Bellwood Lecture Scheduled for April 29

Tuesday, March 29 2011

“My Prison, My Home: A Scholar’s Personal Perspective on the Middle East and the Search for Rule of Law”

Written by Steven Nelson

MOSCOW, Idaho – Haleh Esfandiari, former deputy secretary general of the Women’s Organization of Iran and director of the Middle East Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (D.C.), will present the University of Idaho College of Law’s 15th annual Bellwood Lecture.

The lecture will take place on Friday, April 29, at 4 p.m. in the University Auditorium, 851 Campus Dr. in Moscow. A question-and-answer period will follow her remarks.

Esfandiari, who comes from a Shia Muslim family, was born and grew up in Iran. She has lived in the U.S. since 1980, having left Iran with her husband and daughter at the time of the 1979 Iranian Revolution. She holds dual U.S.-Iranian citizenship, having retained her Iranian passport to facilitate visiting her elderly mother in Tehran.

It was one such visit in December 2006 that led to her arrest by Iranian security authorities and subsequent detention in solitary confinement at Tehran’s Evin Prison for 105 days. Esfandiari’s book, “My Prison, My Home,” recounts her experience.

“In this time of unrest in the Middle East, Dr. Esfandiari’s experience in regards to the Middle East will provide context and understanding of current events,” said Helen Albertson-Ploucha, associate dean of the College of Law.

Esfandiari's areas of expertise include Middle Eastern women’s issues, contemporary Iranian intellectual currents and politics, and democratic developments in the Middle East. She has been the recipient of the MacArthur Foundation Grant.

She is the author of “Reconstructed Lives: Women and Iran's Islamic Revolution” (1997); editor of “Iranian Women: Past, Present and Future” (1977); co-author of “Best Practices: Progressive Family Laws in Muslim Countries”; co-editor of “The Economic Dimensions of Middle Eastern History” (1990); and co-editor of the multi-volume memoirs of the famed Iranian scholar Ghassem Ghani.

She also worked as a journalist in Iran and taught at the College of Mass Communication in Tehran. She holds a doctorate from the University of Vienna. A full biography is available online at

The lecture will be available via live web feed at, as well as via compressed video to the University of Idaho Boise, Room 162. The lecture is free and open to the public. A public reception will follow.

A reception for the Boise legal community will be held the previous day, April 28, at 5:30 p.m. at the Boise Centre, 850 W. Front Street. Esfandiari will provide remarks on the "Rule of Law."

Previous Bellwood Lectures have included national leaders of the legal profession, the academy, and judiciary, including the Chief Justice of the United States, Hon. John G. Roberts, Jr.

The lecture is named after the late Sherman J. Bellwood, an Idaho native and Idaho District Court Judge of 20 years. After receiving an undergraduate degree from the University of Idaho in 1939, Bellwood went on to law school, served in the military, practiced law and became president of the Idaho State Bar before entering the judiciary. He funded this endowed lectureship at the College of Law. It is the largest endowed lectureship at the university. To learn more about the Bellwood Lecture, visit

Serving Idaho since 1909, the College of Law has been recognized nationally for its distinctive programs, including its clinical legal education, pro bono service, diversity initiatives, and cross-disciplinary field of study including environmental and natural resources law, business law and entrepreneurship, advocacy and dispute resolution, and Native American law. For more information about the College of Law and its legacy, visit
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About the University of Idaho

Founded in 1889, the University of Idaho is the state’s land-grant institution and its principal graduate education and research university, bringing insight and innovation to the state, the nation and the world. University researchers attract nearly $100 million in research grants and contracts each year. The University of Idaho is the only institution in the state to be classified by the prestigious Carnegie Foundation as high research activity. The student population of 12,000 includes first-generation college students and ethnically diverse scholars, who select from more than 130 degree options in the colleges of Agricultural and Life Sciences; Art and Architecture; Business and Economics; Education; Engineering; Law; Letters, Arts and Social Sciences; Natural Resources; and Science. The university also is charged with the statewide mission for medical education through the WWAMI program. The university combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities and focuses on helping students to succeed and become leaders. It is home to the Vandals, and competes in the Western Athletic Conference. For more information, visit