Celebrating its sixtieth anniversary in 2021, the British Institute of Persian Studies (BIPS) is the UK’s foremost learned society dedicated to promoting and supporting scholarship and research excellence on all aspects of Iran and the wider Persianate world, and to increasing public understanding and knowledge of this region. The Persianate world includes territories historically associated with Persian and Iranian culture and language: Iran, Afghanistan, Central Asia, Transcaucasia, Iraq, the Persian Gulf littoral, and South Asia. BIPS supports humanities and social sciences research into this region, including but not limited to Anthropology, Archaeology, Art, Classics, Cultural Studies, History, Language, Linguistics, Politics, Religious Studies, and Sociology.
BIPS is a UK charity and company limited by guarantee. It is also a self-governing membership organisation, in which members are elected on a three-yearly basis to serve on BIPS Governing Council as trustees of the charity and directors of the company. Most Governing Council members are academics in the field of Persianate studies. Council may also co-opt additional members for their professional expertise.
BIPS is one of the British International Research Institutes – a group of research institutes with overseas centres, financially supported by and headquartered at the British Academy. Together, the BIRI cover much of the Middle East, as well as parts of Europe and East Africa.
BIPS was founded in the UK in 1961 and in Iran in 1963. In 1976 it opened a purpose-built institute in northern Tehran, containing a large library, a hostel for visiting scholars, a lecture theatre and archaeological stores, as well as housing for staff. The Tehran institute remained open after the 1979 Revolution, and today it is one of the few overseas institutes that continues to work in Iran.
In the UK, BIPS plays a key role in sustaining the academic vitality and increasing the visibility of the field, promoting it to the public and campaigning for greater provision for its study in higher education. BIPS’s activities include the biannual awarding of research and travel grants and an extensive programme of seminars, lectures and symposia, as well as recitals and celebrations in the UK. BIPS has published its journal, IRAN, every year since 1963. It also publishes the BIPS Studies in the History and Culture of the Persianate World in conjunction with Gingko Library and the BIPS Archaeological Monograph Series with Oxbow Books.
BIPS has approximately 240 members from around the world. Our membership year runs January to December, but we welcome new member applications at any time. Member benefits include receipt of our journal, IRAN, twice yearly and discounts on other publications; priority booking for lectures and other events and discounts on ticketed events (both BIPS and other institutions).