Whiteness, Orientalism and Immigration: A Critique of Two Iranian Exilic Memoirs
thesisposted on 08.06.2021, 12:43 by Sara Saljoughi
This paper is a critique of two Iranian exilic memoirs: Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir by Azar Nafisi and Marina Nemat’s Prisoner of Tehran: A Memoir. By reading both texts as “native informant” (Spivak, 2003; Dabashi, 2006) memoirs, this paper analyzes how the authors’ performance of marginality within Iranian society and sameness with their Western readers results in their adoption of a ‘white’ Western feminist gaze at post-revolutionary Iran, which is located within an Orientalist discourse regarding differences between ‘East’ and West’. Nafisi and Nemat contribute to the racialization of Muslims and they racialize a ‘white’ identity that is primarily expressed through the unveiled body and strong support for Western values and democracy. I argue that their representations of Iran are part of a discourse of racialized whiteness that is a feature and governing principle of Western immigration and its attempt to control and ‘liberate’ the Muslim migrant subject.