Dear UO Sociology Friends and Colleagues,
It is with much sadness and outrage that we must share the news that UO 1991 PhD Kavous Seyed-Emami died in an Iranian prison under suspicious circumstances. He was an accomplished and internationally acclaimed environmental activist. We are joining his family in demanding an autopsy and information about the circumstances of his death. We provide here links to some early articles about his death. Our hearts are with his family and close friends right now. The world has lost an important activist for environmental and human rights.
New York Times: “Death by Hanging in Tehran”
President, American Sociological Association
Kavous Seyed-Emami, 63, an Iranian-Canadian professor, who received his PhD in sociology from the University of Oregon, and who was to become one of Iran’s foremost environmentalists, died in Tehran’s Evin prison under suspicious circumstances on February 9, 2018. He was taken into custody along with other environmentalists around two weeks before, on January 24, 2018, and confined in Tehran’s Evin prison on charges of “espionage,” associated with the Iranian government’s current attempt to suppress civil dissent in response to recent protests. On February 9, his wife was notified that he had committed “suicide” while in custody and was deceased. According to the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran, he is the third leading activist to die in prison under similar suspicious circumstances in the last few weeks. Seyed-Emami’s family and environmental and human rights worldwide are calling for an independent autopsy and an international human rights investigation into the causes of his death.
Seyed-Emami, who had dual citizenship in Iran and Canada, received his PhD from the University of Oregon Department of Sociology in 1991. Upon completion of his dissertation he returned to Iran and taught Sociology and, particularly, Environmental Sociology at Immam Sadiq University, a major university in Tehran. He was the founder and managing director of the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation and one of the most famous and respected environmentalists in Iran. His life-long goal was to introduce Iranians to the natural world and its preservation. One of his most important projects was the conservation of the Asian Cheetah, an animal revered in Iran.
In our view as in the view of so many others around the world who knew him, it is simply impossible that Seyd-Emami could have committed suicide. The Iranian authorities have resisted requests for an independent autopsy. This has only heightened widespread suspicions that he was murdered to stop him from pursuing his conservation projects and as an attempt to intimidate the environmental movement and civil society movements more generally in Iran.
The Department of Sociology, faculty, students as well as former students, former faculty and graduate students demand that the Iranian authorities allow an independent autopsy. The causes of his death should be subjected to a full international human rights investigation. We request that the American Sociological Association write to the Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs and the U.S. State Department insisting that they lodge direct protests with the Iranian government calling for an international human rights investigation.
Ellen K. Scott
Head, Department of Sociology
CC: Executive Office, American Sociological Association
Canadian Sociological Association
American Association of University Professors
Chris Sinclair, President, University of Oregon Senate
Michael Schill, President, University of Oregon
Professor Raoul Liévanos co-authored an op-ed with with Lisa Arkin, executive director of Beyond Toxics, and David Vásquez, Associate Professor and Head of the UO English Department published in The Register Guard in December 2017. It is titled, “Farmworkers Deserve Better Pesticide Rules” and critiques the logic and process put forward by Oregon’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in its proposed “compliance alternative” to the 2015 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 100-foot pesticide application exclusion zone standard.
The Winter 2018 edition of Oregon Quarterly profiled Professor Jessica Vasquez-Tokos’ work on Mexican Americans, race, ethnicity, gender, and family. You can read more about her interests and intellectual trajectory here:
Professor CJ Pascoe provided her insights into the recent decision to allow girls to join the Boy Scouts in an interview with NPR affiliate KJZZ. The interview can be listened to here: https://kjzz.org/content/554527/sociology-professor-weighs-boy-scouts-decision-welcome-girls/
Professor Pascoe also gave an interview to Mel Magazine about sexual harassment and masculinity for their website, which can be read here: https://melmagazine.com/how-harvey-weinstein-justifies-sexual-harassment-with-progressive-politics-7dcb1f10b8af
“In Trump in the White House, John Bellamy Foster [UO Professor of Sociology] does what no other Trump analyst has done before: he places the president and his administration in full historical context. Foster reveals that Trump is merely the endpoint of a stagnating economic system whose liberal democratic sheen has begun to wear thin. Beneath a veneer of democracy, we see the authoritarian rule that oversees decreasing wages, anti-science and climate-change denialism, a dying public education system, and expanding prisons and military—all powered by a phony populism seething with centuries of racism that never went away.
But Foster refuses to end his book in despair. Inside his analysis is a clarion call to fight back. Protests, popular demands, coalitions:everyone is needed. Change can’t happen without radical, anti-capitalist politics, and Foster demonstrates that—even now—it may yet be possible to stop the desecration of the Earth; to end endless war; to create global solidarity with all oppressed people.”
To read more about Professor Foster’s latest book, and to order a copy for yourself, visit the Monthly Review Press website.
Graduate student Sarah Ahmed recently wrote about her research in rural Punjab, Pakistan for the Center for the Study of Women in Society’s Annual Review. Her article can be found here, beginning on page 25.
The Fund for Faculty Excellence supports the university’s strategic commitment to improving its academic quality and reputation by supporting, recognizing, and retaining world-class tenure-related faculty. These awards are made to professors who demonstrate quality of scholarship, contribution to their field and contribution to the university. Two Sociology professors, Kari Norgaard and Jessica Vasquez-Tokos were selected as 2017-18 FFE Award recipients. Congratulations!