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Brenda Shaffer

Brenda Shaffer

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Brenda Shaffer is an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and Israeli scholar, and the president-elect of the Foreign Policy Section of the American Political Science Association
American Political Science Association
The American Political Science Association is a professional association of political science students and scholars in the United States. Founded in 1903, it publishes three academic journals...

. She is currently a faculty member at the University of Haifa
University of Haifa
The University of Haifa is a university in Haifa, Israel.The University of Haifa was founded in 1963 by Haifa mayor Abba Hushi, to operate under the academic auspices of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem....

, in the School of Political Science
Political science
Political Science is a social science discipline concerned with the study of the state, government and politics. Aristotle defined it as the study of the state. It deals extensively with the theory and practice of politics, and the analysis of political systems and political behavior...

 and Department of Asian Studies
Asian studies
Asian studies, a term used usually in the United States for Oriental studies and is concerned with the Asian peoples, their cultures, languages, history and politics...

 and visiting scholar at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy
Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy
Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy is a school of international relations established under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan in January 2007. Its main objective is to train specialists for a diplomatic career in Azerbaijani foreign affairs and its founding rector is Dr...



Brenda Shaffer was born in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...


Shaffer received her Ph.D. from Tel Aviv University
Tel Aviv University
Tel Aviv University is a public university located in Ramat Aviv, Tel Aviv, Israel. With nearly 30,000 students, TAU is Israel's largest university.-History:...

 and has worked for a number of years as a researcher and policy analyst for the Government of Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

. She reads a number of languages, including Turkish, Azerbaijani, Russian, and Hebrew.

Shaffer was a postdoctoral fellow at the International Security Program http://bcsia.ksg.harvard.edu/?program=ISP of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. She was the former Research Director of the Caspian Studies Project at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.
  • 2001-2004 Post-doctoral Fellow, “Young Truman Scholar” three-year fellowship in the field of Middle East Studies, Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
    Hebrew University of Jerusalem
    The Hebrew University of Jerusalem ; ; abbreviated HUJI) is Israel's second-oldest university, after the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. The Hebrew University has three campuses in Jerusalem and one in Rehovot. The world's largest Jewish studies library is located on its Edmond J...

  • 2000-2001 Post-doctoral Fellow, International Relations & Middle East Studies, Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Israel).
  • 1999-2005 Post-doctoral Fellow, International Security Program, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University (USA).
  • 1996-1999 Ph. D. School of History, Tel Aviv University (Israel). Dissertation topic: “The Formation of Azerbaijani Collective Identity: in Light of the Islamic Revolution in Iran and the Soviet Breakup.”
  • 1986-1989 MA in Political Science (with specialization in Russian Studies)' Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Israel). (MA thesis topic: “Soviet Power Projection— the View of the Military”).
  • 1983-1986 BA in Political Science and International Relations, Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Israel).


According to Camron Michael Amin, who is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, in his review of "Borders and Brethren: Iran and the Challenge of Azerbaijani Identity":
Touraj Atabaki, who is a Professor of Social History at the University of Amsterdam and a Senior Research Fellow at the International Institute of Social History
International Institute of Social History
The International Institute of Social History is a historical research institute in Amsterdam. It was founded in 1935 by Nicolaas Posthumus. The IISG is part of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences....

, critically challenged Shaffer in his review of her "Borders and Brethren: Iran and the Challenge of Azerbaijani Identity"
Atabaki concludes his review by stating "Borders and Brethren is an excellent example of how a political agenda can dehistoricize and decontextualize history".

Ken Silverstein
Ken Silverstein
Ken Silverstein is an American editor covering the Washington bureau for Harper's Magazine. In addition to contributing to the print edition of Harper's Magazine, Silverstein publishes a weblog entitled "Washington Babylon" on the magazine's website...

, of Harpers Magazine
Harpers Magazine
Harpers Wine and Spirit Trade Review or simply Harpers is a British fortnightly publication for the wine and spirit industry. Founded in 1878, it has a circulation of 5,224 fully subscribed readers. It is read across all sectors of the drinks industry including producers, distributors,...

, in an article titled "Academics for Hire", comments:
Evan Siegel
Evan Siegel
-Biography:Evan Siegel received his PhD in Mathematics from the CUNY Graduate Center in 2000, his MSc in Mathematics from New York University, and his BSc in Mathematics from MIT. He is currently an Associate Professor of Mathematics at New Jersey City University...

 in his review of Shaffers book, Borders and Brethren: Iran and the Challenge of Azerbaijani Identity, states: "The book suffers from some general weaknesses. Its author is prone to make plausible generalizations which, however, are underdocumented when they are documented at all. At one point she claims, in the second half of the nineteenth century, some Azerbaijanis espoused Pan-Islamic ideology, and many of the supporters of Pan-Islam identified with Iran at this time. In addition, many Azerbaijanis were interested in their Turkic identity in a cultural sense, but few supported political unity with other Turkic peoples. The source she cites for this says nothing of the sort."

Evan Siegel strongly criticizes the book for being full of mistakes, inaccuracies, misinterpretation, and misquoting of sources and the book's failure to provide documentations to support Shaffer’s observations.

In conclusion Evan Siegel adds: "Brethren and Borders is a highly political book on an emotional subject which needs careful, dispassionate analysis. Its chapters on the historical background is full of inaccuracies. Its chapters on current events and trends include a few interesting observations which don’t appear in the literature, but most of it is readily available elsewhere."

The American historian Ralph E. Luker echoes Silversteins article, saying:


  • Author of "Partners in Need: The Strategic Relationship of Russia and Iran" (the Washington Institute for Near East Policy).
  • Author of "Borders and Brethren: Iran and the Challenge of Azerbaijani Identity" (MIT Press, 2002).
  • Editor of "The Limits of Culture: Islam and Foreign Policy" (MIT Press, 2006).
  • Author of "Energy Politics" (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009).

Book chapters:
  • “Iran’s Internal Azerbaijani Challenge: Implications for Policy in the Caucasus,” in Moshe Gammer (ed.), The Caucasus (London: Frank Cass, 2004).
  • “U.S. Policy in the South Caucasus,” in Dov Lynch (ed.) The South Caucasus: a challenge for the EU (Chaillot Paper 65, EU ISS, December 2003).
  • “Azerbaijan” in Waisman and Vasserman (ed.), Political Organizations in Central Asia and Azerbaijan: Sources and Documents (London: Frank Cass, 2003).
  • “Azerbaycan Cumhuryetinin Kurulusu: Iran’daki Azeriler Uzerinde Etkisi”, in Emine Gursoy-Naskali and Erdal Sahin (eds.) Turk Cumhuriyetleri (Amsterdam/Istanbul, SOTA Publications, 2002)(in Turkish).
  • “Postscript” in David Menashri (ed.), Central Asia Meets the Middle East (London: Frank Cass, 1998).

Articles, Papers, etc

Dr. Shaffer's articles have appeared in a number of newspapers and journals, including an article in Current History entitled “Is there a Muslim Foreign Policy?” and “Iran at the Nuclear Threshold” (Arms Control Today; November 2003). Her Opinion Editorials have been published in the Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, the International Herald Tribune, and The Jerusalem Post. http://east-asia.haifa.ac.il/staff/bshaffer.htm

External links