Thinking with Zoroastrianism in the 21st Century

As a 3,500 year-old religious tradition, the Zarathushti religion is one of the oldest living faiths still practiced globally. While this confers enormous prestige upon its adherents, the antiquity of the Zarathushti religion itself makes the maintenance of these age-old religious beliefs and practices especially challenging in the 21st century. This paper will address both the remarkable conservatism and the profound changes that have been embraced by modern Zarathushtis in an attempt to pose a basic question: “Where do we go from here?”

Biography

Dr. Yuhan Sohrab-Dinshaw Vevaina received his M.A. in 2003 and his Ph.D. in 2007 from the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University. He served as a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Undergraduate Core Curriculum and as the Lecturer on Old Iranian at Harvard from 2007 to 2009. He was a Fellow of the National Endowment for the Humanities in 2010 and is currently a Lecturer in the Department of Religious Studies at Stanford University. Yuhan teaches a number of courses related to the Zarathushti religion, including “Old Persian and Middle Persian Language and Literature”, “Winged Bulls and Sun Disks: Religion and Politics in the Persian Empire”, and “Priests, Prophets, and Kings: Religion and Society in Late Antique Iran”. In the field of Zoroastrianism he has taught “Beyond Good and Evil: A Thematic Introduction to the Zoroastrian Religion” and, most recently, “Sugar in the Milk: Modern Zoroastrianism as Race, Religion, and Ethnicity”.

He is currently working on a book project on Zarathushti hermeneutics in Late Antiquity to be published by Harrassowitz Verlag of Wiesbaden, Germany and is a co-editor of the forthcoming, The Blackwell Companion to the Study of Zoroastrianism to be published by Wiley-Blackwell of Oxford, UK.

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