The Maps of identity in Frankenstein in Baghdad: National Spectrum of Iraq in Post-2003

Rawad Alhashmi


This article focuses on the English translation of Ahmed Saadawi’s Frankenstein in Baghdad (2018), emphasizing the direct connection between home and identity in Iraq against the backdrop of colonial Baghdad. Saadawi’s text manifests a sophisticated and intricate allegory of Iraqi society in terms of identity and socio-political upheaval in the aftermath of the American invasion of Iraq in 2003. Through the metaphor of “the Whatsitsname,” which comprises different ethnicities of the Iraqi people, Saadawi questions the quintessence of Iraqi identity elucidated as fragmented parts of a human body with one soul. I argue that by relying on the metaphoric references, Saadawi establishes the Whatsitsname as a national figure by addressing Iraqi identity on multiple levels: linguistically, historically, culturally, and archeologically. To that end, I seek to underscore the direct relationship between ‘home’ and identity in Saadawi’s text with emphasis on the linguistic designation of the Whatsitsname, the historical significance and cultural diversity of Baghdad, as well as the archaeological heritage of Iraq. In this way, Saadawi embodies the collective identity of the entire Iraqi community in a cogent spectrum and aims to reconstruct the Iraqi identity in post-2003, something that the Iraqi government has failed to establish or recognize. Here, Saadawi constructs Iraqi identity narratives in post-2003 by representing the entire spectrum of Iraq against the backdrop of sectarian violence, political decay, displacement, war, and occupation.


Iraqi novel, The Whatsitsname, Frankenstein, Identity, Metaphor, Archaeology

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