Double Trouble: Claiming Complex British-Iranian Womanhood Through Cultural Production
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Cultural production holds the potential for the subversion of existing cultural matrices by offering alternative modes of being. For British-Iranian women, it offers a way to challenge ethnicised norms surrounding ‘Britishness’ that invisibilise and denigrate transcultural positionalities as Other. While existing scholarship on Iranian diasporic cultural production recognises its role as a site for the exploration of duality and belonging, the majority is insufficient in its attendance to the specificity of second-generation creative practitioners as occupying a distinct hybrid ontological position. This thesis aims to demonstrate the subversive work of cultural production in a way that accounts for second-generation British-Iranian women’s ontological specificity and experience. Building from a recognition of the double alienation British-Iranian women experience with regard both Iran and liberal feminism in the UK, it asks: How is cultural production utilised to navigate liminal positioning and advance a more complex notion of British-Iranian women’s transcultural agency? Based on the critical tools of postcolonial hybridity and decolonial authenticity, this thesis analyses two contemporary cultural productions by second-generation British-Iranian women; the short film Taarof: A Verbal Dance, and the singles and music video from singer Farrah’s upcoming album, ID. Using a combination of primarily visual analysis and discourse analysis, this research demonstrates how cultural production can be mobilised for the reclamation of complex agency, subverting binarised conceptualisations of womanhood that position British-Iranian women as either patriarchally complicit or liberal feminists. It also reveals the interconnectedness of hybridity and authenticity for an analysis of the ontological positioning of second-generation women, tools that cannot be stably separated but interact in the creation of transcultural modes of being. Further research is required to comprehensively probe the impact of ontologically hybrid authenticity on second-generation cultural production and its potential for the subversion of reductive, exclusionary approaches to belonging.