Mr Simon Theobald

Mr Simon Theobald

Position: PhD Candidate
School and/or Centres: School of Archaeology and Anthropology


Phone: 61412077097

Location: LG22, A.D Hope Building, Australian National University.


Bachelor of Arts (Adv.), Hons I., University of Sydney (2009) Master of Anthropology, Australian National University (2013) PhD, Australian National University (2013-present)   Preliminary thesis title: Desiring Perfection: Utopia and its critics in contemporary Iran

Simon Theobald is a PhD Candidate in the School of Archaeology and Anthropology, College of Arts and Social Sciences, at the Australian National University. He has previously studied at the University of Sydney, majoring in International Relations and Studies in Religion. He conducted ethnographic fieldwork from 2014-16 in Mashhad, Iran’s second largest city and home to the shrine of Shi’ite Imam Ali bin Musa Reza. Drawing on his research with educated Mashhadis, his thesis pertains to the legacy of utopia in contemporary Mashhad.


In addition, he is a founding member of the anthropology social engagement project, The Familiar Strange -

Simon’s main interests are in the overlapping fields of the anthropology of religion, politics, and morality. He has a special interest in the Islamic world, particularly Shi’ism, and a geographical interest in the Middle East,  Central and South Asia, especially Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

Theobald, Simon, ‘Doubtful food, doubtful faith: A comparative study of the influence of religious maximalism on new ideas of food taboo in some contemporary Jewish and Muslim communities’, International Journal for the Study of New Religions, vol.3, no.2 (November, 2012), pp.245-268.

Theobald, Simon, ‘Faith, Interfaith, and YouTube: Dialogue, or Derision?’, Literature and Aesthetics, vol. 19, no.2 (2009), pp.326–342.

Conference papers:

2017: “Once Glance is Acceptable”: Perfection and Contradiction in an Iranian Islamist family, Symposia Iranica, Pembroke College, University of Cambridge, 11-12th April

2016: “It’s bad, but we won’t change”: Impacts of Khomeinist legacies and ‘structural readjustment’ on resource management in middle-class urban Iran, Australian Anthropological Society Annual Conference, The University of Sydney, 15th December

2009: “Beyond Kosher” at the annual Australian Association for Studies in Religion “Religion and Difference” Conference at the University of Melbourne 28th–29th November


Simon is currently a Research Assistant and administrator for the ARC-research project “Skin and Kin in Aboriginal Australia: linguistic and historical perspectives on the dynamics of social categories”, and Dr Patrick McConvell (Primary Investigator).

Australian Network of Student Anthropologists.  

Updated:  6 December 2017/Responsible Officer:  Head of School/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications