“Dramas of Nationhood” Lila Abu-Lughod and “Being modern in Iran” Fariba Adelkhah
Two examples of processes of embodiment:
- Egypt, “dramatisation of consciousness”
- Iran, “scientific management of lives”.
Foucault: descending individualization as a characteristic of disciplinary regimes. Brook: Melodrama: revelation of moral order and centrality of modern sensibility.
Process of embodiment: constructing the individualities to produce a sense of nationality. 3 examples: liberal feminists (Wafiyya Khairyi), leftist (Tharwat Abaza), conservative (Mohammed Fedil), exclusion of the Islamists?
Themes: misery, declining attention on the language, music evoking inner feelings. Melodrama encourages public expressions of emotions and new subjectivities, establishes the middle class hegemony through a gendered division.
Amira case: her life a melodrama. Critics to James Peacock: the emotionality of Egyptian melodramas and the way they thus construct individuals in terms of vivid interior lives is the result of a local effort, developed in the context of Egyptian genres and social circumstances, that is part of the process of trying to produce those individual human psyches that this educated cosmopolitan writer extols.
Iranian scientific life control
Iranian distinctive features:
- fever of competitions;
- self reflexivity, increasing individualism, affecting the family, increasing rivalry on subjectivity;
- the reinforcement of regional rivalries
A “scientific management of life”: not only a totalitarian programme but a complex combination of social forces. This process of individualization restores the continuities from the private to the public sphere, reinforcing rationalism and conformism.
“Life politics” or “biopolitics”: this interaction between competitive practices and the processes of rationalisation, commercialisation, individualisation and creation of a differentiated public space, both in the geographical sense and from the point of view of social categories and the two sexes, reveal the emergence of what Anthony Giddens calls ‘life politics’, and Michel Foucault ‘biopolitics’.
Critics: the research of Adelkhah ends without analysing the effects of the years of Reformism on the public sphere. Questions: Does the embodiment of the Egyptian melodrama is a consequence of a rooted system of kinship more than a reactivation of these relations? Does the scientific control of lives within the Islamic Republic facilitate the emergences of the ‘progressive’ Iranian civil society?