Fetishization of the Disabled War Veterans in Iran through the Ideological Construction of “Living Martyrs”

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Sona Kazemi https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7026-8649


Middle East, Iran, Iraq, war, transnational, martyrdom


This paper explores the ways in which disability gets fetishized in the global context using the case study of disabled war veterans in Iran who were injured during the Iran-Iraq war. Relying on a Disability Studies' lens, I analyze the ways in which the Iranian state after the Iran-Iraq war has “dealt” with its disabled veteran and civilian population. The paper argues that since the war ended in 1988, the Iranian state has engaged in what I call “fetishizing” the disability of its injured population, both veterans and civilians, in several ideological ways. Throughout this paper I indicate how the state has managed to use the disabled bodies of the injured survivors as a way to guarantee its survival by portraying them as an ideological construct called “living martyrs,” as opposed to disabled humans in need of physical and affective care. Additionally, the paper discusses how the injured survivors’ disability has too been fetishized in the global context during and after the war, as the world has remained silent in the face of violent chemical attacks on Iran and Iraqi Kurdistan.


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