An Analysis of Literary Representations of Iranian Men in Diasporic Iranian Literature

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Sanaz Fotouhi


Middle Eastern Muslim men have been historically subjected to stereotypical representations in the West. Although these men are categorically hypervisible for Western audiences as a similar type, among them Iranian men in particular, have been subject to a specific kind of marginalization. Following the 1979 Islamic revolution and the American hostage crisis in Iran, Iranian men and masculinity have become hypervisible as violent and religiously fanatic. While Western discourses of representation contributed greatly to the construction and representation of this specific kind of masculinity which marginalized and stigmatized Iranian men, Iranians themselves, have played a significant role in reaffirming this view. Ironically, contributing most to the reinforcement of this discourse has been Iranian women’s narratives in English in the West, in the form of memoirs and fictional accounts. These popular accounts have played a significant part in marginalizing and emphasizing a hypervisible and stereotypical representation of Iranian men. This paper considers the representation of Iranian men and masculinity as presented through Iranian women’s narratives in the West in English. By drawing on specific narratives and accounts, it examines how socio-political and historical contexts both in the West and in Iran, have led to Iranian women’s representation of Iranian men hypervisibly. Then, through an examination of some narratives by Iranian men, this paper examines how such representations have led to emphasizing the discourse of exclusion and otherness of Iranian men in the West, hampering the actual smooth integration of diasporic Iranian men into their adopted homes.

Article Details

Stigma and Exclusion in Cross-Cultural Contexts Special Issue January 2014 (Peer Reviewed)
Author Biography

Sanaz Fotouhi, Independent Scholar

Sanaz Fotouhi recently received her PhD from UNSW with a thesis on Post-revolutionary diasporic Iranian literature in English. She holds a BA and an MPhil from the University of Hong Kong. She is one of the co-founders and co-directors of the Persian International Film Festival in Sydney.