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Confluence of the Legal and Literary Discourse in Refugee Narratives
Abstract by Dr. Mehraneh Ebrahimi On Session I-26  (Racializing Arab Cultures)

On Thursday, November 2 at 3:00 pm

2023 Annual Meeting

The romanticization of the concept of “exile” in modernist literature has eclipsed the critical distinction between refugees as opposed to other voluntary migrants. While the poetics of exile has fueled literary studies since time immemorial, the legally charged term refugee is defined within a specific discourse of human rights. This presentation looks closely at three memoirs written by refugees fleeing Iran and considers both the poetics and politics of bearing witness to crimes against humanity through personal narratives. Behrouz Boochani’s No Friends but the Mountains written from Manus prison in the Pacific Ocean and Golriz Ghahraman’s Know Your Place are among a plethora of texts written by refugees who have straddled the boarders of fact and fiction in their life stories. In the Postcolonial asylum Farrier criticizes universalization and abstract theorization the figure of exile. He cautions against privileging textuality over the materialist perspective. The neoliberal celebration of the emancipatory powers of travelling ignores the torrid challenges faced by the displaced in gaining asylum. These intimate life accounts become legal texts need to be verified in court of law. However the distinction between fact and fiction in life stories of trauma survivors is murky to say the least. Romanticizing the term “exile” over the legally burdened one of the “refugee” burdens the survivors with a need to dissociate themselves with he title as soon as it is granted. The term refugee is generally associated with the visual metaphor of helpless women and children and, thus, shunned unanimously among the so called “former” refugees who want to distance themselves from their precarious entry point.
Geographic Area
All Middle East
Sub Area