Commodification of Censorship in Iranian Writing in English

Sanaz Fotouhi

Abstract


This paper examines the commodification of censorship and banning in relation to the cultural products that are emerging from and about Iran in the West. Using books written by the Iranian diaspora in English as example, it highlights the often ironic emphasis where a cultural product/idea that has been oppressed, banned or censored in Iran is taken up vicariously in the West under the illusion that it has overcome that censorship/oppression by the virtue of being presented in the West, only to be read again in a definitive and biased framework that identifies it as a censored or banned piece of work. It pays attention to how the commodification of censorship offers an illusionary shift in power relationship where under the guise of Western liberation, the creators feel a sense of freedom, agency and powerfulness by being heard and seen against those oppressions that they previously faced, only with the reality being that in some ways their work and voices are ironically contributing to further emphasizing stereotypical understandings and power relations between the East and the West. 

 

Keywords: Iranian literature; World literature in English; Iran

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