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AccueilAbstracta IranicaVolume 37-38-3912. Monde iranien, période contem...Zuzanna Olszewska. The Pearl of D...

Zuzanna Olszewska

Zuzanna Olszewska. The Pearl of Dari: Poetry and Personhood among Young Afghans in Iran

Compte-rendu réalisé par Laetitia Nanquette
Référence(s) :

Zuzanna Olszewska. The Pearl of Dari: Poetry and Personhood among Young Afghans in Iran. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2015, 288p. (Public Cultures of the Middle East and North Africa)

Texte intégral

1This book is an ethnographic study of a circle of Afghan poets in the Iranian city of Mashhad, who developed the literary institute “Pearl of Dari” (Dorr-e Dari). It astutely shows how they use poetry as a social practice to redefine their identity, position themselves in the Iranian cultural sphere and seek emancipation from widely shared images of Afghans as victim refugees. The focus of the study is on the tensions between the way they conceive and experience personhood. The practice of poetry is very much alive in Persian-speaking countries and this book masterfully shows how it is used and practised. Each chapter extensively quotes and analyses poems by the Afghan poets. Olszewska also narrates vividly her own discoveries and limitations as an anthropologist, giving account of how fieldwork changed her.

2The first two chapters describe the history of the Afghan presence in Iran, the context of the precarious situation of Afghan refugees in post-revolutionary Iran and the development of a class of Afghan intellectuals. Chapter 3 and 4 focus on the Afghan literary institutes in Iran after 1979 and specifically on Dorr-e Dari. The last two chapters detail the use of the topics of love and personhood in their poetry, and the difficult balance the poets must find between traditional ideas of marriage and modern forms of love, and between revelation and concealment.

3This book is an essential resource for scholars of contemporary Persian literature and of contemporary Iranian society, as well as for scholars interested in innovative literary history.

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Référence électronique

Laetitia Nanquette. Zuzanna Olszewska, « Zuzanna Olszewska. The Pearl of Dari: Poetry and Personhood among Young Afghans in Iran », Abstracta Iranica [En ligne], Volume 37-38-39 | 2018, document 6, mis en ligne le 30 décembre 2018, consulté le 30 novembre 2020. URL : ; DOI :

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