BearWorksMSU Graduate ThesesSpring 2019“We Carry These Conflicts, These Ruptures of History:” theHybridity of the Self in the Conflict between Tradition andModernity in Laleh Khadivi’s the Age of OrphansKarwan Karim AbdalrahmanMissouri State University, Karwan2105@live.missouristate.eduAs with any intellectual project, the content and views expressed in this thesis may beconsidered objectionable by some readers. However, this student-scholar’s work has beenjudged to have academic value by the student’s thesis committee members trained in thediscipline. The content and views expressed in this thesis are those of the student-scholar andare not endorsed by Missouri State University, its Graduate College, or its employees.Follow this and additional works at: https://bearworks.missouristate.edu/thesesPart of the English Language and Literature CommonsRecommended CitationAbdalrahman, Karwan Karim, "“We Carry These Conflicts, These Ruptures of History:” the Hybridity of theSelf in the Conflict between Tradition and Modernity in Laleh Khadivi’s the Age of Orphans" (2019). MSUGraduate Theses. 92This article or document was made available through BearWorks, the institutional repository of Missouri StateUniversity. The work contained in it may be protected by copyright and require permission of the copyright holderfor reuse or redistribution.For more information, please contact BearWorks@library.missouristate.edu.
“WE CARRY THESE CONFLICTS, THESE RUPTURES OF HISTORY:” THEHYBRIDITY OF THE SELF IN THE CONFLICT BETWEEN TRADITION ANDMODERNITY IN LALEH KHADIVI’S THE AGE OF ORPHANSA Master’s ThesisPresented toThe Graduate College ofMissouri State UniversityTEMPLATEIn Partial FulfillmentOf the Requirements for the DegreeMaster of Arts, EnglishByKarwan Karim AbdalrahmanMay 2019
Copyright 2019 by Karwan Karim Abdalrahmanii
“WE CARRY THESE CONFLICTS, THESE RUPTURES OF HISTORY:” THEHYBRIDITY OF THE SELF IN THE CONFLICT BETWEEN TRADITION ANDMODERNITY IN LALEH KHADIVI’S THE AGE OF ORPHANSEnglishMissouri State University, May 2019Master of ArtsKarwan Karim AbdalrahmanABSTRACTThis study presents a postcolonial reading of Laleh Khadivi’s The Age of Orphans based on thetheories of Edward Said and Homi Bhabha. The project offers specific answers to severalquestions: can this novel be read through the lens of Bhabha’s theory of hybridity, and, if so,what does such a reading reveal about culture and identity in The Age of Orphans? The hybridself is an experience wherein the postcolonial self holds the shades of two identities and cultures,namely the colonizer and the colonized. In other words, the protagonist Reza lives in a space thatrepresents the shadows of both traditional culture and modern culture. Reza’s inner tensioncomes from mixed cultural identity that is represented in his conflicting imaginings, feelings,thoughts, and behaviors towards the Kurds and his wife, Meena. The present study demonstratesthat Reza has a hybrid identity. The modern Kurdish postcolonial self is a mixed one whereby itcannot return to a purely original and traditional cultural perception.KEYWORDS: Laleh Khadivi, othering, tradition, modernity, mimicry, deculturalization,hybridity, plight of belonging, the Kurdish postcolonial selfiii
“WE CARRY THESE CONFLICTS, THESE RUPTURES OF HISTORY:” THEHYBRIDITY OF THE SELF IN THE CONFLICT BETWEEN TRADITION ANDMODERNITY IN LALEH KHADIVI’S THE AGE OF ORPHANSByKarwan Karim AbdalrahmanA Master’s ThesisSubmitted to the Graduate CollegeOf Missouri State UniversityIn Partial Fulfillment of the RequirementsFor the Degree of Master of Arts, EnglishMay 2019Approved:Shannon R. Wooden, Ph.D., Thesis Committee ChairMatthew Calihman, Ph.D., Committee MemberLinda Moser, Ph.D., Committee MemberJulie Masterson, Ph.D., Dean of the Graduate CollegeIn the interest of academic freedom and the principle of free speech, approval of this thesisindicates the format is acceptable and meets the academic criteria for the discipline asdetermined by the faculty that constitute the thesis committee. The content and views expressedin this thesis are those of the student-scholar and are not endorsed by Missouri State University,its Graduate College, or its employees.iv
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTSI am profoundly thankful to my thesis advisors Shannon R. Wooden, Matthew Calihman,and Linda Moser. I respect their devoted time while writing and revising this thesis. I am verygrateful to Professor Shannon R. Wooden for her classes, and her revision instructions whileconducting this project. I will always appreciate her kindness and support. I want to especiallythank Professor Matthew Calihman for his meetings while doing my MA classes and hisguidance throughout my MA program. Thank you so much. Although I did not have any classwith Professor Linda Moser, I express my deep gratitude for her guidance and support. She was agreat source of help, especially in our meetings in her office. I would like to thank the followingpeople in the English Department at Missouri State University. Many thanks to the DistinguishedProfessor James Baumlin for his amazing classes, especially Shakespeare and The IntellectualBackground of the Renaissance. I found the Shakespeare class astonishing. I also express mygratitude to Jennifer Murvin, Tita Baumlin, and all the faculty members of the EnglishDepartment.I appreciate the support of The Higher Committee of Education Development (HCED) inIraq for awarding me an HCED scholarship and for their continuous support.I dedicate this thesis to my mother who stands behind all my endeavors. She is the lightof my eyes and the nightingale of my inspirations. I would like to thank all my family membersfor their constant support and motivation. Many thanks for Hussein Mustafa whose support andencouraging words will never be forgotten, especially in times of need, and whose words werethe echo of my life. I also want to thank my dear friend Professor Harith Al-Turki for hisinspirational words in my academic life; he motivated me to pursue my MA in English in orderto find better meanings for my life. I see the wisdom behind his words now. I am thankful to allwho taught me even by one word. You are all part of my life; thank you.v
TABLE OF CONTENTSIntroductionThe Socio-Political History of the Kurds in IranThe World of Kurdish Postcolonial LiteratureWho am I? Laleh Khadivi’s Quest for the Kurdish SelfTheorizing the Kurdish Postcolonial PlightPage 1Page 6Page 12Page 19Page 24Outcasts and Strangers in Their Own Motherland: The Hybridity of theSelf in the Conflict between Tradition and Modernity in The Age ofOrphansPage 32ConclusionPage 46Works CitedPage 47vi
INTRODUCTIONPostcolonial theory proposes diverse definitions for the postcolonial self, as selfhood isseen as a product of cultural discourse. Some postcolonial theorists consider the human self to bethe product of a static discourse, but the others think of it as the product of a flexible one. Thesetwo visions provide us with two ways to perceive the idea of culture. First, those who believethat culture is static see the capacity of any culture as limited to a specific geography andhistorical narrative. This limitation preserves the customs and rituals of the culture, and it alsoresists as unwanted the change that the second group considers to result from the dialoguebetween different cultures as they both acquire inter-cultural growth. This second group believesthat culture is a flexible model that can be updated. Accordingly, the dynamism of culture createsan environment for cultural openness. Of course, the first view looks at any culture as binarilyopposed to others. This perception conceives a culture as a unique entity. On the other hand, thesecond perspective views culture as a model of mobility intertwines with cultural progress. In the20th century, a conception of the self within Kurdish culture emerged from the psychological andintellectual impacts of other cultures’ influence. Even now, Kurdish identity is in transition ortension between tradition and modernity. The notion of tradition denotes a whole and staticculture for the Kurds, but modernity implies the idea of cultural dynamism and evolution due tointernal and external forces that have reshaped their cultural identity.This identity crisis between two selves arises from the discrimination of the Kurds in Iranas a minority ethnic group. Since the 1920s, the Kurdish have experienced dehumanizingviolence, marginalizing of indigenous ideals and practices, devaluing of minority groups, andspiritual and intellectual uncertainty. This ethnic segregation has resulted in a dilemma between1
Kurds’ traditional image of their culture becoming an outmoded one, and a modern posttraditional picture. The conflict within the minds of the colonized Kurds results in reactions,violent and non-violent, from the Kurds, and violent responses from others that ultimatelydehumanize the indigenous peoples. To avoid violence, the natives may start to yield to thepressures, psychological and political, that seek to change their worldviews, and their resultingmarginalization leaves spiritual scars for them. For example, one may begin to see this situation,where the culture of the minority racial and ethnic groups have been deformed, devalued, andignored, and another one has been assigned for them, as their best option.Edward Said’s description of “othering” helps to explain this phenomenon on the level ofidentity, especially as identity is constructed around power hierarchies. Said is a postcolonialtheorist who describes the colonial discourse with a distinction between the self and the “other”in his Orientalism. He employs Foucault’s term of “discourse” to draw a binary oppositionbetween the colonized and the colonizer in the nineteenth century. That binary relationship isstill relevant in the contemporary political context where it produces acts of differentiation,which are then used to justify the hierarchies of power and authority imposed by the “superior”over the “inferior” during colonization. In fact, the formation of binary relationships between thestrong and the weak is based on exaggerating the differences. According to Said, “therelationship between the Occident and the Orient is a relationship of power, of domination, ofvarying degrees of a complex hegemony” (5). Cultural hegemony proves the hierarchy ofpolitical power that ends with an ideology of differentiation between the dominant colonizer andthe “other.” Othering is a form of discourse manipulation, an explicit political mechanism thatjustifies the invasion of one group by the other because the constructed and exaggerateddichotomy authorizes the power imbalance between them.2
Othering is a necessary tool for asserting and maintaining political power: by othering,the power hierarchy is internalized by the oppressed group. The colonizers – historicallyEuropeans and Americans – see themselves as the “self,” but they see the orient as the “other.”Said states that “the Oriental is irrational, depraved (fallen), childlike, ‘different’; thus theEuropean is rational, virtuous, mature, ‘normal’” (40). This ideology of othering limits theactions and thoughts of the group deemed to be the “other” because they are shaped by thepolitical, cultural, and religious backgrounds of the dominating group. And the “other” isnecessarily inferior – a differentiation which superficially justifies the “superior” group’ssubjugation and control of the “inferior” group. This dichotomy allows the colonizers to view thecolonial project as ethically defensible; they believe they have a responsibility to use their powerto improve the lines of the colonized by replacing cultural practices, spiritual values, and modesof thought which have been deemed inferior to their own. Colonized peoples submitting to thispower will enact the vision of the colonists by abandoning their original culture and imitating thenewly imposed modern cultural ideals and experiences of the colonizers. The ambition of thecolonists is to control both the geographical and cultural borders of the colonized bydecentralizing them from traditional and cultural perceptions and recentralizing them to the newemerging ideology of the colonists, even within their own minds. The emotional and intellectualtensions literally distort the psychological and cultural structures of the colonized, making itmore difficult for them to fight against the pressures of the colonizers.The othering of minorities leads them into practicing a cultural phenomenon that theAnglo-Indian postcolonial scholar, critic, and theorist Homi Bhabha calls “mimicry.” When thecolonized submit to the control mechanisms of “othering,” they are pressured into practicing theforeign culture of the colonizer. Bhabha calls mimicry “one of the most elusive and effective3
strategies of colonial power and knowledge” (122). When the colonized practice mimicry, theyimitate the values and practices of the colonizers in terms of dress, behavior, language, andgesture. Through such imitation, the colonized support the ambitions and actions of thecolonizers instead of resisting them. Invaded indigenous people adopt the discourse of thecolonists in order to avoid the hostility and terror of the colonizer’s gaze. In this context, thecolonizer’s project of intellectual and spiritual brainwashing is regarded as the process ofdeculturalization. It, inherent in mimicry, works as a replacement mechanism in which thetraditional language and culture of the native people are replaced by the modern language andculture of the colonists. Therefore, the distinction between the old and the new inevitably arisesas the othering process defines the colonized peoples as primitive, outdated, and wild.Deculturization completes the otherness of the “other” by the formation of a mixed culturalidentity within the colonized world.The qualities of the postcolonial plight in the clash between two discourses speak at theheart of Laleh Khadivi’s trilogy of novels. Khadivi is part of the Kurdish literary tradition. She isKurdish as well as Iranian and American. Her trilogy of novels includes The Age of Orphans,The Walking, and A Good Country. In this thesis, I will examine the first novel’s representationof the Kurdish postcolonial identity crisis in the conflict between tradition and modernity. Theidentity problem that arises in the minds of Kurds comes from the traditional, known self beingforced into new ways of knowing and being. The modern Kurdish novel is a setting for identityreconstruction after the culturally and psychologically violent colonization of the Kurds in Iran,and other parts of the region. Until now, there has been only one unpublished academicdissertation on Khadivi’s novels, likely because Khadivi is a new writer, publishing her firstnovel in 2009. As an early scholar of Laleh Khadivi’s work, my contribution lies in delving into4
the dilemma of the Kurdish self as she represents the clash between a static traditional Kurdishworldview and the new ideology of the colonists.This problem is evident in Laleh Khadivi’s The Age of Orphans where the two opposingspiritual and intellectual perspectives fragment the static discourse that has constructed theprotagonist’s cultural identity. Her novel focuses on the character of Reza Khourdi who lives in aturbulent period of history, an era set into motion by the formation of a national identity forIranian communities manifested in a united nation state. The novel explores the complexinterplay between the large-scale political events of colonization in Iran, and the postcolonialeffects of these events on the minds of the colonized Kurds. As these experiences are explored inthe novel, the conflict between the traditional Kurdish self and the modern postcolonial selfbecomes an insoluble predicament for Reza. The Kurdish novel’s protagonist gives voice totraumas, mourns over losses, and reveals the tragic events that have dismembered the Kurdishmotherland and construes how all these have resulted in the fragmentation of the Kurdishindividual in Iran and other parts of the region who share identical experiences concerning theirethnic identity.In The Age of Orphans, I will analyze the inner experience of having a mixed identity andculture, and the clash within the protagonist’s mind as the two cultural identities externalize theirinward reality. The argument reflects that the two opposing discourses share distinctiveontological and epistemological characteristics. These qualities shape Reza’s imaginations,feelings, thoughts, and behaviors towards the traditional Kurds and the new PostcolonialKurdish, and also the modern Persian people. In the novel, Khadivi depicts the conflict betweenthem as it is centered around two selves, using two different terms to display the differentcharacteristics of the two cultural identities. She acknowledges that Reza’s whole identity is5
divided into “the shadow self” and “the soldier self,” and their division leads to an interiorstruggle to control his traditional perspectives and change his old ways of perceiving himself.The inner turmoil for submission and subjugation results in an intra-psychic conflict when hecannot process the psychology behind the enforced perceptions of the colonist’s culture. And theproblem between the two irreconcilable cultural identities in Reza’s mind leaves a dehumanizingand detaching presence on his character where he construes his own identity through twodifferent mirrors, the native and the foreign. The experience of cultural division andpsychological distortion disorients his central vision, leading him down a troubled road as heattempts to reclaim a map for the original home. But the crushing forces of internal colonialismhaving left no shards from the traditional mirror to collect, and the postcolonial crisis of identityhas destroyed all his hopes to return to the pre-colonial identity. The protagonist there feels theanxiety of being exiled at home because of the prejudice, hostility, and violence of the Persiandiscourse that have introduced a hatred against the Kurds. The Kurdish protagonist’s tensionbetween two selves in The Age of Orphans causes suffering in a variety of ways. Reza’s mixedontological and epistemological ways of knowing and being is the embodiment of these internaland external cultural collisions.The Socio-Political History of the Kurds in IranThe socio-political history of the Kurds in post-World War I is one of struggle and tragichistory. The period is marked by a radical change and an enduring violence that have influencedthe current political and cultural state of affairs of the Kurdish people in Iran ever since the1920s. It was a time of building the new nation states in the region. The politics of Persiannationalism were behind the state policing that drastically transformed the shape of the country6
and the destiny of the minority racial and ethnic groups such as the Kurds. These groups were thesubject to different forms of deculturalization. As a result, they found themselves in animpossible situation, and would not be able to find a way to ease the inward and outwardtensions due to the presence of multiple conflicting cultural identities. From the denial of theirlanguage and culture, the Kurds of Iran have witnessed ethnic strife, the dehumanizing effects ofracism, and the psychological scars of one superior ethnic group policing.On a global scale, the Kurds had integration with their own self-administration beforeWorld War I, especially in the state of Kurdistan. But the Western colonizers divided Kurdistanduring World War I when the Kurds were relocated into four different places, namely, northernIraq, Iran, Syria, and Turkey. And the relocated Kurds were forced into accepting the values andnorms of these various states. All these states enforced cultural assimilation to integrate theKurd
Self in the Conflict between Tradition and Modernity in . The Age of Orphans. Page 32 Conclusion Page 4 6 Works Cited Page 4 7. 1 . INTRODUCTION. Postcolonial theory proposes diverse definitions for the postcolonial self, as selfhood is seen as a product of cultural discourse. Some postcolonial theorists consider the human self to be the product of a static discourse, but the others think of .
999 battle deaths, while conflicts resulting in 1,000 or more battle deaths are coded as major civil wars. As most contemporary conflicts are intrastate conflicts, this paper focuses mainly on these. Uppsala classifies violent conflict in three different categories: 1) state-based armed conflicts, 2) non-state conflicts and 3) episodes of one-sided violence.While “state-based armed conflicts .
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conflicts. Scholars have for the most part concentrated on why violent conflicts begin. As a consequence, we know a great deal about the outbreak of civil wars and riots. Considerably less attention has been paid to how and why large conflicts subside. There is, of course, a growing literature on how civil wars end and why they recur.
Large-scale conflicts are a major challenge for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Since about the middle of the last century, the region has experienced more frequent and severe conflicts than any other part of the world, exacting a devastating human toll. Yet, as conflicts intensify and spread, the region now faces unprecedented challenges.
novel more interesting to read. Most of fiction contains conflicts. Through the conflicts, the author captures the reader’s attention with sense of high interest. In short, without conflicts the novel will be boring (Koesnosubroto, 1988: 27). According to Daiches in his book “Critical Approaches to Literature‖
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