About Banafsheh


Banafsheh Keynoush is a Short-Term Professional scholar at Princeton University, and a Non-resident Fellow at the International Institute for Iranian Studies (IIIS) in Saudi Arabia. She is an editor of the IIIS journal on Iranian Studies, Rasanah. She received her PhD in international relations from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.

Banafsheh was previously a Visiting Scholar at the Sharmin and Bijan-Mossavar Rahmani Center for Iran and Persian Gulf Studies at Princeton University, a Visiting Fellow at the King Faisal Center for Islamic Studies and Research in Saudi Arabia, and a visiting researcher at the Institute for Political and International Studies in Iran.

An assistant and adjunct professor for thirteen years, her work focuses on foreign affairs, political Islam and political economy, with a specific focus on the Middle East region and Iran. Her latest book Saudi Arabia and Iran: Friends or Foes? was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2016 (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, February 2016; Beirut: Dar AlSaqi - Arabic Translation, December, 2016; Tehran: Zarir Publishing - Persian Translation, August 2017). She is in addition the translator of a legal book for the United Nations titled Refugee Rights in Iran authored by Peace Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi (Dar AlSaqi, 2008), and the editor of five volumes of a book of poetry titled Five Treasures of Ferdowsi (Iranian Calligraphy Society, 1998).

As president of a woman-owned international geopolitical consulting company, MidEast Analysts, Banafsheh continues to work in policy circles, and has for over a decade advised global energy, financial, media and high-tech companies on current world affairs. She advised the White House under the Obama administration from 2010 to 2013, and offers services to non-profit organizations pro bono publico.

She has also worked at the World Bank, the United Nations and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees prior and during her graduate studies. As a development officer at the Asia Foundation, she worked on Afghanistan's constitutional process, and in the country on women's legal empowerment projects. In Iran, she worked with the Swiss Academy for Development to generate employment for and resettle Iraqi, Afghan and Kurdish refugees, and offered advocacy services to over 50 women NGOs in preparation for the Beijing NGO Women's Forum in 1995. She has worked for several decades offering humanitarian services to human rights and at risk activists, and led grassroots strategic meetings for environmental activists in the littoral states of the Caspian Sea . 

Banafsheh is fluent in Persian/Farsi, Dari and Tajik, and has very basic knowledge of Arabic, Kurdish and Urdu. An accredited chief political interpreter with the European Commission, she has worked in high-stake diplomatic initiatives for over two decades. She is sought as a content writer and commentator with major news outlets including with NPR, CNN, NBC, Fox, Boston Globe, France 24, Russian TV, Radio Sputnik, Arab News, and a host of newspapers in the Middle East.

The recipient of several fellowships in the United States, Banafsheh grew up in London, Bonn, and Tehran, and has lived and worked in 30 countries across Asia, Europe, South America and Africa.  She currently lives in San Francisco and commutes to Princeton.