Intersections of Memory, Politics, and Identity in Reading Lolita in Tehran

Syeda Farwa Batool

  • Syeda Farwa Batool Kinnaird College for Women University, Lahore
Keywords: Cultural Memory, Identity, Iranian Revolution, Veiling, Repression of Women


This research analyses the role of cultural memory in (re)shaping identities in the memoir of Azar Nafisi's Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books (2003) to expose the hegemonic construct that silences and devalues women in society. The theoretical framework used for this research is drawn from New Historicism and Assman's Cultural Memory Theory. It explores how politics and religion eliminates one's private life. Women become instrumentalized as passive objects, living an act of meaningless existence under the gaze of the Blind Censor. Her work highlights the need to dismantle the political agenda that takes away one's identity. By recalling her experiences as a teacher, she foregrounds the stories of her girls to (re)invent a new meaning at the backdrop of the Islamic Regime. The author recounts memories of the past to fill the void left behind by the Iranian Revolution. By embodying the works of literature in her memoir, she forms a counter-reality, one, where memory acts as an escape from the strict policies and repression of women under the Islamic regime. It also observes how veiling had become a way of stripping away the individuality and
personality of women. The research illuminates the author's aim to remember and expose the dehumanizing impact of the Iranian government on the lives of women. It also focuses on Azar Nafisi's writings to analyze how she has (re)shaped the identities of her students by constructing an alternative narrative and forming a link between fiction and reality.