Negotiating and marketing Muslim identity for the West: Navid Kermani's 'Kurzmitteilung'
This essay analyses Navid Kermani’s literary engagement with the interaction between Germans and Islam in 'Kurzmitteilung' (2007). The focus is on the novel’s treatment of the marketing of Islam for a German audience by its German-Iranian male protagonist, an event manager. Kermani (b. 1967 in Germany of Iranian parentage) is a scholar of Islamic Studies as well as a writer. He offers a differentiated view on Islam as object of Western counteridentification. The novel sceptically examines today’s West in which we can no longer be certain of who we are and in which commerce serves as ‘new’ religion. 'Kurzmitteilung' is set after the London suicide bomb attacks on 7 July 2005: here, Kermani’s protagonist’s Iranian identity, which many non-Muslims do not recognise, but which he contrasts with the identity of Arabs who plant bombs in the West, comes to the fore. My essay examines how the novel reflects on the narrator’s struggles between wanting to be truthful to his Muslim roots and using his exotic ‘value’, both commercially and interpersonally, or dismissing Islam altogether (he turns to Scientology). This reflects Kermani’s critical exploration of Western cultural and religious identification in relation to Islam after ‘9/11’ and ‘7/7’.A revised version of a paper originally presented as the Silvia Naish Post-Doctoral Fellow's Lecture under the title 'Islam as Commercialized Object in Navid Kermani's "Kurzmitteilung"' at the IGRS in December 2008.
Matthes, Frauke (2009) Negotiating and marketing Muslim identity for the West: Navid Kermani's 'Kurzmitteilung'. In: Silvia Naish Post-Doctoral Fellow's Lecture, 2008, IGRS. (Unpublished)
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