davis in the MESA and history departments completely set the academic basis that I needed to first get into a PhD program and then succeed within it. So far the amazing education I received in the MESA field has allowed me to work right alongside older students who came into our grad program with a masters degree in history. The prerequisites to graduate with a MESA major provides a firm basis for any student to continue their education at the graduate level. For example, the Farsi and Arabic classes offered through the department were especially critical in developing my ability to properly read and understand early modern Iranian literary and historical texts.

3. Are there any classes or programs you found particularly helpful?

The most inspiring classes I took within the program were taught by a visiting Palestinian Professor from Bir Zeit University, Dr. Majid Shihade. The most influential of these classes analyzed settler colonialism in Palestine in comparison to other examples of the cruel phenomena in the US, Australia, amongst others. The class introduced me to great works of political art developed by the Palestinian film industry as well as to important, but often forgotten, historical pieces. Similarly inspiring was the class taught on the parallel catastrophe and ethnic cleansing which took place in the 1947 South Asia. That class, taught by Dr. Nicole Raganath, highlighted both the specific history of the tragedy and how emotionally raw Partition is in the minds of many South Asian families. It is disturbing to know that South Asia was literally ripped apart during the lives of our classmates’ grandparents. Perhaps the most important class for my own future research was MSA 100 taught by my own PhD advisor, Dr Ali Anooshahr. This comparative class analyzes three early modern empires in the Persianate and Turkic speaking worlds. This historical framework of studying and contextualizing the Islamic gunpowder empires along side one another provides the basis for my research moving forward.

4. What advice do you have for current students?

I would advise current undergrad students to truly embrace the great academic opportunities provided by the MESA department and affiliated faculty at UCD. There will likely never be another equal opportunity in your lives to learn so much.