A. OBJECT DESCRIPTION: THE MAGIC FLYING CARPET (in films, toys, visual representations)
– bright and colourful (purples, reds, blues, yellows all together)
– never flat, always in the air, slightly bent, going in some direction
– carpet usually has designs, patterns
– designs usuall have ‘dome-like’ or circular images and patterns
– usually carry some nobility (prince, princesses) 0n top
– a medium of transportation–usually represents a frozen in-between space
B. OBJECT’S HISTORICAL CONTEXT
-enters Western literary and cultural imagination through the translations of One Thousand and One Nights and Arabian Nights translated into French by Antoine Galland from Syrian sources between 1704-1711
– Israel’s 1949 project called “Operation Magic Carpet” which airlifted thousands of Yemenite Jews from ‘wandering in Arabian deserts’ and transported them to Israel where they were taught ‘civilized’ manners and customs.
– 1992 Walt Disney release of the film Aladdin and the role of the magic carpet in there alongside protests by American-Arab Anti Discrimination Committee (ADC) concerning the lyrics in the song ‘Arabian Nights’
– Magic Flying carpet ride in Disneyland, Florida
– magic carpets used in designing of restaurants/clubs that represent Arab/ Middle Eastern culture. Mostly in tourist attractions near places like Disneyland.
C. OBJECT’S SOCIAL AND CULTURAL CONTEXT
– Edward Said’s Orientalism written in 1977 thoroughly argues about the empirical effects of Orientalist scholarship (such as the translations above…i.e. ‘knowing’ the East leads to controlling the East- using Foucaudian model of knowledge=power)
– Said argues that Orientalist scholarship was not merely abstractions or fantasies but rather had material effects of conquest and colonialism
D. RESEARCH QUESTION
i) is the magic flying carpet an object with material qualities?
ii) if so, how has the magic flying carpet affected diasporic identity?
iii) keeping in mind that the magic flying carpet is a medium of representation, has its social and cultural affects remained stationary?