Dissertation defence (English literature): MA Amin Beiranvand


24.8.2024 at 11.00 - 15.00
MA Amin Beiranvand defends the dissertation in English literature titled “Gendered Sexual Violence and Complicity: A Postcolonial Study of Selected Works by J. M. Coetzee” at the University of Turku on 24 August 2024 at 11.00 (University of Turku, Educarium, EDU2, Assistentinkatu 5, Turku).

Opponent: Docent John Stotesbury (University of Eastern Finland)
Custos: Professor Joel Kuortti (University of Turku)


Summary of the Doctoral Dissertation:

Western imperial/colonial expansion has had long-standing and significant effects, in particular in the former colonies. In those places, the era has left wounds that require critical analysis. Nobel laureate J.M. Coetzee’s fictions are often said to be fictional responses to the tyrannies and effects of that era. In his novels, we witness how the deceptive ideology of white supremacy and its proximity to power in the larger framework of colonial/imperial overpowering turns people into terrifying and grotesque creatures, deaf to the pain of those unfairly labelled ‘other’ by the West. For this reason, I analyse power and its effects on the knowledge of the white protagonist in the novels, based on theories of Michel Foucault and Edward Said. The grotesque characters in the novels envision themselves and their culture to be the epitome of civilisation and at the same time exert cultural imperialism over the natives and their culture. Importantly, my dissertation subverts the narrative of the white protagonists of the novels and also investigates counter narratives to such white supremacist narratives. That is to say, in my dissertation the otherness of the other is deconstructed, and it is suggested that the cultural imperialism exerted over the West’s other is born of despotism and the false ideology of the era of white hegemony.

In my thesis I also analyse the trajectory of gender-based violence together with the idea of complicity. Significantly, my analyses suggest that the roots of the rampant gender violence in some former colonies like South Africa need to be sought in the centuries of domination and oppression, that is to say, it needs to be viewed in the light of the intricate relationship between colonialism and imperial domination. My work also suggests that crimes of the past seem to be a burden on the heirs of the colonialists/imperialists in the contemporary world. So, from a world in which the assailants of black women take pride in their misdeeds and commodify women, we move to a world in which the judicial apparatus takes administrative action against a white protagonist who sexually exploits a coloured lady. This means that the prospect is bright for our society despite its deficiencies. To have a bright future for our society, one way as my thesis suggests is via kindness to animal! One white supremacist character I discuss in my work who also sexually abuses coloured women turned into a humble person only when he came to understand animals!

Another solution for a better world that my dissertation suggests is arrived at via an analysis of power and its contaminating effect on the psyche and behaviour of people and characters in the novels: each and every one of us, even those of us who are good people by nature , can turn to evil once exposed to power, and we should not always act based on our rationalisations as many horrific crimes such as those committed in the novels and also in the real world, for example at the hands of Nazis, happened based on rationalisation and a false sense of duty!
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