Iranian Diaspora Literature of Women
Iranian Diaspora Literature of Women
CHAPTER TWO: SPACE AND GENDER
As narrated in literary productions of female Iranian immigrants, characters' living space and displacement from it, affects their identity. This is particularly significant in case of female characters as their gendered identity and sexuality defines the boundaries between insiders and outsiders of the community. As reflected in the literary productions of Iranian women in the Diaspora the spaces of home, city, and homeland play an important role in the formation of the identity of female characters and displacement from these spaces leads to identity crisis.
Home is the first and most significant space that female characters associate themselves and other female characters with. The space of home, including human interactions taking place in it, time and place, is a refuge from the burden of change and in-betweeness in the Diaspora. In search of a space of belonging, female characters are connected with the space of home. However, they also experience the limitations of the expectations of the community regarding the fixation of female identity as preservers of the space of home. Here I will use the ideas of Julia Kristeva and bell hooks to analyse the association of women to this space and the significance of it for them.
Living in a western city, and the freedom it provides from the limitations in Iranian traditional cities, where traditional sexual norms reign, is a challenging experience for the female characters of the literature of Iranian Diaspora women, and causes sexual, religious and cultural identity crises. However, in these literary works it is not only the changes in the identity of female subjects in the Diaspora, which are discussed. Rather, these works also elaborate on the way the body spaces of female subjects in urban life in Iran are transformed gradually and from generation to generation. In the case of female characters living in Iran, globalized space and globalized sexual identity plays an important role in challenging the traditional understanding of body space and tradition.
The space of homeland, no matter how imaginary it is, creates a sense of belonging for the female characters of these works. As mentioned in the selected autobiographical and literary works, the Iranian diasporic communities directly or indirectly try to protect their collective cultural identities through safeguarding the traditional and religious values. Here, the female characters and their sexual attitudes have a great part as transmitters and protectors of the values of their nation. This, however, restricts female characters in different aspects and leads to detachment from this space for some second generation female characters who feel more attached to the cultural values of the host land, at least as adolescents.
The first space to be considered here is Home. The second space is that of the city, and the comparison between sexual identity of female characters in urban space in Iran and in the western countries. And finally, I will discuss the role of the space of homeland in the identity formation and sexual politics of female characters in the Diaspora.
Home and Gender
Home is not a geographical place, but a space with particular routines and relations in which the subject feels complete in terms of identity. Rapport and Dawson refer to this issue as follow:
Being 'at home' and being 'homeless' are not matters of movement, of physical space, or of the fluidity of socio-cultural times and places, as such. One is at home when one inhabits a cognitive environment in which one can undertake the routines of daily life and through which one finds one's identity best mediated-and homeless when such a cognitive environment is eschewed (Rapport 1998: 10).
As reflected in the selected autobiographical and literary texts of Iranian women in the diaspora, female characters in t