Jamsheed Choksy earned his BA degree in Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures from Columbia University in 1985 and his PhD in History and Religions of the Near East and Inner Asia from Harvard University in 1991. Since coming to IU in 1993, he has held appointments in the Departments of Central Eurasian Studies, Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, History, India Studies, Religious Studies and with the Ancient Studies Program, Medieval Studies Institute, Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies Program, International Studies Program, and the Research Institute for Inner Asian Studies.
Professor Choksy is an authority on Iran (Persia), the Indian subcontinent, Zoroastrianism, and Islam. "His research has fundamentally reoriented our understanding of Iranian history and religions." Choksy's success in studying the development of sectarian communities in the Near East and South Asia - an area of inquiry prior to Choksy's work that was significantly understudied - stems from his unparalleled knowledge of primary language skills of over 20 dialects. He is considered "the outstanding authority in the world on the history of both Zoroastrians (Iranian) and Parsis (Indian)." His research examines the development and interrelationship of communities, beliefs, politics, economics, and security in Iranian-Persian cultures of the Near East, Central Asia, and South Asia. He focuses in four areas projects: the interaction and mutual influence of early cultures; the reorientation of indigenous communities after the advent of Islam to the present; the modification of religious beliefs and mores in the Indo-Iranian areas; and the adaptations by communities from those areas in the West. His groundbreaking book, Evil, Good, and Gender: Facets of the Feminine in Zoroastrian Religious History, was the first ever to study gender in Persia and has opened up new lines of inquiry for scholars of Zoroastrianism into other aspects of gender including "male" and the "masculine." The methodology for his book, Purity and Pollution in Zoroastrianism: Triumph over Evil, has been heralded as a model for cultural-historical studies.
Choksy is among the most sought after media and radio commentators on a wide range of issues facing Iran, Syria, Iraq, ISIS, Al-Qaeda, and Islam. In the last five years, he has authored over 130 foreign policy papers and international affairs commentary that draw his expertise into the public domain. In the ten years post-9/11 Dr. Choksy was interviewed as an expert over 80 times for radio or television broadcast. This demand has almost been matched in the last three years. Choksy was appointed by the President of the United States and confirmed by the United States Senate to the National Council on the Humanities. Choksy was a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, held a Mellon Fellowship at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford, and an American Philosophical Society Fellowship. He was a Scholar at the US Commission on International Religious Freedom and is an elected fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society (London), the American Numismatic Society (New York), and the Explorers Club (New York), and an elected member of the Cosmos Club (Washington, DC).
Choksy received the IU Bicentennial Medal in July 2020 in recognition of his distinguished service to Indiana University.