Farhang Jahanpour

Member of Common Room

Part-time Tutor, Department of Continuing Education

Department for Continuing Education


Farhang received his PhD in Oriental Studies from the University of Cambridge and taught Persian language and literature at Cambridge for five years. In 1970, he was invited to teach at the University of Isfahan, Iran, where he served as Associate Professor and, later on, as Distinguished Professor and Dean of the first Faculty of Foreign Languages, which he founded as the first such faculty in Iran. He also founded the first Department of American Studies in Iran. He spent a year as a Senior Fulbright Research Scholar at Harvard.

In 1978, on the eve of the Iranian revolution, he returned to England and spent twenty years at the BBC Monitoring Service. His latest post in the Monitoring Service was Editor for the Middle East and North Africa. He has been a part-time tutor at the Department of Continuing Education at the University of Oxford since 1985, teaching courses on Middle East history and politics.

He has interpreted for her Majesty the Queen, Prime Minister Tony Blair, Afghan President Hamid Karzai and a number of world leaders, including former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, and British, German, French and Russian foreign ministers. He was the chief Foreign Office interpreter in the nuclear talks between Iran and the West from 2001-2006. He has lectured widely in Britain and the United States, including at Aspen Institute of Humanistic Studies and Harvard and Yale universities.

Publications include: He has edited and written a separate volume on the contents of Nuzhat Nama-ye ‘Ala’i, an 11th-century encyclopaedia of natural sciences, history, and literature, (Nashr-e Ketab). This book received the Book of the Year prize in Iran in 1982. He has translated Arnold Toynbee’s Civilization on Trial into Persian with an introduction summing up the contents of A Study of History (this book was banned by the leading Ayatollah in Isfahan on the eve of the Islamic revolution, which resulted in an attempt on his life). He compiled The Directory of Iranian Officials, for the use of journalists and scholars working on Iran (BBC, 1992). He has also translated into English the first two volumes of The Memoirs of Ardeshir Zahedi, the Iranian foreign minister during the reign of Mohammad Reza Shah. He has contributed chapters to six books on Iran, Sufism, Iranian philosophy and Iranian literature. He has published a few dozen articles in many academic journals. His main areas of interest are Persian literature, Middle East politics, religion and politics, and Islam and the West.