Secretly familiar : public secrets of a post traumatic diaspora
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In 1979, the socio-political landscape of Iran was transformed beyond recognition. After years of conflict between the Shah and a myriad of political opposition groups, it seemed that the people had indeed triumphed over an authoritarian monarch. As is now widely known, their short lived victory transformed into a systematic programme of terror that turned back on and attacked those that the Islamic Republic deemed contrary to its values. The ‘bloody decade’ of the 1980s saw thousands of executions and disappearances under the cloak of the war with neighbouring Iraq. The records of these massacres are still largely unreliable and/or incomplete. The programme of terror in question, that ensued and persists up to the present day, has instigated a sprawling transnational Diaspora with a familiar but rarely divulged public secret. My doctoral thesis comprises two main parts in relation to these events. They are connected by the running theme of alternative narratives of past violence, and a post-traumatic political activism. This is an intimate ethnography that examines global processes (revolution, Diaspora, transnational activism) from the vantage point of local and particular histories of Lur, former Fadaiyan guerilla fighters in Oslo. In the second part of this work, these histories are located within the collective movement of the Iran Tribunal, a literal attempt to make secrets public and to bring together subjective experiences of violence into a truth-‐telling process. Opening up a new space for critical reflection, this study proposes an alternative lens of analysis of tumultuous historical processes. With regards to their actors, efforts are made to better understand how lives and narratives are ordered around the characteristic disorder of violence, fear and Diaspora itself, and how subjective traumas manifest into collective, and in this case transnational, movements. My ethnography of disordered and interrupted lives works to inform studies of such critical contemporary realities as well as to ethnographically introduce the Iranian Diasporas’ public secret of violence for wider anthropological enquiry, and to contribute towards its critical analysis.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Embargo Date: 2020-10-30
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations. Print and electronic copy restricted until 30th October 2020
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