WEBSITE(S)| Farshid Emami

Farshid Emami is a historian of Islamic art and architecture with a focus on the early modern period and particularly Safavid Iran. Trained as an architect and urban designer, he completed his Ph.D. in History of Art and Architecture at Harvard University. His book manuscript offers a new narrative of architecture and urbanism in seventeenth-century Isfahan, the Safavid capital, through the analytical lens of urban experience. Drawing on unstudied primary sources, the book takes the reader on journeys through Isfahan’s markets, gardens, and coffeehouses, analyzing how the city fostered new human experiences and became a setting for fashioning selves.

Besides his publications on Safavid art and architecture, Farshid Emami has written on a range of topics in art and architectural history, including lithographic printing in the nineteenth century and modernist architecture and urbanism in the Middle East. His articles have appeared in the Muqarnas, Metropolitan Museum Journal, Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies, South Asian Studies, and International Journal of Islamic Architecture.

Selected Articles and Essays

“Inviolable Thresholds, Blessed Palaces, and Holy Friday Mosques: The Sacred Topography of Safavid Isfahan,” in The Friday Mosque in the City: Liminality, Ritual, and Politics, ed. A. Hilâl Ugurlu and Suzan Yalman (Bristol: Intellect, 2020), 159–95.

“All the City’s Courtesans: A Now-lost Safavid Pavilion and its Figural Tile Panels,” Metropolitan Museum Journal 54 (2019): 62–86.

“Royal Assemblies and Imperial Libraries: Polygonal Pavilions and their Functions in Mughal and Safavid Architecture,” South Asian Studies 35, no. 1 (2019): 63–81.

“Discursive Images and Urban Itineraries: Literary Form and City Experience in Early Modern Iran,” Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies 18, no. 3 (2018): 154–186.

“The Lithographic Image and its Audiences,” in Technologies of the Image: Art in 19th-Century Iran, ed. David J. Roxburgh and Mary McWilliams (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Art Museums, 2017), 55–79.

“Coffeehouses, Urban Spaces, and the Formation of a Public Sphere in Safavid Isfahan,” Muqarnas: An Annual on the Visual Culture of the Islamic World 33 (2016): 177–220.

“Urbanism of Grandiosity: Planning a New Urban Centre for Tehran (1973–1976),” International Journal of Islamic Architecture 3, no. 1 (2014): 69–102.

Research Areas

Art and Architecture of the Islamic World


Ph.D. Harvard University

M.S. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

M.A. University of Tehran

B.A. Shahid Beheshti University

Honors & Awards

2017–2018 - Andrew M. Mellon Fellowship, Metropolitan Museum of Art

2014–2015 - Frederick Sheldon Traveling Fellowship, Harvard University

2011–2013 - Presidential Scholar Fellowship, Harvard University


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