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Keddie, Nikki R. (1930–) - Middle Eastern History

university edited women studies

Nikki Keddie was born on August 30, 1930, in New York City, where she attended the City and Country School through grade eight and then Horace Mann-Lincoln High School. Her father, a business manager, and her mother, a translator, were both of Russian ancestry.

As an undergraduate Keddie attended Radcliffe College, where she received a bachelor’s degree in history and literature in 1951. She earned a master’s degree from Stanford University, also in 1951, and then a Ph.D. at the University of California at Berkeley in 1955. She taught at the University of Arizona at Tucson and Scripps College before joining the faculty of the University of California at Los Angeles, where she has taught since 1961. Since 1967 she has taught as visiting professor at Harvard University, the University of Rochester, the School of Advanced International Studies, and the University of Paris.

Keddie was motivated to become a historian out of her desire to understand how human societies worked without having to follow what she calls the “seeming rigidities of approach of the other social sciences.” Her accomplishments in Middle Eastern history make her a true leader in the field. She has written or edited eighteen books and nearly one hundred articles. Her most recent books include Iran and the Middle East: Resistance and Revolution (1995); Debates on Gender and Sexuality (1995), an edited collection; and Debating Revolutions (1995), an edited collection. Keddie has written about Iran, Nepal, Pakistan, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Egypt, Senegal, Sumatra, Tunisia, and Yemen. With Lois Beck, Keddie co-edited Women in the Muslim World (1978), a book that has had a significant impact on the study of women in the Middle East. Thirteen years later, in 1991, she co-edited, this time with Beth Baron, Women in Middle Eastern History: Shifting Boundaries in Sex and Gender , another groundbreaking work in the field.

Keddie has been named a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and has received fellowships from the Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundations and the American Association of University Women. She has served as president and on the board of directors of the Middle East Studies Association, on the board of directors of the Society for Iranian Studies, on the Iran Working Group for the Woodrow Wilson Center, on the editorial board of International Journal of Middle East Studies , as a consultant on Middle East educational material for the National Geographic Society, and as the founding editor of the journal Contention: Debates in Society, Culture, and Science .

Primary among Keddie’s hobbies is photography. She has held photographic exhibits on Morocco and Iran, and her work has been part of an exhibit on Yemen that began at the Smithsonian and traveled throughout the United States. She also enjoys painting and drawing, mainly in watercolors. She is interested in politics and current affairs and has particular concerns about the effects of economic globalization as income gaps and unemployment increase and the needs of children and their mothers are neglected.

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