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Interdisciplinary Islamic Studies Seminar. "The Art of Forgiveness in Iranian Criminal Sanctioning."

Thursday, February 12, 2015
12:00 AM
1636 International Institute/SSWB, 1080 S. University

Iranian penal codes permit the family of the victim in homicide cases to pursue retributive sanctioning or forgo it. Despite penal codes that encourage reconciliation, the state has very little formal regulation over it. This difficult decision is left up to families. Over the years, however, numerous stake holders have emerged to attempt to bring about reconciliation and to persuade families of victims to forgo retribution. This lecture explores this unregulated spaces of "forgiveness work" that has emerged in the context of Iran's criminal sanctioning system. Through a study of a traveling theatrical production about capital punishment, this talk excavates the social, political, and religious contexts of this forgiveness work and explores its complex array of meanings and effects for the different parties involved.

Arzoo Osanloo is an associate professor at the University of Washington’s Law, Societies, and Justice Program. She holds a PhD in cultural anthropology from Stanford University and JD from American University, Washington College of Law. Her research and teaching focus on the intersections of law and cultural practice especially with respect to human rights. Her book, The Politics of Women’s Rights in Iran (Princeton University Press, 2009), analyzes the politicization of "rights talk" and women’s subjectivities in Iran. She is currently working on a second manuscript that examines the Islamic mandate of forgiveness, compassion, and mercy and how these ideas take shape within Iran’s criminal sanctioning system. Her publications appear in numerous edited volumes and peer-reviewed academic journals, including American Ethnologist, Cultural Anthropology, Political and Legal Anthropology Review, and Iranian Studies.