2010 Events

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

Annual American Anthropological Association Meeting Panel: "Iraq in Context: Environment, Technology, and Humanitarianism in the Post-2003 Field"

Date: Friday, November 19, 2010

Location: New Orleans, Louisiana

Description: This panel re-calibrates contemporary scholarly engagement with Iraq and the surrounding context of war. The panel does so by dwelling in the ethnographic, by highlighting recent fieldwork conducted in Iraq, in communities of Iraqis living abroad, and in areas where recently displaced Iraqis have found refuge. The panel considers the environment as a critical dimension of war, from post-2003 ecological conservation movements to foreign subterranean prospecting in oil. Seeking to contextualize Iraqi experience of the war and its political implications, the panel situates the conflict both historically and regionally.

In so doing, the panel suggests a different entry point for engagement: Iraqi experience. In much scholarship about Iraq of late, the country has become the new figurative ground upon which to refine and re-assess theories of empire, technology, militarization, and human rights. Built upon the archive of U.S. government documents and media reporting, sources that were immediately available outside of Iraq and the region, this scholarship unwittingly reinforces the architecture of the war itself wherein expertise is formulated outside of Iraq, but acts within. This panel troubles such divisions by restoring the ethnographic and critically evaluating the relations of inside and outside. Specifically, the panel asks how the experience of life and war in Iraq is imbricated in parallel political processes taking shape outside its national bounds.

Papers examine scientific expeditions in the Iraqi marshes, the experience of refuge and exile, the dismissal of Iraq as politically ungovernable, Iraqi geneaology as political protest, the politics of oil, and the militarization of humanitarianism. The panel points to the ways in which social justice movements, like environmentalism and humanitarian relief, operate in current day Iraq as a language of altruism that both rationalizes and mystifies political power. Papers assess the character of collaboration between military, humanitarians, foreign governments, and private investors. Panelists evaluate the ways in which bodies are acted upon and react to policies heavily circumscribing movements of Iraqis outside of the country. The panel assesses the current conflict as a regional affair and looks specifically at the ways in which oil complicates Iran-Iraq relations. By critically engaging Iraq from an ethnographic and archival perspective, this panel demonstrates how new configurations of empire, technology, militarization, and human rights are formed in practice by focusing its analytic lens on the intimacies that undergird formations of power.

Participants & Papers:

Ayça Çubukçu, Harvard University, "Iraq, the Missing Subject"

Saleem Al-Bahloly, University of California, Berkeley, "The Human and Its Fragments: The Ethnography of Forms in Post-War Iraq"

Omar Dewachi, American University of Beirut, "Mandatory Medicine: Biopolitical Imaginarie(s) and the Technologies of Governability of the Modern Iraqi State"

Zainab Saleh, Columbia University, "Exilic Narratives: Self-Identification among Iraqis in the U.K."

Mona Damluji, University of California, Berkeley, "Petroleum's Promise: Foreign Oil Companies and the Construction of Iraqi Modernity, 1951–1958"

Katayoun Shafiee, New York University, "Reassembling Iraq-in-Context: Mobilizing Petro-politics in Iran and Iraq"

Bridget Guarasci, University of Michigan, "The National Park: Environment as Political Power in Iraq's Marshes"



Ilana Feldman on Human Rights and Humanitarianism

Stefania Pandolfo on Imagination, Aesthetics, and Form

Nadia Abu El-Haj on Technology and Political Power


Additional Information: Please see Bridget Guarasci's article in the Spring 2011 TAARII Newsletter, Issue 06-01.



TAARII Reception, Annual Middle East Studies Association meeting

Date: Saturday, November 20, 2010, 7:00–9:00 p.m.

Location: America's Cup C at the Manchester Grand Hyatt, San Diego, California

Description: An opportunity to meet other members of the TAARII community and share conversation about past and future research related to Iraq. Join us for wine and cheese in room America's Cup C at the Manchester Grand Hyatt. All TAARII Fellows, Board Members, Individual Members, and Friends are welcome.


WOCMES Panel: “Iraq in the 1990s: Cultural and Political Trends”

Date: Monday, July 19, 2010 (5:00–7:00 p.m.)

Location: Barcelona, Spain

Description: At the third World Congress of Middle Eastern Studies (WOCMES) in Barcelona, TAARII Board Member, Dina Khoury (George Washington University), will chair the panel “Iraq in the 1990s: Cultural and Political Trends,” which included presenters Ali Bader, Haider Saeed, Dhiaa al-Asadi, and Joseph Sassoon.

Much of the writing and analyses of 1990s Iraq focuses on the Sanctions and their impact, the neo-tribal policies of the regime, and the disintegration of the state. The Iraq of the 1990s is a dystopia shaped by criminal state practices, tribal politics and pauperized populations. While there is much that is true in this picture of Iraq, there is very little in the literature that allows us to understand how Iraqis coped and at times flourished within the constraints created by the regime and the sanctions. By bringing together Iraqi intellectuals and scholars of different backgrounds and persuasions who lived in Iraq in the 1990s or who write on Iraq in that period, this panel attempts to move the discussion of the period away from an analysis of high politics to the ways in which different segments on the Iraqi population survived. Ali Bader is one of the leading intellectuals of the period. Author of several novels, some of them award winning, he has been the leading proponent and leader of a group of intellectuals of the 1990s who argue for the emergence of a different kind of intellectual movement in the absence of strong state controls over the institutions of culture. In his submission to this panel, he attempts to flesh how his generation differed from their predecessors and explores the reasons behind this difference. Haider Saeed, another of the group of intellectuals in the 1990s, argues that the absence of state controls in the 1990s, created the opportunity for Iraqi intellectuals, for the first time, to move away from the central question of the relationship of the intellectual to the state to a more critical assessment of the cultural history of Iraq. Drawing on the works European intellectuals who write critical and linguistic theories, Iraqi intellectuals of the 1990s sought to move away from the agendas set up by their predecessors on the struggle between modernity and tradition, authenticity and imitation, to a critical analysis of the modernization project itself. Dhiaa al-Asadi, a Ph.D. candidate at Birmingham University, an intellectual who had been involved in the redefinition of Shi’i practice and political thought through his reading and work with Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr in the 1990s, examines the socio-activism of the Sadrist movement in the 90s and argues that it constituted a paradigm shift in modern political Shi’ism. Dr. Joseph Sassoon, Lecturer at Georgetown University, will draw on his research in the Ba’th Party Regional Command Archives, to discuss the transformation in the practices of the Ba’th party at the local level, focusing particularly on its cultural policies in regional offices. He will look at the list of books available to party members at local libraries to arrive at certain conclusion on the cultural practices of the Ba’th party.

Additional Information: Please see the WOCMES website ( for more information on the panel.

“Devastation and Controversy: Consequences of the U.S. Invasion for Iraqi Archives and Archival Documents since 2003”

Date: April 27, 2010

Location: Center for Middle East Studies, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois

Description: In his lecture, Jeff Spurr chronicled damage done to specific collections, the state of efforts to rehabilitate existing institutions, and case studies of ongoing controversies over seized documents.



TAARII Proposal-Writing Workshop

Date: January 7–8, 2010

Location: Amman, Jordan

Description: TAARII Executive Director, Dr. Stephanie Platz, and TAARII Senior Scholar, Dr. Lucine Taminian, co-directed a workshop at the Columbia University Middle East Research Center (CUMERC) in Amman, Jordan, on research proposal writing. Sponsored by The Institute of International Education and the Scholar Rescue Fund, the bilingual workshop in the IIE Visiting Professor Program covered topics that included peer review and the nature of research proposals; the structure of a proposal; and the development of a successful proposal and Curriculum Vita. The two-day workshop also entailed critiques of actual work and breakout sessions for discussion. More than fifty senior scholars from Iraq participated.

Additional Information: Please see “TAARII Proposal-Writing Workshop” in the Spring 2010 TAARII Newsletter, Issue 05-01.