Pardis MahdaviDec 20, 2023
To hyphenate or not to hyphenate has been a central point of controversy since before the imprinting of the first Gutenberg Bible. And yet, the hyphen has persisted, bringing and bridging new words and concepts.
Hyphen (Bloomsbury, 2021) by Dr. Pardis Mahdavi is part of the Object Lessons series and follows the story of the hyphen from antiquity-"Hyphen” is derived from an ancient Greek word meaning “to tie together” -to the present, but also uncovers the politics of the hyphen and the role it plays in creating identities. The journey of this humble piece of connective punctuation reveals the quiet power of an orthographic concept to speak to the travails of hyphenated individuals all over the world. Hyphen is ultimately a compelling story about the powerful ways that language and identity intertwine.
Mahdavi-herself a hyphenated Iranian-American-weaves in her own experiences struggling to find a sense of self amidst feelings of betwixt and between. Through stories of the author and three other individuals, Hyphen collectively considers how to navigate, articulate, and empower new identities.
This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose forthcoming book focuses on post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war contexts, with qualitative analysis of the Angolan and Mozambican civil wars.