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From Iranian Immigrant to American Murderer

The trial of Brian Yasipour

In 2001, Brian (Hosayn) Yasipour was arrested in Williamsport, Pennsylvania for the murder of his four-year-old daughter, Susan, while in the midst of a custody dispute with estranged wife Mellie (Amaneh Khatun). As the Williamsport community — particularly its court system — processed this tragedy by supporting Mellie and trying Brian, it became clear that their social identity — as White/Middle Eastern, Christian/Muslim, American/Iranian — was not always a settled matter in any given moment. This was particularly true of Brian whose legal culpability depended on the Court’s assessment of his sanity, which, in turn, was linked to the question of whether Brian was Iranian “at his core” or not. Was Iran the place where Brian’s behavior and “rational” motive for the crime would make sense, or was it the place where his mental troubles began? These issues were integral to trial process which finally took place in March 2006 and included debates about Iranian legal and cultural norms around filicide and divorce. Brian was convicted of third-degree murder; he died in prison in August 2014. The research is based on court transcripts, media coverage, and interviews with many of the participants, including Brian. It is a micro history that illustrates the limits of assumptions we can infer from large studies of filicide, immigration/assimilation and the Iranian- American diaspora.

Thursday, October 1st, 2015 5:00 – 7:00pm
Richard Ettinghausen Library
Hagop Kevorkian Centre
50 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012


Take advantage of the opportunity to explore your interests and find new ones. Topics vary widely from event to event, giving you the chance to expand your horizons.


Each one of our events centres around an area of academic interest, and are followed by a Q&A session where you get to find answers to your burning questions – right from the experts themselves.


Our events provides an invaluable chance to mingle with professors, academics, and students alike. Meet speakers from various institutions from around the world, including SOAS, the University of Tehran, and York University.

Iranian Studies Initiative

Our Mission

The mission of the Iranian Studies Initiative is to create a home at NYU for academics, intellectuals and public figures committed to deepening our understanding of Iranian history, society and culture. The Initiative organizes events that reflect a broadly interdisciplinary and comparative approach to the study of Iran. Ultimately, our mission is to create an Iranian Studies Institute at NYU.

About Us

The Iranian Studies Initiative at NYU (ISI-NYU) provides an intellectual and academic space for NYU faculty members and graduate students to study Iranian history, culture and society. Supported by the Gallatin School of Individualized Study and the Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies, ISI-NYU draws on faculty members from departments and centers across the University. Directed by Professor Ali Mirsepassi, ISI-NYU includes a translation service, a lecture series, lunch discussions and other public events, from art exhibitions to film screenings. ISI-NYU will reach out to academics at Columbia University, City University, the New School and Princeton University as well as the rich intellectual and artistic Iranian Diaspora community in New York City in pursuit of its mission to create a central place for the study of Iran.

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What others say about us

The events at the Kevorkian Centre are nothing short of inspiring. I regularly attend and am very impressed with the work of the ISI and their ability to attract some of the greatest Iranian thinkers from all around the world. They connect me to my country and make me proud to be a part of NYU.

Iman KanjiM.A. Student, NYU

The Iranian Studies Initiative lectures have been very informative and helpful for me. As someone who hasn’t focused on Iran in my studies, they have given me a chance to better understand the central debates and newest research emerging from Iranian studies.

Ella WindM.A. Student, Kevorkian Centre

The NYU Iranian Studies Initiative lecture series has offered fascinating and timely talks. I have thoroughly enjoyed them and I look forward to attending more in the future.

Jennifer Pineo-DunnPhD Candidate, NYU

The ISI talks and events at the Kevorkian Centre have been really inspiring and bring attention to the ongoing debates and topics in the Iranian intellectual circles. Truly look forward to more of the events organized by the Initiative.

Aqsa KhalidM.A. Student, Kevorkian Centre

I have found the ISI lectures and programs to be intellectually stimulating but accessible at the same time. It’s a wonderful resource for those interested in gaining a deeper understanding of Iran and its politics and culture, critical in today’s Western-Iran relations.

Brian GarethM.A. Student, Kevorkian Centre