Jasamin Rostam-Kolayi is Professor of History and Department Chair at California State University, Fullerton. She is the director of an oral history project on Peace Corps Iran and has interviewed many former volunteers. Her articles are published in Iranian Studies, Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies, and Middle East Critique, and book chapters in Iran and the Surrounding World, The Making of Modern Iran: State and Society under Riza Shah, and The Routledge Handbook of the Global Sixties.

Though studies of Iran-U.S. relations of the late twentieth century often narrate accounts of bitter resentment and deep mistrust, the story of the U.S. Peace Corps program in Iran, which operated from 1962 to 1976, provides a complex picture of engagement between Iranians and Americans. This talk discusses how the Peace Corps came to Iran, its formative years and peak in the mid-to-late-1960s, why it departed from Iran and its layered legacy at the program's 60th anniversary.

For the past several years, she has had the good fortune to sit down with a number of Iran RPCVs and the Iranians with whom they worked to do oral history interviews.  Her current research and scholarship examines the Peace Corps Iran program, its entanglements with US Cold War policy and Iranian state-sponsored development efforts, and, most importantly, the collaboration and friendships it fostered among Iranians and Americans.

.Using sources from the US National Archives and the lived experiences of volunteers on the ground, she explores how good intentions and altruism were intertwined with broader political contexts at the national, international and global levels.