Subjectivity in Contemporary Kurdish Novels: Recasting Kurdish Society, Nationalism, and Gender
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
This study explores how subjectivity has been represented in a selection of Sorani Kurdish novels from Iraqi and Iranian Kurdistan that were published in the first decade of the twenty-first century. Due to the statelessness and suffering of the Kurds caused by the political and cultural oppression, the first Sorani Kurdish novel emerged as late as 1961 and yet only established itself towards the end of the century. Within such an acute context, the novel became a tool in the hands of Kurdish authors which they utilised to preserve and promote Kurdish identity, culture and language. With the establishment of cultural centres and publishing houses in diaspora during the 1980s, the establishment of a quasi-independent Kurdish region in Iraq in 1991, and the Iranian government’s easing of publication in Kurdish by the mid-1980, the Sorani Kurdish novelists seized the opportunity to redefine the relationship between political commitment and aesthetics and to consider the possibilities for an analysis of different forms of subjectivity. All the twenty-first century Sorani Kurdish novels examined in this research have discarded, to one degree or another, the realist mode of writing which dominated the Sorani Kurdish novel until the early 1990s. That is, experimentation with new modes of writing and narrative techniques are the common feature of the novels examined here. By carrying out a close reading within a contextual framework and by drawing on Mikhail M. Bakhtin’s theory of the novel, narratology, and theories of subjectivity, this study intends to illustrate the newly emergent modes of wriring and discourses in selected twenty-first century Sorani novels and their implications for the representation of reality and subjectivity. This study demonstrates that the Kurdish novelists from both Iraq and Iran all focus their attention on recent events, relevant to each region, and how they changed the ways subjectivity could be imagined and depicted. The more modernist and postmodernist in form and narration the selected novels are, the more fragmented and passive subjectivity is; and the society that is represented in these novels appears to have separated from its high values and ideals.
PhD in Kurdish Studies