“Internal Orients”: Literary Representations of Colonial Modernity and the Kurdish “Other” in Turkey, Iran and Iraq
2019-12-06T17:08:28Z (GMT) by
This thesis investigates selected Anglophone literary works about the Kurds. The works are four novels, Oya Baydar’s The Lost Word (2011), Sophie Hardach’s The Registrar’s Manual for Detecting Forced Marriages (2011), Laleh Khadivi’s The Age of Orphans (2009) and The Walking (2013), one novella The Sayings (2003) by W. C. Scheurer, and eight poems in Choman Hardi’s poetry collection Life for Us (2004). It places postcolonial theory in dialogue with literary critical depictions of Kemalist, Persian and Ba’thist nationalisms in modern Turkey, Iran and Iraq. This study, in these texts, explores colonial discourse and praxis by Turkish, Iranian and Iraqi nation-states against the Kurds throughout twentieth century and in early twenty-first century. By means of investigating these works, the thesis argues that these states’ “adaptative modernities”, constituted by Western modernity in the Middle Eastern context, minutely embody Western colonialism. Correspondingly, the Kurds, and their homeland, represent “an Orient within” especially for Turkey and Iran, which construct Turkish and Persian “Western” subjecthood as a process of nation-state formation. In their portrayals of nationalist racialisations, the chosen writers explore how Turkish, Persian and Arabic history, culture and language are mobilised by means of this process. The Kurds are thus rendered colonial subjects within these states’ borders. This thesis interrogates the polarising ideology of nationhood which underpins these nation-states’ modernity and explores how the Kurds are inferiorised. The study examines the ways Kurdish literary characters are oppressed and murdered by means of state sovereignty’s inhumane laws and the ways they are rendered homeless inside and outside these countries. Finally, it explores literary depictions of nationalist patriarchy, which exploits women in general and Kurdish women in particular in the process of nation-making and nationalist struggles.