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  • Orkideh Behrouzan

Teaching Resources on Memory, Trauma, Ruptures, Representation, and Identity Politics

Film has been a very powerful teaching resource for engaging students with the lived life of traumatic experiences and especially wars. I have also assigned fiction and poetry alongside theory to make us think about alternative and complementary analytical tools. The point is to re-examine how to think about/with theory, to let theory emerge from ethnography and lived life as opposed to imposing it on both. Ultimately, one of the goals is to consider to what extent theory is a means or an end for anthropology as an ethical project.This session includes readings and films I have used in my previous anthropology classes.

Post-RuptureSubjectivity and Memory-Wounds: Remembering as Identity Politics

To what extent may we say that there is a ‘duty to remember’ (devoir de memoir)? This is an ethico-political problem because it has to do with the construction of the future: that is, the duty to remember consists not only in having a deep concern for the past, but in transmitting the meaning of past events to the next generation. The duty, therefore, is one which concerns the future; it is an imperative directed towards the future, which is exactly the opposite side of the traumatic character of the humiliations and wounds of history. It is a duty, thus, to tell.

Paul Ricoeur, Remembering and Forgetting

We explore acts of remembering as identity politics; i.e., memory-work as a dynamic and performative process of subjectivity work and of working through the afterlife of ruptures. The aim is to challenge individual-centred and pathologising approaches to collective ruptures and their afterlife. As an alternative conceptual tool to psychologising and pathologising formulations such as trauma, we focus on the culturally generative concept of rupturein order to examine experiences that are diffused and collective, politically and historically constructed, and psychologically and inter-subjectively configured. Returning to the question of representation and the Middle East, we ask: what is the political import of remembering the past in this historical present?

  • Khalili, L. (2007). Heroes and Martyrs of Palestine: The Politics of National Commemoration. Cambridge University Press

  • Behrouzan, Orkideh. Prozak Diaries: Psychiatry and Generational Memory in Iran. Stanford University Press: Chapter 5 and 6

  • Behrouzan, Orkideh. 2015. Beyond Trauma:

  • Behrouzan, Orkideh. 2015. Medicalisation As A Way of Life. In Beyond ‘Trauma’: Notes on Emerging Agendas for Understanding Mental Health in the Middle East. Ed. Behrouzan O. Medicine, Anthropology, Theory.  Vol 2(3), 2015:

  • Veena Das. 2000. “The act of witnessing: Violence, poisonous knowledge and subjectivity.” In Violence and subjectivity. Pp. 205-225. Berkeley: University of California Press.

  • Das, Veena. 2007. Life and Words: Violence and the Descent into the Ordinary. Berkeley: University of California Press.

  • Husseyn, Andreas. 2003. Present Pasts: Urban Palimpsests and The Politics of Memory:Introduction and Chapter 1

  • Khoury, Dina Rizk. 2013. Iraq in Wartime: Soldiering, Martyrdom, and Remembrance. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2013. Chapters 3 and 4

  • Haugbolle S et al. (2008). Introduction: Outlines of a New Politics of Memory in the Middle East. Mediterranean Politics. 13 (2), 133-149.

  • Moosavi, Amir. 2015. ‘How to Write Death: Resignifying Martyrdom in Two Novels of the Iran-Iraq War’. Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics 35, no. 9.

Fiction and Poetry

  • Matar, Hisham. The Return (novel)

  • Jean Said Makdisi. 1999. Beirut Fragments: A War Memoir.

  • Matar, Hisham. The Return (novel)

  • Nayeri, Dina. Refuge (novel)

  • Behrouzan, Orkideh.The War We Lived. Featured Fiction. In CONSEQUENCE. Volume 7, Spring 2015.

  • Mahmoud Darwish: A soldier dreams of white lilies:

  • Behrouzan, Orkideh.Binazeer: A theatrical Translation. Adapted and Directed by Mehrdad Seyf. East 15 Acting School. Clifftown Theatre, Southend. February 2016. (

  • Mortezaeian-Abkenar, Hossein. 2006. A Scorpion on the Steps of Andimeshk Railroad Station, or Blood’s Dripping from this Train, Sir! Tehran: Nay Publishing.

  • Tala Abu Rahmeh: Habibi don't love me:


  • Waltz with Bashir,dir. Ari Folman. 2008, Israel 

  • Where do we Go From Here? Dir. Nadine Labaki. 2011. Lebanon.

  • Persepolis, dirs. Satrapi and Paronnaud. 2007, France.

  • From Karkheh To Rhein, dir. Hatamikia, Ebrahim, dir. 1992., Sina Film.

  • The Glass Agency, dir. Hatamikia, Ebrahim. 1998. Boshra Film.

  • Crimson Gold, dir. Panahi, Jafar. 2003.. Not distributed.

  • The Skin That Burns, dir. Bajoghli, Narges. 2012.

  • Marriage of the Blessed, dir. Makhmalbaf, Mohsen. 1989.

  • Karama Has No Walls, dir. 
Sara Ishaq. 2012.

  • Incendies, dir. Denis Villeneuve. 2010. 

  • The Patience Stone
, dir. Atiq Rahimi. 2012.

  • The Lives of Others, dir. Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck. 2006.

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