Research interests: Comparative politics and international relations of the Middle East and North Africa; hybrid regimes; Iranian state and society; Islam and politics; political economy; civil society; and democratization.
Dr. Payam Mohseni is the Director of the Project on Shi'ism and Global Affairs at Harvard University's Weatherhead Center for International Affairs and manages Visions, Harvard's premier online publication on all matters pertaining to global Shi'ism. He is also a Lecturer in the Department of Government at Harvard University and served as a Lecturer on Islamic Studies at the Harvard Divinity School. At Harvard, he teaches on Iranian and Middle East politics as well as Islam and is a multiple recipient of the Harvard Excellence in Teaching award. Dr. Mohseni is an active term member at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in New York and also a Faculty Affiliate of the Program in Islamic Law at the Harvard Law School (HLS) and the Center for Middle Eastern Studies (CMES) at Harvard University.
Dr. Mohseni’s research focuses on comparative political institutions, Iranian foreign and domestic politics, Shi'a thought and identity, Islam and sectarian conflict in the Middle East, and the politics of authoritarianism and hybrid regimes cross-regionally. In particular, his research has contributed to the field of political institutions and comparative regime studies, specifically regarding the conceptualization of hybrid regimes and tutelary institutions, and on theoretical questions of authoritarian resurgence and democracy resistance, the institutional impact of ideology and religion, and the political economy of development in non-democratic settings. His latest research also explores the evolving contemporary dynamics of interconnected Shi’a political movements in the Middle East, the role of non-state actors in the region, and Middle East security.
Dr. Mohseni is fluent in Persian and travels frequently to Iran and the region. As an academic scholar who also engages with current global affairs and the policy-making community, his analysis on Iranian politics, the US-Iran nuclear stalemate, sectarian violence, and other prominent issues of Middle East security has been featured in The New York Times, Foreign Affairs, Washington Post, The National Interest, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Bloomberg, U.S. News and World Report, and MSNBC, among others, including prominent international and Iranian media outlets.
Dr. Mohseni previously served as the Director of the Iran Project at the Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and co-chaired Harvard’s Iran Working Group with Professor Graham Allison which hosted prominent U.S. and international scholars and policy-makers focusing on the Iranian nuclear negotiations and regional issues. He was additionally the Editor-in-Chief of the Belfer Center’s Special Initiative Iran Matters, an online publication on contemporary Iranian affairs. At the Harvard Kennedy school, Dr. Mohseni hosted dozens of events on Iran and the Middle East for the Harvard University community including an international symposium on Islam and sectarianism in the Middle East, established a pre- and post-doctoral fellowship program for rising scholars working on important aspects of Iranian affairs, and oversaw the publication of over 100 op-eds, journal articles, and reports produced by the Iran Project and its affiliates at the Belfer Center.
Dr. Mohseni also co-chaired Harvard’s Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies Study Group on the Eastern Mediterranean and Europe from 2014 to 2016. Prior to that, he was a postdoctoral Research Fellow with the Harvard Belfer Center's International Security Program, a Junior Research Fellow at the Crown Center for Middle East Studies at Brandeis University, and a member of the Iran Study Group at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) in Washington, D.C. He holds a Ph.D. in Government from Georgetown University, an M.A. in Conflict, Security, and Development from the Department of War Studies at King’s College London, and a B.A. in Development Studies from the University of California, Berkeley.
Cambridge, MA 02138