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Israeli Etgar Keret’s The Bus Driver Who Wanted To Be God, And Iranian Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis

5293 words - 21 pages

Abstract
Colonization most assuredly produced altered states of consciousness, in which the fundamental sense of “rightness” was understood to be subjective and culturally constructed, rather than naturally true. In conjunction with this realization came the idea that identity is not something personally owned, but rather, something inscribed upon a body or culture by an agent of power. In this case, identities were projected onto the natives by the imperialists.

The colonial enterprise, particularly the European imperialist projects in the east, has forever changed concepts of identity, otherness, and power in both the Occident and the Orient. Both sides were indisputably and irrevocably altered; however, the effect upon native cultures (the colonized) was far greater than the effect on the imperial cultures (the colonizers). European colonizers were able to cherry-pick the greatest parts of “new” culture—their art, their music, their architecture, or their cuisine—and adopt or adapt it to modern imperial life. In many ways, the cultural practices and artifacts of a newly colonized civilization were treated like the natural resources (oil, silk, spice) the Europeans were there to gather: they mattered only in their usefulness to the empire. Unlike their imperial counterparts, however, the native peoples had no choice which customs and practices to adopt, and which to discard. The sheer military might and nature of the colonial enterprise demanded that the colonized completely adapt to the social and cultural norms of the empire. In essence, then, the colonized were forced to lead a life of double consciousness, wherein they participated in customs and practices and obeyed laws and regulations in which they did not believe. The sense of double consciousness is difficult to imagine; most Americans believe that laws and rules exist for a reason: because they make sense. How would the average American react, then, if forced to obey laws and rules that did not “make sense” to his or her consciousness? Colonization most assuredly produced altered states of consciousness, in which the fundamental sense of “rightness” was understood to be subjective and culturally constructed, rather than naturally true. In conjunction with this realization came the idea that identity is not something personally owned, but rather, something inscribed upon a body or culture by an agent of power. In this case, identities were projected onto the natives by the imperialists.
Edward Said’s text Orientalism focuses heavily on this identity projection. For Said, the ways in which Europeans constructed an entire mythos about the Orient was illustrative not of what was actually there, but rather the idea that there represented a foil against which here could be (favorably) compared. Because Europe (and later, America) controlled the discourse—whether through academic or social monopolies—it also controlled the power of identification. If it served...

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