Iranian Women’s Autobiographies: Hybridity and Gender in the Diaspora
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After the 1979 Islamic Revolution, many Iranian families fled to the United States. Their girl children grew up at the “border” between Iran and the US to become first generation Iranian/American women. This paper focuses on three autobiographies the latter wrote in English and examines how they have been influenced by the authors’ diasporic identities. It also considers the politics of production, consumption and reception of these autobiographies by the American public and the international audiences. Drawing from the feminist transnational and postcolonial theories that posit these texts as a form of knowledge production, the paper addresses the question of how gender shapes these representations. By analyzing how the authors represent their lives in their country of origin (i.e. Iran), experience the Islamic Revolution first hand, and portray their life journeys in the United States. This paper explores the differences and similarities in these texts across various identity markers such as religion, education, and socio-economic class. Moreover, it argues that the authors depict and attempt to rectify the political, cultural, and historical prejudices they face while growing up in the United States. It asserts that they articulate what Homi Bhabha defines as “hybrid” and “ambivalent” identities; and that they facilitate the traveling of knowledge from the First World (i.e. the United States) to the Third World (i.e. Iran). Furthermore, this paper aims to fill the gaps in the research conducted about these autobiographies by shedding light on the history of Iranian women autobiography writing and its characteristics.