As an architectural and urban historian, Sahar Hosseini studies the socio-cultural conditions of societies by looking at the places they create, inhabit, and modify. Her scholarship focuses on the built environment and material culture of the pre-modern Muslim world, particularly positioning the Persianate societies at the intersection of global flows, local practices, and the natural context of each region. Her current book project offers a new interpretation of Isfahan’s seventeenth-century urban development by shifting attention from the city center and its structures to the nearby Zayandehrud River and its associated landscapes. Given the multiplicity of the roles played by the river, Hosseini’s work explores different aspects of the city-river relationship across multiple scales—from the broad scale of the region to the intimate scale of the human body.
In addition to her focus on Safavid Iran, Hosseini has also worked on a range of topics related to landscape and urbanism in contemporary Iran. Recent work has also involved collaborations with a team of digital storytellers at Rutgers University-Newark to employ digital mapping and visualization tools to narrate the history of immigration in the old industrial town of Newark through the lens of its built environment. This critical reading of landscape and methodological explorations also find their way into her teaching, where she directs her students to explore the built environment and landscape as a manifestation of the interplay between a myriad of contemporary and historical actors.
Before joining Pitt, Hosseini held fellowships at Dumbarton Oaks, the Humanities Institute at the New York Botanical Garden, and Rutgers University-Newark.