2011 Events

The following events were all sponsored or co-sponsored by TAARII.

TAARII Reception at MESA

Date: December 3, 2011

Location: Park Tower Suite 8222, Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Description: General reception for individuals interested in TAARII, Iraq, and/or Iraqi/Mesopotamian Studies at the Middle East Studies Association Annual Meeting.

TAARII-Sponsored MESA Panel: “Baghdad 1950s + 50: Memory, Space & Politics

Date: Thursday, December 1, 2011

Location: Annual Meeting of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA)

Description: This panel was organized by Mina Marefat for the Middle East Studies Association annual meeting. Panel members included Mina Marefat, Bassam Yousif, Magnus Bernardsson, Aline Schlaepfer, and Caecilia Pieri.

Baghdad remains a city of complexity and contradiction. Ravaged by war that has dominated much of the last decade, the city today is a blurry blend of tanks, tan colored buildings and deadly explosions, a city at once remote and ever-present in daily Western media. Can this once bustling cultural hub survive? Fifty-some years ago, Baghdad and Iraq were the focus of world media attention when a bloody coup replaced the still nascent Hashemite kingdom with a military regime. It was an abrupt end to an extraordinary array of cultural and economic developments that took place in the 1950s when a large part of the newly acquired oil revenue was dedicated to pioneering projects putting Iraq at the forefront of developing nations. Was the legacy of Hashemite Iraq erased from its capital? While many of the projects envisioned for Baghdad never materialized or were interrupted, remarkably some continued, albeit morphed by the decisions of prevailing political powers. Spatially, then and now, Baghdad remains the mirror of the nation reflecting the political power structure but nevertheless offering rare glimpses of the intellectual, cultural and artistic spirit of a people oppressed, but not defeated.

This interdisciplinary, international panel brings together scholars whose rigorous research has uncovered new insights into the pioneering spirit of Iraq and Baghdad from the 1950s into the present, recording its architectural, spatial, intellectual and cultural life, often hidden within the city's recent turbulent political history. The panel fast-forwards into the present embattled city with striking new and little known views of a city under siege to uncover perhaps a subversive expression of creativity. The panel thus continues and expands into the present a stimulating discussion that emerged at a memorable MESA session five years ago. Each of the panelists are leading experts in their field whose original and well-documented research has received peer recognition. Each paper represents a different lens through which the city of Baghdad can be viewed, interpreted, and remembered.

Additional Information: For information on the panel from MESA five years ago, see "Remembering 1950s Baghdad," written by Mina Marefat and Caecilia Pieri in the Spring 2007 TAARII Newsletter, Issue 02-01.

TAARII Reception at ASOR

Date: November 18, 6:30 p.m.

Location: Essex Room, The Westin St. Francis, San Francisco, California

Description: General reception for individuals interested in TAARII, Iraq, and/or Mesopotamian Studies at the American Society for Oriental Research annual meeting.


TAARII-Sponsored Lecture Tour: “The Queens' Tombs at Nimrud,” Dr. Muzahim Mahmoud Hussein, Former Director of Antiquities in Nineveh Province and Chief Excavator at Nimrud

Date: November 12–December 3, 2011

Location: University of Chicago, American Schools of Oriental Research annual meeting, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), George Washington University, University of Pennsylvania, & Columbia University

Description: This lecture, "The Queens' Tombs at Nimrud," by the archaeologist who was for years the director of the Nimrud excavations, centered on the Queens' Tombs excavated in the family quarters of the Northwest Palace at Nimrud. These tombs furnished evidence for the first time of the royal women in ancient Assyria, with inscriptions identifying individuals. The tombs, most of which were intact, rivaled King Tut’s tomb in terms of artifacts of gold, silver, bronze, rock crystal, precious stones, and composite objects. The styles represented showed that the objects were of Assyrian, Iranian, Levantine, and other origins. The jewelry was especially important in revealing an Assyrian style that heretofore has only been hinted at.

Muzahim Mahmood Hussein was a staff member of the Iraqi Department of Antiquities (later the State Board of Antiquities and Heritage) for 41 years. He participated in numerous excavations and restoration projects, especially in northern Iraq. When a major exhibition of Mesopotamian antiquities toured Japan in the 1980s, he was the chief Iraqi Antiquities representative. In 1989, while conducting excavations at Nimrud, he discovered and excavated the Queens’ Tombs in the Northwest Palace. He has published 25 articles and books on archaeology, including an Arabic account of the Queens’ Tombs. A full-color English-language monograph on his discoveries is in press at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago.

Additional Information: For more information, please see the Spring 2012 TAARII Newsletter, Issue 07-01.



Conference: “Iraq under the Sanctions: Economic, Political, Social, and Cultural Effects”

Date: September 23–25, 2011

Location: Century Park Hotel, Amman, Jordan

Description: Eighteen scholars — six from the U.S., five from Iraq, one each from France, Germany, and Britain, and four Iraqis residing in Jordan — presented papers that examined the political, economic, social, and cultural consequences of the Sanctions. One of the conference's keynote speakers was Hans von Sponeck, a former U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq and author of A Different Kind of War (2006). The second keynote presenter was Joy Gordon, a philosopher and ethicist at Fairfield University and author of Invisible War (2010).

Additional Information: Co-sponsored by the British Institute for the Study of Iraq (BISI). Please see the Fall 2011 TAARII Newsletter, Issue 06-02 for photos and a report from the conference.


“The Politics of Population Movements in Iraq: Taking the Long View”

Date: Thursday, March 10, 2011, 3:30 p.m.

Location: Pick Ground Floor Lounge, University of Chicago

Description: TAARII and the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Chicago are co-sponsoring this talk by Géraldine Chatelard, an associate researcher at the French Institute for the Near East (Ifpo) in Amman, Jordan. Her most recent research examines international migration from Iraq since 1990 in a changing context characterised by more insecurity in Iraq and more restrictions on international mobility. Since 1998, she has undertaken research among Iraqi exiles, migrants and refugees in over ten different countries in the Middle East (Jordan, Syria, Iran, Pakistan, Yemen) and Europe. From 2001 to 2004, she was a postdoctoral Marie Curie Fellow with the Mediterranean Programme at the European University Institute in Florence researching trends of migration from Iraq into Europe. She is currently working on a monograph on migration from Iraq that covers the period 1990 to today.