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Concrete stories, decomposing fictions: Body parts and body politics in Ahmed Saadawi’s Frankenstein in Baghdad

Davies, D. ORCID: 0000-0002-3584-5789 (2020). Concrete stories, decomposing fictions: Body parts and body politics in Ahmed Saadawi’s Frankenstein in Baghdad. Interventions, 23(6), pp. 922-940. doi: 10.1080/1369801x.2020.1816851


This essay reads the English translation of Ahmed Saadawi’s novel Frankenstein in Baghdad (2018) to explore the “concrete stories” and “infrastructural narratives” devised by the US military in support of its occupation of Baghdad. By stitching together a city and society littered with composing and decomposing fictions, Saadawi’s novel reveals how biopolitical governance produces, contra the hegemonic US war story of security consolidation and societal stabilization, pervasive insecurity instead. Saadawi’s “decomposing fictions”, as I call them, operate on three homologous terrains: the (de)composition of the city; the (de)composition of the body; and the (de)composition of the narrative itself. Through this three-tired conflation, Saadawi shows how body parts are biopolitical, and how narratives actively and materially reshape human bodies and urban infrastructures. The essay therefore argues that the novel aligns with a critical posthumanist perspective, one that allows for a more rigorous consideration of narrative systems (including fictions) as constitutive of and impactful upon human and non-human bodies and urban infrastructures than other concepts, such as “planned violence”, have so far allowed. By theorizing a more complex relationship between narrative form and the built environment in the contexts of militarized colonial and biopolitical urban governance, the essay shows how Saadawi’s novel not only challenges the “imaginative geographies” of the colonial present, but its material infrastructures as well.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies on 9 Sep 2020, available online:
Publisher Keywords: biopolitics, Baghdad, Ahmed Saadawi, Frankenstein, infrastructure, narrative
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DS Asia
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
J Political Science
J Political Science > JV Colonies and colonization. Emigration and immigration. International migration
Departments: School of Communication & Creativity > Media, Culture & Creative Industries > English, Publishing & Creative Writing
SWORD Depositor:
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