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DemCP colloquium - JEANETTE DEN TOONDER: "Iranian Women Writers in Exile in Europe"

When:We 21-10-2020 16:00 - 17:00


Currently, Western mainstream media prominently presents the Iranian government through its foreign policy and nuclear program, and images of Iranian society focus on religious extremism and terrorism. Many of the Iranians abroad who left Iran after the Islamic Revolution of 1979, arrived in a space in which they were often related to religious fanatics and, as a result of this, lacked recognition as individuals. It seems therefore pertinent to engage with artistic and literary works that offer more nuanced pictures of Iranian migrants and present individual stories.

Since the Iranian diaspora has produced a prolific literature by women reflecting a unique perspective and voice, my talk will focus on the liberating power of literature by discussing texts written by post-Revolutionary Iranian women writers who migrated to Europe. These writers interrogate and redefine notions of exile, home, language, family and history, replacing flat media portrayals of veiled and silenced women by a more dynamic image that, ultimately, offers the possibility to reclaim Iranian women’s agency.

About the speaker

Jeanette den Toonder is Assistant Professor of French and francophone literatures at the Department of European Literatures and Cultures. Her research interests include questions of identity, autobiography, journey and space in the contemporary francophone novel in Canada. She is particularly interested in migrant writing and the female voice and has published in Voix et Images, Francophonies d’Amériques, Revue d’études canadiennes, Canadian literature and Dalhousie French Studies. She is currently working on a research project concerning migrant literature/écriture migrante in France, examining traumas of migration, linguistic interference and migratory feminism in contemporary novels published by female authors from Iranian descent such as Chahdortt Djavann, Nahal Tajadod, Maryam Madjidi, and Négar Djavadi.

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