Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Writing our Body!

I am reading an article for one of my literature classes. The article is called " The Laugh of the Medusa" by Helene Cixous(b.1938)who is an alegerian-french feminist author and professor. Although this article was written in a different time and place, I think that it speaks to what the Iranian woman could do in terms of presenting herself in her wirtings. She begins her article with the following sentences:

" I shall speak about women's writing: about what it will do. Woman must write her self: must write about women and bring women to writing, from which they have been driven away as violently as from their bodies-for the same reasons, by the same law, with the same fatal goal. Woman must put herself into the text- as into the world and into history-by her movement".

Reading those lines inspires me to write and write and write freely. It reminds me of all that I will have to do as a woman, as an Iranian and as a member of the diaspora.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

my friend's article about Iran

I think I could safely say that almost all of my friends are some of the smartest and brightest individuals alive! And of course, I don't hesitate to show off to the world when it comes to talking about how amazing they are.
Rehan's-one of my very dear friends- article was published in GGNews service. I thought i should share his piece with you all! enjoy....

Common Ground News Service
~YOUTH VIEWS~ Understanding Iran
by: Rehan Rafay Jamil date: 2006-10-17
Oberlin, Ohio - The latest standoff between the United States and Iran over the country’s nuclear program highlights how estranged the two countries have become in recent decades. From an American point of view, the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iranian state could dramatically change the balance of power in the Middle East and lead to a decline in its own influence in the region. On the other hand, for most Iranians the pursuit of nuclear technology for both civilian and military applications represents a national right directly linked to the country’s growing economic needs as well as the desire to protect itself in an increasingly hostile international climate.

The current standoff leaves very little room for diplomatic manoeuvring as both governments seem equally adamant not to compromise. The stakes are high as a conflict with Iran could potentially have serious implications not just for global oil prices but also for the stability of the wider Middle East region. In this respect, understanding the complexities and internal dynamics of Iranian society -- a country routinely vilified in the American media, which never shows more of it than scowling mullahs and women covered in the amorphous chador chanting anti-American slogans -- is essential to formulating any effective U.S. policy in the Middle East. .

Washington and Tehran have always had a complex and tumultuous relationship, but there was a time when their relations were not so strained. It is worth remembering that less than three decades ago, Iran was the United States’s leading ally in the Middle East and was viewed as a force for stability and economic modernisation in the region. All that dramatically changed in 1979, when the populist Islamic revolution overthrew the government of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, ending three thousand years of Persian monarchy and ushering in the first Islamist theological government of modern times, headed by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. The U.S. government’s longstanding support of the Shah in spite of his appalling human rights record and anti-democratic style of government had led to widespread resentment of U.S. policies by many Iranians.

After the Iranian revolution of 1979, the United States imposed three decades of economic and political isolation on Iran. The unwillingness of successive American governments to engage with the Iranian regime has come at a substantial price, which includes the election of the hard-line candidate, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, as President.

The failure of the reformist government of former president Khatami to deliver on its political and economic pledges undoubtedly played a major role in swinging popular support in favour of Ahmadinejad. His rise to power on an explicitly populist and nationalist campaign coincided with renewed U.S. pressures for Iran to curb its nuclear program and open it up to international inspections. Moreover, over time the U.S. military presence in the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan and Iraq has led many in the Iranian establishment to suspect the United States of pursuing a policy of military encirclement, and mounting international pressure against Iran’s nuclear program has helped bolster Ahmadinejad’s political support at home. The President has used every opportunity to portray himself as an Iranian and Muslim nationalist fending off American aggression, a stance that has won him popular support not just among Iranians but also in the wider Muslim world.

Iran’s growing regional strength was most vividly demonstrated this summer when its long time proxy, the Lebanese militia and political party Hezbollah, managed to secure a major political victory in the face of a sustained Israeli military campaign aimed at wiping out the group. Israel’s military offensive resulted in scores of Lebanese civilian deaths and immense damage to the country’s infrastructure, but Hezbollah itself has remained intact. The Iranian regime also has close ties to the Shi‘a-dominated government in Iraq -- many of whose members were in exile in Iran during the worst days of Saddam Hussein’s tyrannical rule -- as well as the recently elected Hamas government in the Palestinian territories. For many analysts, Iran’s most potent weapon of mass destruction is its ability to use terror to undermine the region’s stability and increase tensions between Israel and its neighbours.

Yet modern Iran is a society of many fascinating contradictions. It is the first country in the region to have an Islamic revolution but is also the country with the oldest home-grown struggle for a constitutionally-based government, with roots that extend back to 1911. The Islamic revolution of 1979 mandated that women wear veils in public, yet Iranian women are among the most highly educated in the Middle East. It is estimated that well over half of university students in Iran are female. And, despite certain institutional restrictions, they take part in almost every aspect of public life, and can even be elected to Iran’s parliament.

To be sure, the present Iranian regime continues to violate human rights, such as freedom of expression and association. Independent newspapers are routinely closed down, and political dissidents are frequently jailed for voicing criticisms of the government. U.S. policy towards Iran must precariously balance the need for creating incentives for the Iranian regime to enter into a serious dialogue over its nuclear program while at the same time not appearing to be appeasing the Iranian regime.

Fostering relations between American and Iranian civil society through renewed educational and cultural exchanges is one important step in the right direction. In the long run, U.S. interests are best served by those Iranians who are genuinely struggling for political reform in their own country and for better relations with the West. Taking a confrontational position against Iran with the implicit threat of possible military action will only further exacerbate already inflamed Muslim sentiment against the United States and embolden the hard-line elements with the Iranian polity. The time for Americans and Iranians to talk is now.


* Rehan Rafay Jamil is a senior at Oberlin College where he is majoring in History and Politics. This article is distributed by the Common Ground News Service (CGNews) and can be accessed at

Source: Common Ground News Service (CGNews), 17 October 2006,
Copyright permission has been obtained for publication.

Monday, October 16, 2006

the morbid instant of a life!

There is an image in my mind that never leaves me alone, even while I am very relaxed and calm. There is a woman in her late 20’s driving a relatively old car, something like an old Toyota in dark, dark blue perhaps. She is driving. The road is deafly silent. She has put her arm on the edge of the window and her black her is dancing to the wind. She’s driving absentmindedly. I could hear some light music with the deep voice of a woman in the background. She looks very comfortable and calm. She is beautiful and confident. She seems to be a person who has a unique story about her past. She looks like a completely free person who could go anywhere without having to explain to anyone the reason for her departure or arrival. She is neither skinny nor fat. She is driving, driving, driving smoothly…comfortably….authoritatively….And then a big truck approaches from the opposite direction. And she is removed. An un-ceremonial removal from this world...

Saturday, October 14, 2006

literary theory

This is a short piece that I wrote about my initial thoughts on literary theory and the reason that I am taking an intensive class on contemperory literary theory.

What is literary theory and why am I here

This is not a 'tool box' course, meant to show you how to use theory as a method "for producing readings of texts" (page 1, Engl 372 syllabus) .That one sentence about viewing theory as something besides only a tool for talking about literature made me realize why I have always secretly avoided studying literary theory or talking about it during literature classes and in my papers. While hearing others talk about the theoretical aspects of different works of art and literary pieces, I have not yet been able to fully utilize 'theory' in order to explain my thoughts about a poem, a story or an art work.

It is ironic that as a Comparative Literature major I have always been cautious of talking about 'literary theory.' During conversations and discussions about various works of literature I am often hesitant sharing my thoughts on the theoretical aspects of the piece. Even though literary theory has been a part of my academic experience, it has always been a marginal aspect of my Oberlin classes. As a result, I think, I have not yet developed an active understanding of different schools of what we know as literary theory.

During my study abroad in Buenos Aires, I took two literature classes at University of Buenos Aires. The structure of my literature classes were in a way not comparable to my literature classes in Oberlin. I remember how confused I was when at first, I took a look at the syllabus for my literature class at UBA. The readings for each session were always divided into two separate sections of 'literature' and 'literary theory.' Students would come to class having read the assigned theoretical texts in addition to the literary work of the day. Most of them seemed very comfortable talking about the theoretical aspect of the texts. They would always almost immediately classify the different pieces of literature that we were reading. It was as if everyone was supposed to wear their 'theory' glasses before entering these literature classes. This had made me think that as a Comparative Literature major I in fact, know nothing about literature and how to think about literary pieces.

Although I found theses literature classes at UBA restricting in terms of thinking about the concept of 'literature' and what it could mean to individuals, I decided that I need to work on my knowledge of literary theory and that is mainly why I registered for this class while I was still in Argentina.

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