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Reading: Necropolitics in Sinan Antoon’s The Corpse Washer

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Necropolitics in Sinan Antoon’s The Corpse Washer

Authors:

José M. Yebra ,

University of Zaragoza, ES
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Alfonso Revilla

University of Zaragoza, ES
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Abstract

Sinan Antoon’s The Corpse Washer (2013) constitutes an account of post-war Iraq narrated by an Iraqi youth and authored by an Iraqi émigré. It is thus a valuable alternative to American fiction on the conflict and its aftermath. From this premise, this article explores how the myth of the trauma hero, which has whitewashed the American invasion in redemptive terms, is here replaced by a more nuanced discourse. Mbembe’s necropolitics—i.e. the “subjugation of life to the power of death” (2003: 39)—helps explain the story of Jawad, the corpse washer of the title, and of Iraq as one of dehumanization, wounding and spatialization inflicted by Western supremacy and alleged ‘rationality.’ The novel challenges Western necropolitics in two main ways: Iraqi stereotypes are questioned, especially their identification with terrorism and martyrdom. On the other hand, surrealism and gothic elements help the protagonist and his country to sublimate the trauma derived from American neocolonial politics. 

DOI: https://doi.org/10.35360/njes.741
How to Cite: Yebra, J.M. and Revilla, A., 2022. Necropolitics in Sinan Antoon’s The Corpse Washer. Nordic Journal of English Studies, 21(1), pp.96–114. DOI: http://doi.org/10.35360/njes.741
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Published on 27 May 2022.

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