T. C. Erciyes University Turkey
The so-called “third world” has often experienced modernity and its version of the “city” in some of their most grotesque forms where Iran has not been an exception. In other words, North-Atlantic powers have historically played the midwife for a father-figure-like modernity and its “third world” concubines, the result of which has been the birth of “monstrosities” of all kinds. Focusing mainly on the Iago-Roderigo-Othello trio in Othello (ca. 1603–4) and the relationship of a titular hero and those who besiege him in Halu (1963) by contemporary Iranian dramatist Ali Nassirian (b. 1935), the present article contextualises these play-texts and tries to examine the broader social frameworks which gave rise, amongst others, to socio-economic, political, and cultural contradictions. Whilst each of these dramas may be seen as the product of the distinct version of modernity which informed it, the article puts forward the thesis that Othello, as the epitome of Eurocentric modernity, is only seemingly a “domestic” play addressing a “micro-politics of transition” in the West from feudalism to capitalism; the play’s major undercurrent, the article further argues, concerns a wider “macro-politics of empire-building” by the West which subsequently dictated overall modernisation routes to peripheral, hence underdeveloped, countries like Iran. The article also sees Nassirian’s work – which, to follow Adorno’s theorising, at the level of form manifests many social contradictions prevalent in post-“White Revolution” Iranian society–as an instance of a “lopsided” modernity stemming from Iagoesque/Faustian projects orchestrated by these powers to lead all the “moors” by the nose.
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