Macquarie University
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Flesh on the Bones: Narrating Displacement in Persian Life Stories

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posted on 2022-08-23, 00:24 authored by Jack Mathieson

This thesis examines displacement through the lens of life narratives, that is, how do people narrate a lived experience like displacement and express it as a story? The thesis specifically examines the life stories of seven Iranian/Persians who each experienced displacement to a different degree, including those forced into “exile”, those forced to flee for their lives, and those who made a decision to leave for fear of the future. The thesis analyses three interactive, life-story interviews and three autobiographies, one book co-authored by two narrators. I use a narrative framework drawn from a number of academic works to explore their construction of meaning, processes of negotiation, temporality and relationality. The thesis approaches labels and categories as stories pregnant with meaning. By comparing the label ‘displaced’ with these life stories according to this narrative framework, I demonstrate the disparity in this label to act as a social narrative or story representative of the lived experiences of those it claims to represent. In addition, the thesis explores displacement as it is conceptualized in Persian language and culture, which emphasises an experiential narrative, rather than a political category. The thesis concludes that people’s lived experiences ought to be acknowledged, so that ‘displacement’ becomes a social narrative derived from people, instead of one that is imposed upon them.


Table of Contents

Introduction. What’s Your Story? Displacement as a Life Narrative -- Chapter 1. Narrative and Life: Narrative Framework Design -- Chapter 2. Cyrus, Jerusalem and 1979: Contextualizing a Persian Story of Displacement -- Chapter 3. Fleshing Out Displacement: Analysis of Interviews and Autobiographies -- Conclusion. Stories over Labels -- Bibliography

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


Thesis (MRes), Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts, Department of Anthropology, 2020

Department, Centre or School

Department of Anthropology

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Anna-Karina Hermkens


Copyright: The Author Copyright disclaimer:




Persian Gulf


122 pages

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