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"You Can't Bury Them All:" The Representation of Women in the Contemporary Iraqi Kurdish Novel in Bahdinan

Alhamid, Lolav M. Hassan (2017) "You Can't Bury Them All:" The Representation of Women in the Contemporary Iraqi Kurdish Novel in Bahdinan. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (KAR id:64380)

Language: English
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This thesis aspires to place the literature of Bahdinan on the Kurdish literary map through reading contemporary Iraqi Kurdish novelistic discourse by Bahdini authors. It examines the women who inhabit the literary circles of Bahdinan today by focusing on the ways in which they are represented and the ways in which they determine to represent themselves. The study is the first fully and exclusively to investigate the literary representations and voices of Kurdish women in the novels by contemporary Bahdini male and female authors. In examining these novels, I capture the manners and mechanisms by which Kurdish women are represented in relation to the changing socio-political situation of Iraq. In reaction to the historical processes of marginalization and relegation by the different hegemonic structures in Iraq, the case of Kurdish novelistic discourse in Bahdinan offers new grounds for the depiction of the lives and experiences of Kurdish women.

Focusing on the representation of female characters and themes, the thesis explores three pairs of novels published in Iraqi Kurdistan and its diaspora since the mid-2000s. The novels, which depict three successive periods of Iraq's recent history (1986-1991, 1992-2008, and 2009-2014), include Qasham Balata's Runaway to Nowhere (2010) and Sindis Niheli's Hizar Di Werçerxana Da, Bergê Êkê (Hizar and the Vicissitudes of Life, Part One, 2013) both of which depict a time of war and political conflicts, Sabri Silevani's Mariama: Kiçe-Jinek ji Zemanek Di (Mariama: A Woman from Another Time, 2007) and Tahsin Navishki's Tavge (2011) both of which explore gender norms and violence against women in the post-conflict Kurdish society and Tahsin Navishki's Alê Di Yê Prê (The Other Side of the Bridge, 2010) and Sindis Niheli's Hizar Di Werçerxana Da, Bergê Dwê (Hizar and the Vicissitudes of Life, Part Two, 2014) in which new forms of violence that have arisen in the current moment of criminality and terrorism are represented. A three-moment periodizing model is employed to analyze the novels' representation of women and the violence they experience in relation to modern Kurdish history according to three chronological interrelated phases: women and war-related violence, women and post-conflict violence, and women and terrorism-related violence.

A feminist approach that intersects with a variety of fields including anthropology, sociology, psychoanalysis, and economics considers literature, particularly the novel, as an influential medium for the study of gender inequality and women's socio-political roles and interests. Adopting this model and employing textual and contextual approaches, the thesis explores the representation of the various forms and layers of violence against women during times of armed conflicts and political disputes. Kurdish women are depicted as suffering from growing levels of violence related to the traditional gender attitudes, patriarchal and tribal structures in addition to sexual and domestic war-related and post-conflict gender violence. The study also investigates the ways in which oppressed Kurdish women in Iraq resist violence, attempt to bring about change, and transform themselves from voiceless victims to influential social and political activists.

Kurdish novelistic discourse in Bahdinan suggests that despite the significant absence of novelistic production by Kurdish women writers, male writers, writing with a sense of responsibility to their community, have effectuated the depiction of women-related themes in their works. It is concluded that with the establishment of the quasi-independent Kurdish region in Iraq in 1991 and the growing production of Bahdini novels, Kurdish novelists, both male and female, have come to place more emphasis on feminist subjects and themes than ever before. These novelists endeavour to highlight the Kurdish marginalized culture and silenced history in their writing while maintaining a feminist sense of representation through focusing on the lives and experiences of female characters. These novels, studied within and in relation to the postcolonial feminist canon, emphasize the ways in which ethno-national divisions as well as long-lasting political, social, economic and cultural effects of colonialism, armed-conflicts, and violence affect women. Thus, they can be justly described as testimonies to Kurdish women's pains and sufferings as well as their determination to resist violence and subordination, thereby contributing to the emerging Kurdish literature that can be most productively explored within a feminist and postcolonial frame.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Landry, Donna
Thesis advisor: Bolaki, Stella
Uncontrolled keywords: Kurdish Novel, Kurdish Women, Violence Against Kurdish Women
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of English
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 14 Nov 2017 10:10 UTC
Last Modified: 08 Dec 2022 10:04 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Alhamid, Lolav M. Hassan.

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