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Women Write Iran

Nostalgia and Human Rights from the Diaspora

2016
Author:

Nima Naghibi

Women Write Iran

Auto/biographical narratives can kindle both our empathy and our commitment to human rights

Women Write Iran is the first full-length study on life narratives by Iranian women in the diaspora. Nima Naghibi investigates auto/biographical narratives across genres—including memoirs, documentary films, prison testimonials, and graphic novels—and finds that they are tied together by the experience of the 1979 Iranian revolution.

Nima Naghibi’s familiarity and eloquence on the subject of Iranian women’s textual cultures is seen throughout Women Write Iran, opening up a clear discussion of human rights and humanitarianism.

Gillian Whitlock, University of Queensland

Women Write Iran is the first full-length study on life narratives by Iranian women in the diaspora. Nima Naghibi investigates auto/biographical narratives across genres—including memoirs, documentary films, prison testimonials, and graphic novels—and finds that they are tied together by the experience of the 1979 Iranian revolution as a traumatic event and by a powerful nostalgia for an idealized past.

Naghibi is particularly interested in writing as both an expression of memory and an assertion of human rights. She discovers that writing life narratives contributes to the larger enterprise of righting historical injustices. By drawing on the empathy of the reader/spectator/witness, Naghibi contends, life narratives offer the possibilities of connecting to others and responding with an increased commitment to social justice.

The book opens with an examination of how the widely circulated video footage of the death of Neda Agha-Soltan on the streets of Tehran in June 2009 triggered the articulation of life narratives by diasporic Iranians. It concludes with a discussion of the prominent place of the 1979 revolution in these narratives. Throughout, the focus is on works that have become popular in the West, such as Marjane Satrapi’s best-selling graphic novel Persepolis. Naghibi addresses the significant questions raised by these works: How do we engage with human rights and social justice as readers in the West? How do these narratives draw our attention and elicit our empathic reactions? And what is our responsibility as witnesses to trauma, atrocity, and human suffering?

Women Write Iran

Nima Naghibi is associate professor of English at Ryerson University in Toronto. She is the author of Rethinking Global Sisterhood: Western Feminism and Iran (Minnesota 2007).

Women Write Iran

Nima Naghibi’s familiarity and eloquence on the subject of Iranian women’s textual cultures is seen throughout Women Write Iran, opening up a clear discussion of human rights and humanitarianism.

Gillian Whitlock, University of Queensland

Long awaited and truly welcomed, Women Write Iran offers an erudite analysis of some of the auto/biographical works produced by Iranian women in diaspora in post-revolutionary Iran. Nima Naghibi takes her reader on a journey into these works, showing their complexity not only in their own right, but in relation to their reception, demanding a more nuanced and historically situated approach from readers.

Shahla Talebi, Arizona State University

Women Write Iran

Contents

Introduction. Righting the Past
1. Claiming Neda
2. Human Rights, Humanitarianism, and Empathic Witnessing: Prison Memoirs
3. Feeling Nostalgic, Feeling Guilty: Remembering Iran in Documentary Film
4. Repetitions of the Past: Marjane Satrapi and Intergenerational Memory
5. Revolution, Nostalgia, and Memory in Diasporic Iranian Memoirs
Conclusion. Testimonial Life Narratives
Acknowledgments
Notes
Bibliography
Index