Pardis Mahdavi is the dean of social sciences in The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and a professor in Arizona State University’s School of Social Transformation. Mahdavi has focused her academic career on diversity, inclusion, human trafficking, migration, sexuality, human rights, feminism and public health.
Mahdavi's approach to higher education has been informed by her personal journey as an Iranian-American woman growing up in the U.S., as well as her training as an anthropologist where she learned to be reflexive about complex power dynamics.
Mahdavi served as the director of the School of Social Transformation before appointment as dean in 2019. Prior to ASU, she was with the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver, where she served as acting dean. Before coming to Denver, she was at Pomona College from 2006-2017 where she most recently served as professor and chair of anthropology, director of the Pacific Basin Institute at Pomona College, as well as Dean of Women. Her research interests include academic freedom, diversity and inclusion in higher education, gendered labor, human trafficking, migration, sexuality, human rights, youth culture, transnational feminism and public health in the context of changing global and political structures. She has published five single-authored books and one edited volume in addition to numerous journal and news articles. She has been a fellow at the Social Sciences Research Council, the American Council on Learned Societies, Google Ideas, and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. She has consulted for a wide array of organizations including the U.S. government, Google Inc., and the United Nations. In 2012, she won the Wig Award for teaching at Pomona College.
Mahdavi's research interests include gendered labor, migration, sexuality, human rights, youth culture, transnational feminism and public health in the context of changing global and political structures. She is the author of four books: her first book, "Passionate Uprisings: Iran’s Sexual Revolution" was published with Stanford University Press in 2008, and her second book, "Gridlock: Labor, Migration and ‘Human Trafficking’ in Dubai," also Stanford University Press, was published in 2011. Mahdavi’s third book, entitled "From Trafficking to Terror: Constructing a Global Social Problem" was published by Routledge on October 1, 2013, and her fourth book, "Crossing the Gulf: Love and Family in Migrant Lives" also Stanford University Press was published in April 2016.