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Elham Hoominfar

Assistant Professor of Instruction; Co-Director, Colloquium for Global Iran Studies

PhD, Utah State University Logan 2020
Geographic Regions: Global South and North

Topics of Expertise: Environmental Sociology and Environmental Justice, Hazards and Disasters, Development and Sustainability, Gender, Social Inequality, and Social Movements emphasizing political economy

Research and Teaching Interests

Environmental Sociology and Environmental Justice, Hazards and Disasters, Development and Sustainability, Gender, Social Inequality, and Social Movements


Elham Hoominfar is an assistant professor in the Global Health Studies Program at Northwestern University. Hoominfar is a critical sociologist whose research focuses on intersections of environment and society and understanding social movements with an interdisciplinary approach.

She received her bachelor's and first master's degrees in sociology from Tehran University, Iran. Her second master's degree is in the Cross-Cultural and International Education program from Bowling Green State University, Ohio. Her Ph.D. is in sociology from Utah State University.

Before she left Iran, she worked on various research and teaching projects in several institutes, including the Natural Disaster Research Institute, where she was a senior researcher, the Urban and Rural Research Institute, and the United Nations Population Fund.

Her doctoral project is a comparative study of Iranian and American environmental movements focused on water transfer projects. Hoominfar has applied theories and narratives of neoliberalism and social movements in this study. This research explains how two environmental movements in the US and Iran have framed water transfer projects as a mechanism for the marketization of water, not a development project. According to both countries' social movements, there are similarities in the commodification and the commercialization of water, but different processes, means, and mechanisms are used. Hoominfar's study highlights these differences by examining the state's role in two different contexts, a capitalist democracy (the US) and a capitalist centralized statist system (Iran). In addition, she shows why environmental movements have emerged and how they work in different political economies and use different or similar strategies and tactics.

Hoominfar’s publications in Persian and English explore social inequalities and problems caused by development projects for local communities, the impacts of environmental degradation on society, and the effects of natural disasters on marginalized groups. She also studies gender discrimination, social movements, and ethnic conflicts. 

She is currently researching environmental justice, water governance, the commodification of nature, and social resistance, emphasizing political economy in the Global South and North. She is working on another study about gender discrimination and women’s movements in Iran. She is also working on a book in Persian about language and educational justice in Iran.

In addition, Hoominfar has extensive teaching experience in the United States and Iran. She employs a student-centered learning method and a critical view for teaching. She believes that pedagogy is “a critical understanding of reality.”


Global Health Courses Taught

  • Environmental Justice
  • Hazards, Disasters, and Society
  • Qualitative Research Methods in Global Health

Selected Publications

Hoominfar, E. (2023) The marketization of water: environmental movements’ narratives and common experiences on water transfer projects in Colorado and western Iran, Water International, 48:4, 500-526, DOI: 10.1080/02508060.2023.2213001
(Editors' Choice: Selected Article in Water International journal, Volume 48, 2023 - Issue 4) 

Hoominfar, E., & Radel, C. (2023). “Frankly, My Dear, I Don’t Want a Dam” in the US or in Iran: Environmental Movements and Shared Strategies in Differing Political Economies. Social Sciences12(3), 161.

Hoominfar, E. (2022). The Main losers of 1979, the creators of the new revolution in Iran. Monthly Review Online, Posted Oct 12, 2022

Hoominfar, E & Zangeneh, N. 2021. “The Brick Wall to Break: Women and the Labor Market under the Hegemony of the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI).” International Feminist Journal of Politics, (23) 2, 263-286, DOI:10.1080/14616742.2021.1898286

Hoominfar, E. 2020. “Social Movements in Iran: How well does the dominant narrative work?” Critical Sociology, 1-17.

Hoominfar, E & Radel, C. 2020. “Contested Dam Development in Iran: A Case Study of the Exercise of State Power over Local People.” Sustainability, 12, (13) 5476.

Hoominfar, E. 2019. Socialization of Women. In: Leal Filho W., Azeiteiro U., Azul, A.M., Brandli, L., Özuyar, P., Wall, T. (eds) Gender Equality. Encyclopedia of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Springer, Cham

Hoominfar, E and Moidfar, S. 2012. Strategies to Increase Rural Participation in Village Affairs. Ghom, Iran; Motahari. (2nd Edition)

Hoominfar, E. 2003. “Change of Gender Socialization,” Women Scientific-Research Journal 3(7), 89-113.