Narrating Self, Depicting the Other

Self-Realisation and Trauma, Belonging and Diaspora in the Works of Shamsia Hassani and Keyvan Shovir




The American philosopher and gender theorist Judith Butler believes that 'our capacity to reflect upon ourselves, to tell the truth about ourselves, is correspondingly limited by what the discourse, the regime, cannot allow into speakability' (Giving an Account of Oneself). This review analyses how Shamissa Hassani (b.1988), the first female graffiti artist of Afghanistan, and Keyvan Shovir (b. 1985), the first postrevolutionary graffiti artist of Iran, manifest Butler’s view of giving an account of oneself. I argue that Hassani and Shovir have used their arts as a means of speakability and self-reflection in the restricted discourses of their home countries. I conclude that art manifests the possibility of self-revelation and reclaiming one’s voice beyond the restricted social discourses or diaspora.


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Author Biography

Delaram Hosseinioun, Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies, University of Warwick

Delaram Hosseinioun received her first MA in Literary Criticism from the University of Exeter and her second MA in Cultural Studies from KU Leuven University in Belgium. In her work as a researcher and curator, as well as her PhD project at Utrecht University, Hosseinioun has adopted several interdisciplinary narratives, to analyse the works of Persian female artists from 1960 to 2020. She draws from Gender Studies theories in French Psychoanalysis, the works of Judith Butler, Helene Cixous, and modern Russian literary philosophy, mainly Michael Bakhtin. She attempts to decipher artworks as pictorial dialogues and in the process hopes to surpass the sociocultural norms imposed on women. Hosseinioun aims to show the universality of the feminine in arts of contemporary female artists of the MENA region in the diaspora.

Image 5: by Shamsia Hassani