The Conflict in the Middle East and the Concept of Exile as Reflected in Places and Names: On War, Revolution, and Returning, The Beekeeper, and Look: Poems
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The theme of exile has been present in literature from its very beginning. Today, the notions of global migration and refugees are more urgent and relevant than they have ever been. As of the end of 2021, more than 80 million people have been forced to leave their countries for various political, economic, and social reasons including war, famine, and human rights violations. The Middle East is one of the regions where a considerable number of people are forced to exile. Although exile is undoubtedly a chaotic and a challenging experience that renders individuals homeless, forlorn, and alien, from the point of view of Edward Said, it can also offer numerous benefits. This thesis, by making use of Said’s approach to exile, examines exile as an enriching experience reflected in American Elliot Ackerman’s Places and Names: On War, Revolution, and Returning (2019), Iraqi American Dunya Mikhail’s The Beekeeper (2018), and Iranian American Solmaz Sharif’s Look: Poems (2016). Although these authors have different homelands and backgrounds, their exile experiences in the United States bring them together. Scrutinizing these works by focusing respectively on veteran identity, memory, and language, the concept of exile can be analyzed through a multi-faceted approach. In the case of Ackerman, when experienced by a soldier during a war in which the concepts of friend and foe are vital, the exile experience provides the veteran with novel perspectives, offering the ability to compare constructively and see the shared points between seemingly conflicting notions. In Dunya Mikhail’s work, the exile experience proves to be a beneficial experience that enables her to transcend both physical and temporal borders when analyzed through a memory-centred approach. Finally, an analysis of Solmaz Sharif’s poetry with a focus on language presents how daily language is exposed to violence by US political and military institutions. Deconstructing the military language and US military policies has only been possible with her newly gained perspectives as a result of her exile experience.