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Portraits of Iraqi women: between testimony and fiction

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In this article I hope to shed light on the ways Iraqi women fiction writers are testifying in their novels to war events, the devastation and the trauma they have suffered over the last 35 years. Using the concept of the 'unexperienced experience' formulated by Derrida and Agamben's theory of testimony, I seek to show the intertwined natures of testimony and fiction in these novels. All of the women characters in these works have witnessed trauma and death – whether the symbolic death of their dreams and ideals or the physical death of their husbands and male relatives or friends. Through their testimonies as stigmatized survivors they give voice to the missing testimony and the missing voices of the 'true witnesses', those who have died. In the pages of these novels, the women who have escaped remain in a state of demourance, in between spaces, between death and life, between the homeland and their exile.

Keywords: Gendered Testimonies; Iraqi Women; Testimony and Fiction; Unexperienced Experience

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: The University of Delaware

Publication date: 2010-08-01

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  • The International Journal of Contemporary Iraqi Studies is a new peer-reviewed, tri- annual, academic publication devoted to the study of modern Iraq. In recognition of Iraq's increasingly important position on the world stage, the time is right for a new journal dedicated to scholarly engagement with the country.
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