From Babylon to Baudelaire and back
In exploring the role of clerics in the Shi’a world, political science PhD student Marsin Alshamary heeds the call of family history


When Marsin Alshamary arrived at Wellesley College in 2009, she had several years of French under her belt and a burning love of literature. Four years later she graduated — with honors — with a BA not only in French, but in international relations as well. The following year, she joined MIT’s Department of Political Science as a PhD candidate in comparative politics and international relations. 

“Political science was meant to be because of my family’s story,” says Alshamary. Her father, a veterinarian for the Iraqi army, was forced to leave the country as a result of his participation in the 1991 uprisings in Iraq. After two years in Saudi Arabia, he gained refugee status in the United States, and the family followed him there.

“I fought it for the longest time. But it’s always been in the background: My entire life story’s about politics.”

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