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Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis Essay

3444 words - 14 pages

In the 1970's a great power struggle began in Iran, leading to a profusion of civil unrest
and mass emigration. In 1941 Iranian monarch Reza Shah, was removed from power by the
United States and replaced by his son, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, who Westernized the
highly conservative and religious nation. He continued implementing the Westernized laws set
by his father, which were known to "discouraged democratic political expression in the public
sphere" and condemned Islamic fundamentalism (Khosrokhavar 3). The largely conservative
citizens of Iran protested the alterations in multiple movements in response to the westernization,
financial failures, and perceived belief that the Shah was being controlled by Western powers for
control over Iran's vast oil supply. January of 1979, the Shah went into exile in Egypt and the
devoted Muslim leader Ayatollah Khomeini assumed power, reinstalling the strict, Islamic law;
"The Constitution allows all laws to be revised [...] by an Assembly of Expert, which is
dominated by conservative clergymen" (Khatami 122) . In 1980, Iraqi troops invaded Iran in
hopes of capturing the oil- rich country amidst the Revolutionary turmoil, further contributing to
Iranian emigration to European countries. The Iran Iraq War continued until 1988. The mass
exodus resulted in the "forced dispersal, immigration, displacement and establishment of
reconfigured transnational communities", now known as the Iranian diaspora (Agnew 19).Such
abrupt uprooting of a citizen's identity and physical connection to their homeland leads to a
conflicting sense of identity and belonging in individuals who are involved in the sudden
transition.
As a member of the Iranian diaspora, Marjane Satrapi endured many hardships in her
efforts to transition from Middle Eastern culture to a more modernist Western culture. Her series
of graphic novel memoirs, Persepolis, depict her childhood growing up in Iran during both the
Islamic Revolution and the Iran- Iraq War, and moving to Austria as one of many emigrants of
Iran at the time. Marjane Satrapi's memoir is just one example of an exile bearing the burden of
memory to unify other members of the diaspora and to educate Westerners on the varying
viewpoints regarding the government and ideologies within Iran. As Marjane is sent to Austria
amidst the turmoil, she is given a great deal of freedom to express her political beliefs and
associate with a variety of people that she otherwise may not have encountered in the
conservative country of Iran. She was set as an outsider or an "other" in the foreign country due
to her lack of exposure to Western culture; Marjane was again considered an "other" upon her
return to her home country, four years later because she had been exposed to the luxuries of
Europe rather than the tragedies of Iranian war. Throughout her lifestyle transitions, her identity
is also greatly impacted; including her political beliefs, taste in music, and her...

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