New York, 24 Dec. (IPS) The Middle East Studies Association of North America (MESA), the most prestigious association of universities, faculty and researchers involved in Middle Eastern Studies in the United States, added a new award to its list, the “Houshang Pourshariati Book Award in Iranian Studies”.
Named after the veteran Iranian journalist Houshang Pourshariati, the Award bears a prize of 2.500 US Dollars offered by the late journalist’s family.
The inauguration of the new Award was announced by Professor Juan Cole, the incumbent president of MESA during the “Presidential Address and Awards Ceremony” held on 20 November 2005 and attended by close to a 1000 members.
The MESA has a membership of close to 3000 of various universities, centres, and individuals concentrating on Middle Eastern studies.
Professor Richard Bulliet of Columbia University announced during the ceremony that the first “Houshang Pourshariati Award in Iranian Studies” went to the prolific scholar of pre-Islamic Iranian Studies, Professor Shapur Shahbazi of the Eastern Oregon University.
It is hoped that the establishment of the “Houshang Pourshariati Award in Iranian Studies,” will be a milestone in further promoting Iranian culture and history in the western world.
According to professor Bulliet, besides numerous books on pre-Islamic Iranian history and culture, professor Shahbazi’s half a century of contributions to Iranian Studies include more than “140 articles and book chapters, a third of them in the “rigorously scholarly Encyclopaedia Iranica,” where he has also served as Associate Editor to Professor Ehsan Yarshater, the long time friend and colleague of Professor Shahbazi and the Chief Editor of the Encyclopaedia Iranica.
In this ceremony, Professor Ali Banuazizi of Boston University and the current president of MESA, read a biography of the late Iranian journalist and explained that from now on, each year a committee selected by MESA and made up of scholars specializing in Iranian studies, will oversee the “Houshang Pourshariati Book Award in Iranian Studies”, where the prize will go to the best book published in Iranian studies in that year.
Other speakers hoped that the establishment of the “Houshang Pourshariati Award in Iranian Studies,” will be a milestone in further promoting Iranian culture and history in the western world.
A much respected journalist for his professionalism, but also his struggle for the defence of the rights of Iranian newsmen and media – he was one of the founders of the first Union of Iranian Journalists, established in the sixties -- Mr. Pourshariati died last year in New York of cancer at the age of 71.
Born in Iran, he started his activities as a career journalist with the Etela’at publications, the oldest of quality Iranian newspapers, where he became Deputy Chief Editor and Editor of Home Desk before joining the newly created morning daily Ayandegan.
He served as the General Director of the official Pars News Agency during the difficult time of the Islamic Revolution and left Iran for the United States, from where he continued his journalist activities, including the serialisation of his memories, published by the London-based “Nimrooz”, the largest circulation of all Iranian media outside Iran. ENDS POUSHARIATI AWARD 231204