Semiotics of Power and Knowledge in Nasir Khusrow's Travelogue

Document Type : Research Papers


1 Hormozgan University

2 zand institute of higher education


Nasir Khosrow embarks upon a seven year journey in order to come to terms with his spiritual crisis. The quest was the inevitable outcome of the tensions and conflicts between Nasir and the institutionalized forms of power and knowledge. The tensions lead to the formation of a series of binary oppositions—verbal and nonverbal—within the text of his travelogue. The researchers have analyzed the text of Nasir's travelogue with a semiotic approach and have unearthed the binarized structure that underlies Nasir's report. The objective world around him is in contrast with the world he idealizes in his subjective mind, he draws a boundary line between the transient nature of his journey and the timeless journey he would undertake after death, the civilized cityscapes mark a sharp contrast with the savagery of the desert in which he has to reside temporarily. Another binary is formed when Nasir distinguishes his dietary habits from those of bedouins. The pictorial appeal of Nasir's painting comes to be contrasted with the authority of his words. These binary oppositions are directly related to Nasir's preoccupation with the concept of power (the kingdom and the court) and knowledge (institutionalized schooling and hypocritical erudition). He wishes to leave behind the present forms of power and knowledge in favor of an idealized version of the two. Separation from the familiar, adventure, and return form a circular structure. Power and knowledge are sometimes combined and sometimes function as separate motifs. On his return journey, Nasir, in order to survive, has to take refuge in the very institutions and the very bureaucratic system that he initially left behind.


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