Zuleikha Awakens the Identity: How the TV Series's Debates Become 'Battles for History'

Marat Safarov

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.24848/islmlg.10.1.06

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The article analyzes the viewer's perception of the TV series released in spring 2020 called "Zuleikha Opens Her Eyes," based on the same-name novel by Guzel Yakhina. Like the book's publication, the TV adaptation led to sharp polemics in Tatarstan and among Tatars living outside the republic. The TV adaptation demonstrated ethnic-identity elements, including acceptable boundaries and forms of demonstration of "Tatar" identity outside of the Tatar public. The debates exposed the reflection on the idealized perspective of the Tatar past. The "battles for history" in the Tatar discourse on the novel and the TV series become more than just a polemic on the interpretation of a particular event or period of history; it also became a battleground for monopolizing the interpretation of the abstract "past" by different sides. Opponents in debates relied on arguments based on the literary sources or their family narratives while rejecting narratives contradicting their picture of the world.


series; novel; literature; memory; identity; village; Tatars; Islam


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.24848/islmlg.10.1.06