Affect, Spatial Practices, and the City in Agatha Christie's "They Came to Baghdad"


Türe Abacı Ö.

Kültür Araştırmaları Dergisi, ss.1-15, 2020 (Hakemli Üniversite Dergisi)

  • Basım Tarihi: 2020
  • Doi Numarası: 10.46250/kulturder.747566
  • Dergi Adı: Kültür Araştırmaları Dergisi
  • Sayfa Sayıları: ss.1-15

Özet

They Came to Baghdad (1951), one of Agatha Christie’s mid-career books, could be categorized as a political thriller that unravels the ideological conflicts during the early Cold War period and the fight over Iraqi oil reserves. The scenes of the novel, like an adventure movie alter from a spy hunt to an archaeological theme, then to a romance, and finally a murder story and a thriller, in which fear comes up unexpectedly. Particularly, the setting provides the grounds for the female protagonist of the novel, Victoria Jones, to cross-cultural and social boundaries and explore the space as a naïve pseudo-spy working for the international forces in Baghdad. By the lens of Nigel Thrift’s concept of “affective cities” and “spatialities of feeling,” this paper aims to explore how the setting of the novel—Baghdad—creates an intensive field of conflicting cultural and social forces that inscribe the female body, which runs in parallel with the narrative tactics Christie uses in revealing the affective emplacements of fear, suspicion, increasing levels of anxiety and insecurity in the cityscape. This paper, in other words, offers a spatial analysis of the novel in order to explore how the cityscape is mobilized and altered by the shifting perceptions of it by Victoria Jones while she defies the patriarchal demarcations of space. Through her adventures, it becomes possible to comprehend how power is distributed and circulated within this Middle Eastern society.    

They Came to Baghdad (1951), one of Agatha Christie’s mid-career books, could be categorized as a political thriller that unravels the ideological conflicts during the early Cold War period and the fight over Iraqi oil reserves. The scenes of the novel, like an adventure movie alter from a spy hunt to an archaeological theme, then to a romance, and finally a murder story and a thriller, in which fear comes up unexpectedly. Particularly, the setting provides the grounds for the female protagonist of the novel, Victoria Jones, to cross-cultural and social boundaries and explore the space as a naïve pseudo-spy working for the international forces in Baghdad. By the lens of Nigel Thrift’s concept of “affective cities” and “spatialities of feeling,” this paper aims to explore how the setting of the novel—Baghdad—creates an intensive field of conflicting cultural and social forces that inscribe the female body, which runs in parallel with the narrative tactics Christie uses in revealing the affective emplacements of fear, suspicion, increasing levels of anxiety and insecurity in the cityscape. This paper, in other words, offers a spatial analysis of the novel in order to explore how the cityscape is mobilized and altered by the shifting perceptions of it by Victoria Jones while she defies the patriarchal demarcations of space. Through her adventures, it becomes possible to comprehend how power is distributed and circulated within this Middle Eastern society.