Displaced narratives of Iranian migrants and refugees: constructions of self and the struggle for representation

Aidani, Mammad (2007) Displaced narratives of Iranian migrants and refugees: constructions of self and the struggle for representation. PhD thesis, Victoria University.

Abstract

This thesis discusses the multiple narratives of Iranian migrants and refugees living in Melbourne, Australia. The narratives are constructed by men and women who left Iran immediately after the 1979 revolution; the Iran and Iraq war; and Iranians who are recent arrivals in Australia. The narratives of the participants are particularly influenced and contextualized by the 1979 revolution, the 1980 to 1988 Iran and Iraq War and the post 9/11 political framework. It is within these historical contexts, I argue that Iranian experiences of displacement need to be interpreted. These historical periods not only provide the context for the narratives of the participants but it also gives meaning to how they reconstruct their identities and the emotions of their displacement. This thesis also argues that Iranian migrant and refugee narratives are part of a holistic story that is united rather than separated from one another. These narratives are part of a continuum that are influenced by historical events that have caused their displacement. For Iranians in this thesis displacement and a traumatic past often creates many different forms of rupture that includes spatial, temporal, cultural and emotional experiences that are constantly being revaluated, renegotiated and changed. In the narratives of the participants we find people struggling to negotiate their identity; devising strategies to cope with displacement and a traumatic past; and they tell stories on the ways they are stereotyped and caricaturized in western discourse. The participants' recount stories about how the objectification of their cultural background fails to take into account the complexity of their experiences and their suffering. For the participants the simplistic notions about their identity and experience in the popular imagination of western culture they believe ignores how their narratives of home (Iran) are connected with the host (Australia) context. The narratives of the participants' have a lugubrious tone which tries to express the effects of the cultural, social, political ruptures they have experienced. The thesis addresses the theoretical issues underlying such experiences and focuses on a narrative methodology to bring to light the problems of identity, stigmatization, cultural trauma, and the significance of representation in the lives of Iranian migrants and refugees.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
URI http://vuir.vu.edu.au/id/eprint/1420
Subjects Historical > RFCD Classification > 380000 Behavioural and Cognitive Sciences
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Social Sciences and Psychology
Keywords Iranian migrants and refugees, displacement, narrative methodology, identities, Melbourne
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