Mahdi Ganjavi


Excerpt from Sa’di, Gulistan. Painter (unknown). Date 1427, Chester Beatty Library, Dublin


The Franklin Book Programs (FBP) was a private not-for-profit U.S. organization founded in 1952 during the Cold War and was subsidized by the United States’ government agencies as well as private corporations. The FBP was initially intended to promote U.S. liberal values, combat Soviet influence and to create appropriate markets for U.S. books in ‘Third World’ of which the Middle East was an important part, but evolved into an international educational program publishing university textbooks, schoolbooks, and supplementary readings. In Iran, working closely with the Pahlavi regime, its activities included the development of printing, publishing, book distribution, and bookselling institutions.
This book uses archival sources from the FBP, US intelligence agencies and in Iran, to piece together this relationship. Put in the context of wider cultural diplomacy projects operated by the US, it reveals the extent to which the programme shaped Iran’s educational system. Together the history of the FBP, its complex network of state and private sector, the role of U.S. librarians, publishers, and academics, and the joint projects the FBP organized in several countries with the help of national ministries of education, financed by U.S. Department of State and U.S. foundations, sheds new light on the long history of education in imperialist social orders, in the context here of the ongoing struggle for influence in the Cold War.


Recently Published:

This two volume book is the first critical edition of Henriyah Translation‌ (tarjumah hinrīyah), the earliest Persian translation of “One Thousand and One Nights” (Maniahonar, 2022). Ganjavi has completed this critical edition based on two manuscripts of this translation. One is included in the Sir Edward Henry Whinfield Collection, which was bequeathed to the Indian Institute, Oxford, in 1922, and later transferred to the Bodleian Library. Today this manuscript is kept in the Bodleian Library with the reference number BP2531. The second copy of Henriyah Translation is held at Houghton Library, Harvard University (MS Persian 11). Its former owner had been Mary Pratt, who gifted it to Harvard College along with another 59 manuscripts of his brother, Herbert J. Pratt, back in 1915, a few months after the passing of Herbert.


Mahdi Ganjavi also edited and published Amir Hassanpour, The Peasant Uprising of Mukriyan 1952-1953: Consulate Documents, Diplomatic Correspondence, and the Press Coverage, Toronto: Asemana Books, 2022.

This book includes some of the documents held at Amir Hassanpour Fonds at University of Toronto Archives related to his research on the historiography of Mukriyan peasant uprising. In this sense, the volume can be seen in its relationship with another recent publication of the late Professor Amir Hassanpour, entitled The Peasant Uprising of Mukriyan 1952-1953 (Toronto: Iran Namag, 2021). The historical documents and archives related to that research have been collected and presented in this book as was Professor Hassanpour’s intention. These documents, apart from the information on the agrarian developments and peasant movements in Iran and Kurdistan, are useful for studies on the socio-economic structure of the region, the developments of the neighboring regions and their effects on Kurds in Iran, the methods and information sources of the US Consulate, and provides details about the economic, livelihood and agricultural situation of the region in early 1950’s. The Persian translation of the English declassified documents, historical dailies as well as the final manuscript preparation is completed by Mahdi Ganjavi. Professor Amir Hassanpour (1943-2017) was a prominent Kurdish-Iranian Marxist Linguist and Professor Emeritus of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations at the University of Toronto, where he taught from 1999 to 2009. His major research areas were Kurdish sociolinguistics, Kurdish history and nationalism, as well as peasant and social movements in the Middle East and Kurdistan.





Publication News

Rostam in Twenty-Second Century

Written by: Abdulhussain San’ati Zadeh Kermani (originally written 1934), Edited by: Mahdi Ganjavi, Mehrnaz Mansouri, Asemana Books, 2017

Cover by: Mehdi Pourian


San’ati Zadeh Kermani published his masterpiece, Rostam in the Twenty-Second Century, in 1934. This book is widely recognized as the first Persian science fiction novel. It was initially written for and published as a feuilleton in Shafaq Surkh, a daily newspaper under the editorial guidance of Mayil Toysirkani (1847-1950). In this fiction, written a few years before the Second World War, the city of Zahidan in the Twenty-Second Century becomes the setting where San’ati Zadeh Kermani imagines a utopian solution to his contemporary national and international challenges, such as the national quest for judicial system reform, and the struggle between new and old values.



Mahdi Ganjavi is a multilingual scholar, and writer with multiple degrees in education, Middle Eastern history, information, international law, and law. He obtained his PhD from the Department of Leadership, Higher and Adult Education at the University of Toronto. His research focuses on the transnational history of education, literature, translation, law, print and publication in the Middle East, the cultural Cold War, and archives in exile and diasporic archives. Ganjavi’s book, “Education and the Cultural Cold War in the Middle East: The Franklin Book Programs in Iran”, is published by I.B. Tauris. Ganjavi’s scholarly writings, essays, and reviews have appeared in the International Journal of Lifelong Education, Encyclopedia Iranica, Iranian Studies, Ajam Media, the Bullet, Global Voices, and Review of Middle East Studies.

Between 2016 and 2019, Ganjavi edited and oversaw the publication of six little-known Persian novels from the 1930s and 1940s. These novels shed light on the origins of science fiction, detective fiction, and utopian fiction in Persian. Ganjavi has also published a critical edition of the Henriyah Translation (tarjumah hinrīyah), the earliest Persian translation of “One Thousand and One Nights” (Tehran: Maniahonar, 2022).

Ganjavi’s translations of lickos, a syllabic poetry of Southeast Iran, have appeared in Modern Poetry in Translation and Asymptote. His translations of high modernist, eco-poetry, and New York School English poetry into Persian have been published in several literary magazines such as Neveshta, Namomken, and Zamaneh. He has also contributed a translation to “Shades of Truth: Iranian Short Fiction of the Fifth Generation in Translation” (Mannani, M & E. Dehnavi Eds., 2019).

In 2014, Ganjavi co-edited and published the e-book Bakhtak (Incubus), a collection of 57 Persian horror stories by authors living both in and outside Iran. The book was called for, launched, and promoted via social media as part of an initiative to develop marginal literary genres and was downloaded 5,000 times worldwide, an “unprecedented” literary achievement according to BBC Persian.


Copy rights are reserved

Typography: Ehsan Yazdani



A poem by Mahdi Ganjavi in honor of Khodanur Lojei https://wordswithoutborders.org/read/article/2023-01/woman-life-freedom-khodanur-mahdi-ganjavi/

Anthology Of Short Story By Iranian Diaspora

Published as an e-book, Incubus, ( بختك-“Bakhtak“in Farsi) is a collection of fifty seven horror, at times blunt, stories written in Farsi by different Iranian writers, living inside and outside Iran. Read more: https://iranianstoday.com/anthology-of-short-story-by-iranian-diaspora/

‎‘On Marx’ available at Iranian bookstores

The 2007 book, ‘On Marx’ (An Introduction to the Revolutionary Intellect of Karl ‎Marx), by American scholar Paula Allman provides a preliminary but enlightening ‎account of the ideas suggested by a prominent thinker. Read more: https://www.ibna.ir/en/tolidi/297710/on-marx-available-at-iranian-bookstores



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Photo: Ideh