TAARII Resident Director Participates in Oral History Workshop in Tunisia

In May 2014, TAARII’s Resident Director, Lucine Taminian, who oversees TAARII’s Iraqi Oral History Project, participated in the Memory and Action Workshop in Tunisia organized by the Coalition of Sites of Conscience. The Coalition is a global network of more than 185 institutions, including museums and memorial sites (old prisons, mass killing sites, sites of torture, etc.), which promotes the use of oral history to connect memory to action. The workshop was organized in partnership with the Tunisian Site of Conscience, the Association for Justice and Rehabilitation, and the Mediterranean Forum for Memory. It was attended by representatives of non-governmental organizations from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and South East Asia. Doudou Diene, from the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and Ereshnee Naidu, from the Coalition, also attended the workshop. Shirley Gunn, the executive director of Human Rights Media Center, South Africa, led the workshop sessions on oral history.

The opening session of the Memory and Action workshop in Tunisia, headed by the Tunisian Minster of Transitional Justice (second from right). Seen to his left are Doudou Diene from the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ereshnee Naidu from the Coalition of Sites of Conscience, and Shirley Gunn, executive director of Human Rights Media Center, South Africa.

The opening session of the Memory and Action workshop in Tunisia, headed by the Tunisian Minster of Transitional Justice (second from right). Seen to his left are Doudou Diene from the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ereshnee Naidu from the Coalition of Sites of Conscience, and Shirley Gunn, executive director of Human Rights Media Center, South Africa.

The first two days of the workshop were devoted to discussing the need to document memory in conflict and post-conflict situations, the ethics of documentation, and ways to move from documentation to action. Participants hotly debated the following issues: whose memory should be documented, the selective and changing nature of memory, and the possibility of falsifying/neutralizing memory. Participants agreed that individuals are affected by their surroundings; thus, what is remembered changes through time and space, and what is considered a violation today may not be seen as such in the future. They noted that the media turn memory into a spectacle, such as cowboy movies, and reduce it to the bare bones. Participants also asked: In the process of moving from memory to action, and in turning individual narratives, which usually do not fit together, into collective memory, whose narratives prevail, and whose are overshadowed?

Workshop participants listen to the presentation of Doudou Diene (at center table, second from left) on oral history and human rights.

Workshop participants listen to the presentation of Doudou Diene (at center table, second from left) on oral history and human rights.

In the second part of the workshop, the participants presented their own activities, which use memory to change people’s consciousness. Projects included the Cambodian Youth for Peace Initiative, a community memory-based initiative that transformed the mass killing sites into centers for remembering and dialogue, where youth collect stories of elders and use the narratives to initiate dialogue. Another project, the Tea Plantation Workers Museum in Sri Lanka, uses oral history to enlighten the wider community about the lives of tea plantation workers, many of whom were migrant laborers from Tamil-speaking India. In addition, UMAM Documentation & Research of Lebanon collects, preserves, and publicly promotes narratives on the Lebanese civil war (1975–1990). Participants were interested in TAARII’s Iraqi Oral History Project and the guide that it produced with Columbia Center for Oral History Research.

Participants presented the activities of their centers during the second half of the Memory and Action workshop in Tunisia.

Participants presented the activities of their centers during the second half of the Memory and Action workshop in Tunisia.

Participants of the Memory and Action workshop visited downtown Tunis, the site of the demonstrations during the "Tunisian Spring."

Participants of the Memory and Action workshop visited downtown Tunis, the site of the demonstrations during the “Tunisian Spring.”

Workshop participants visited the headquarters of the previous ruling party, the basement of which was used as a prison. It is now a center for human rights. Shown here are Ereshnee Naidu (right), from the Coalition of Sites of Conscience, and Shirley Gunn (left), from the Human Rights Media Center in South Africa.

Workshop participants visited the headquarters of the previous ruling party, the basement of which was used as a prison. It is now a center for human rights. Shown here are Ereshnee Naidu (right), from the Coalition of Sites of Conscience, and Shirley Gunn (left), from the Human Rights Media Center in South Africa.

TAARII Supports the Blue Shield Statement on the Protection of Iraqi Cultural Heritage Sites

Blue Shield – June 17, 2014
PROTECTION OF IRAQI CULTURAL HERITAGE SITES

Blue Shield is appalled by the great suffering and loss of life in the current fighting in Iraq and expresses great concern about the safety of Iraq’s invaluable cultural and historical heritage.
Blue Shield urges all armed combatants to observe the international laws that protect cultural heritage and to act responsibly, safeguarding the testimony of Iraq’s unique history for the enrichment of future generations.

Iraq is home to some of the world’s oldest and most significant archaeological and cultural sites. Iraq has three UNESCO World Heritage sites and twelve tentative World Heritage sites. Iraq’s museums, particularly the national museum in Baghdad and the regional museum in Mosul, are repositories for countless irreplaceable artefacts that record this unique history.

In the event of international military action, Blue Shield calls on any participating countries to be mindful of obligations under the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and its two Protocols; the 1972 UNESCO Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage; the additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions; and customary international law to avoid targeting cultural heritage sites and repositories and to minimize collateral damage to cultural heritage wherever possible.

Iraq ratified the 1954 Hague Convention and its First Protocol in 1967, thereby acknowledging and committing to the protection and preservation of cultural heritage in the case of armed conflict. Blue Shield urges the international community to help Iraq fulfil its obligations to this Convention and also urges all parties to the conflict to abide by Iraq’s Antiquities Law, Law Number 55 of 2002.

Blue Shield is concerned that archaeological and cultural objects may be removed from museums, libraries, archives, and archaeological sites and placed on the illegal international art market. The actions of all governments in preserving this heritage should be consistent with the terms and spirit of the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, of which there are ninety-six States Parties. Blue Shield implores auction houses and other art outlets to ensure that no illegally exported material is sold.

Blue Shield


Blue Shield is the protective emblem of the 1954 Hague Convention, the basic international treaty formulating rules to protect cultural heritage during armed conflict. The Blue Shield network consists of organizations dealing with museums, archives, libraries, monuments and sites.

Blue Shield intervenes strategically with decisionmakers and relevant international organisations to prevent and to respond to natural and man made disasters.

http://www.blueshield-international.org/cms/en/

http://www.blueshield-international.org/cms/en/press-room

Fellow Update: Sargon Donabed (2010 US TAARII Fellow)

With much gratitude I must thank TAARII for its support in aiding my travels to collect oral interviews on the modern heroic epic of Qatine Gabbara [Qatine the Mighty]. In the year’s timespan, I was able to collect two interviews (one completed in Iraq and one in California) sung in the tribal Tiyari-style by both genders. Both are quite comprehensive in their original Assyrian-Aramaic and with the help of Nineb Lamassu, research assistant at the University of Cambridge, they have both been transliterated into Latin-based font. Furthermore, I was able to find one participant in Toronto, Ontario, a native of the Nerwa-Rekan region of Iraq, who I recorded singing the ballad in the more uncommon Tkhuma flavor. While those verses remembered by the participant were far fewer, they represent a rare poetic version of the epic that exhibits previously unrecorded comedic stanzas. I am currently working on translating the segments collected and continue to search for retainers of the epic as well as any recordings done by other researchers. These oral epics are quintessential cultural histories and are of paramount importance to cultural perseverance and persistence. If anyone is thinking about such work in the future I am willing to aid any researchers on Iraqi Assyrians, folklore, or collecting oral histories especially for the diaspora communities, to the best of my ability.

Click here to listen to Rouel Abdal of Nerwa-Bash interviewed in Toronto by Sargon Donabed in 2010: Mam Rouel Abdal Nerwa-Bash Toronto 5-30-10

Fellow Update: Yasmeen Hanoosh (2005 US TAARII Fellow)

Thanks to TAARII’s support in 2005–2006, my research during that period resulted in three peer-reviewed articles and a doctoral dissertation on the modern Chaldeans, Iraq’s largest Christian minority. As a graduate student at the University of Michigan, being a TAARII fellow helped me research and publish the articles “Tomorrow They Write their Story: Chaldeans in America and the Transforming Narrative of Identities” in Arab Voices in Diaspora: Critical Perspectives on Anglophone Arab Literature, edited by Layla Al Maleh (Amsterdam-New York: Editions Rodopi B.V., 2009), pp. 395–420; “Chaldeans in America: The Shifting Spaces of an Iraqi Minority’s Discourses” in Journal of Associated Graduates in Near Eastern Studies (JAGNES) VI/2 (Spring 2006): 43–57; and “Fighting our Own Battles: Iraqi Chaldeans and the War on Terror” in Arab Detroit 9/11: Life in the Terror Decade, edited by Nabeel Abraham, Sally Howell, and Andrew Shryock (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2011), pp. 126–50.

Support from TAARII helped me conduct fieldwork among the Chaldean and Assyrian communities in Detroit, Chicago, and the transitional countries of Jordan and Syria between 2006 and 2008. The contours of the project I had initially proposed to TAARII in 2005 shifted considerably as a result of this fieldwork and so did the trajectory of my research. Rather than concluding with the single publication I had proposed, the multi-disciplinary project became my doctoral dissertation, which I defended in 2008 under the title “The Politics of Minority: Chaldeans between Iraq and America.” This support in the initial stages of my research was also instrumental in taking my career as a scholar of Iraqi culture and literature further when I became a postgraduate fellow at the Program of Europe in the Middle East/the Middle East in Europe, Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, Germany, in 2009–2010 and later as an assistant professor of Arabic at Portland State University.

Although my research agenda has evolved and expanded in recent years, one conceptual framework that links all of my work is Iraqi modernity, with a strong emphasis on ethno-religious identities. My current research centers on post-2003 literary production in Iraq. My recent publications include “Unnatural Narratives and Transgressing the Normative Discourses of Iraqi History: Translating Murtadā Gzār’s Al-Sayyid Asghar Akbar,Journal of Arabic Literature 44 (2013): 145–70; “Beyond the Trauma of War: Iraqi Literature Today,” Words Without Borders, April 2013 (http://wordswithoutborders.org/article/beyond-the-trauma-of-war-iraqi-literature-today); “Contempt: State Literati vs. Street Literati in Modern Iraq,” Journal of Arabic Literature 43/2–3 (2012): 372–408; and “Universal Shorthand: The Post 9/11 Decade and the War on Terror,” FikrunwaFann 95 (Art and Thought 95) (June 2011): 48–51.

Fellow Update: Tate Paulette (2008 US TAARII Fellow)

I was awarded a TAARII Fellowship in 2008 to support the data collection phase of my dissertation project, an examination of grain storage practices in Early Bronze Age (ca. 3000–2000 BC) Mesopotamia. The funding from TAARII came at a crucial point in the research process and allowed me to broaden the geographical scope of the dissertation significantly. In particular, I was able to cover not only the dry-farming plains of northern Mesopotamia, as originally planned, but also the irrigated lowlands of southern Mesopotamia (i.e., southern Iraq), the region that has produced the most extensive written evidence for centrally managed systems of grain storage and redistribution. The writing phase of this dissertation project is now nearing completion.

While a TAARII Fellow, I took part in the Global Long Term Human Ecodynamics Conference in Eagle Hill, Maine, and was asked to contribute a chapter to a resulting edited volume. My chapter, titled “Domination and Resilience in Bronze Age Mesopotamia,” explores the archaeological and written evidence for environmental hazards and their impacts in Bronze Age (ca. 3000–1200 BC) Mesopotamia. The entire book, Surviving Sudden Environmental Change: Answers from Archaeology (eds. J. Cooper and P. Sheets), can be downloaded free from the University Press of Colorado website.

Surviving Sudden Environmental Change: Answers from Archaeology

In recent years, I have also been involved in a number of other projects dedicated to the archaeology and history of early Mesopotamia. As a member of the Modeling Ancient Settlement Systems (MASS) Project, for example, I took part in the construction of an agent-based computer simulation designed to interrogate the complexities of settlement growth and collapse — and, in a broader sense, human-environment dynamics — in Bronze Age Mesopotamia. I contributed a series of chapters to a recent monograph, Models of Mesopotamian Landscapes (eds. T. J. Wilkinson, McG. Gibson, and M. Widell), dedicated to the MASS Project and published by BAR in 2013. My own chapters, two written as sole author and two as co-author, focus on food consumption, storage, pastoralism, and mobility.

Paulette_book_02

Since 2012, I have also taken a leading role in a unique effort to recreate Mesopotamian beer using authentic equipment, ingredients, and brewing methods. This ongoing project, a collaboration between the Oriental Institute (University of Chicago) and Great Lakes Brewing Company (Cleveland, Ohio), has received a good deal of media attention. Articles have appeared, for example, in the New York Times and the Chicago Tribune, and I have taken part in radio interviews on Radio National (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) and VoiceAmerica. I have presented public lectures about the project at a series of tasting events in Chicago and Cleveland, and events in several other cities are slated for the near future. I am also currently working on a co-authored article that provides a general introduction to beer and brewing in Mesopotamia, as well as a more detailed look at our foray into experimental archaeology.

Brewing Mesopotamian beer. A collaboration between the Oriental Institute (University of Chicago) and Great Lakes Brewing Co. (Cleveland, OH). Tate Paulette adds bappir or "beer bread" to a ceramic fermentation vessel crafted by Brian Zimerle.  (Photo credit: Brian Zimerle)

Brewing Mesopotamian beer. A collaboration between the Oriental Institute (University of Chicago) and Great Lakes Brewing Co. (Cleveland, OH). Tate Paulette adds bappir or “beer bread” to a ceramic fermentation vessel crafted by Brian Zimerle. (Photo credit: Brian Zimerle)

Drinking Mesopotamian beer. Adventurous attendees sample Mesopotamian beer through long straws during a tasting event at Great Lakes Brewing Co. in Cleveland, OH. In the background, a cylinder seal impression from ancient Mesopotamia provides guidance.  (Photo credit: Kathryn Grossman)

Drinking Mesopotamian beer. Adventurous attendees sample Mesopotamian beer through long straws during a tasting event at Great Lakes Brewing Co. in Cleveland, OH. In the background, a cylinder seal impression from ancient Mesopotamia provides guidance. (Photo credit: Kathryn Grossman)

 

TAARII Joins CAORC Directors in Istanbul, Turkey

Directors from 22 of CAORC’s American overseas research centers met in Istanbul, Turkey for a three-day workshop. (Photo courtesy of Barbara A. Porter, ACOR)

Directors from 22 of CAORC’s American overseas research centers met in Istanbul, Turkey, for a three-day workshop (Photo courtesy of Barbara A. Porter, ACOR)

TAARII’s Executive Director, Beth Kangas, and Overseas Director, Lucine Taminian, joined directors of 21 other American overseas research centers and staff of the Council of American Overseas Research Centers (CAORC) for a three-day workshop in Istanbul, Turkey, April 5–8, 2014. The workshop provided the opportunity for directors to share ideas and experiences and to learn tips for fundraising and evaluating programs.

The CAORC workshop overlapped with the Fulbright Near Eastern Affairs (NEA) Directors meeting. TAARII enjoyed the chance to meet with Fulbright staff members of the US embassy in Baghdad to see how we might work together to promote interactions between American and Iraqi scholars.

For more information about CAORC, go to: www.caorc.org.

American overseas research center directors benefitted from sharing experiences and ideas at the Istanbul meeting. Shown here: Eric de Sena (left) of the American Research Center in Sofia (ARCS); Andrew McCarthy, Cyprus American Archaeological Research Institute (CAARI); Beth Kangas (TAARII); Lucine Taminian (TAARII); and Penny Mitchell (right), Palestinian American Research Center (PARC). (Photo courtesy of Barbara A. Porter, ACOR)

American overseas research center directors benefitted from sharing experiences and ideas at the Istanbul meeting. Shown here: Eric de Sena (left) of the American Research Center in Sofia (ARCS); Andrew McCarthy, Cyprus American Archaeological Research Institute (CAARI); Beth Kangas (TAARII); Lucine Taminian (TAARII); and Penny Mitchell (right), Palestinian American Research Center (PARC) (Photo courtesy of Barbara A. Porter, ACOR)

TAARII’s Executive Director, Beth Kangas (right), and Overseas Director, Lucine Taminian (center), thank Monica Clark (left), CAORC program manager, for her assistance to TAARII over the years. Monica left CAORC on April 14 to begin a new position. (Photo courtesy of Barbara A. Porter, ACOR)

TAARII’s Executive Director, Beth Kangas (right), and Overseas Director, Lucine Taminian (center), thank Monica Clark (left), CAORC program manager, for her assistance to TAARII over the years. Monica left CAORC on April 14 to begin a new position (Photo courtesy of Barbara A. Porter, ACOR)

Lunches provided an opportunity for AORC directors to interact informally with each other and Fulbright Near Eastern Affairs (NEA) directors. Shown here: Beth Kangas (left) (TAARII); Karen Park (right), Global Projects Manager and ACLS Public Fellow with CAORC; Heidi Massaro, (second on left), Deputy Director of CAORC; Lucine Taminian (third on left) (TAARII); and Fulbright directors. (Photo courtesy of Barbara A. Porter, ACOR)

Lunches provided an opportunity for AORC directors to interact informally with each other and Fulbright Near Eastern Affairs (NEA) directors. Shown here: Beth Kangas (left) (TAARII); Karen Park (right), Global Projects Manager and ACLS Public Fellow with CAORC; Heidi Massaro (second on left), Deputy Director of CAORC; Lucine Taminian (third on left) (TAARII); and Fulbright directors (Photo courtesy of Barbara A. Porter, ACOR)

TAARII’s Overseas Director, Lucine Taminian, preparing to begin a cruise on the Bosporus on the final evening of the three-day workshop with directors of CAORC’s American overseas research centers. (Photo courtesy of Barbara A. Porter, ACOR)

TAARII’s Overseas Director, Lucine Taminian, preparing to begin a cruise on the Bosporus on the final evening of the three-day workshop with directors of CAORC’s American overseas research centers (Photo courtesy of Barbara A. Porter, ACOR)

The Svoboda Diaries Project at the University of Washington

The Svoboda Diaries Project (http://depts.washington.edu/svobodad) is working to bring an important collection of primary source documents from 19th century Iraq into the 21st century. The Project is an arm of the Newbook Digital Texts project (http://depts.washington.edu/ndth) at the University of Washington, one of TAARII’s institutional members.

The Project team is currently working to transcribe the diaries of Joseph Mathia Svoboda. Joseph was a clerk aboard a Lynch Brothers Steamship, and kept an extensive diary from 1860 until his death in 1908. The Project’s undergraduate interns are at work transcribing 46 volumes of Joseph’s diaries for prompt and inexpensive publication. In conjunction with the transcription and eventual publication of the diaries, Project staff are also working to assemble a wiki-style biographical encyclopedia of the Svoboda family and the many people with whom they interacted, which they have titled the “Svobodapedia.” Recent graduate student research utilizing these diaries has focused on Ottoman public health institutions as well as kinship networks and political power on the Ottoman-Qajar frontier. The Project staff welcomes the support and contributions of other scholars and anyone else interested in Iraq or in life in 19th-century Baghdad, and are open to any comments, corrections, or additional information.

The Svoboda Diaries Project is also pleased to announce that their first print publication is now available. The book is entitled From Bagdad to Paris: 1897  Journal of a Journey to Europe by Land Road via Damascus and Beirut. It is a first-person account of a journey undertaken in 1897 by a 19-year-old resident of Baghdad named Alexander Richard Svoboda, Joseph Mathia Svoboda’s son. The son of a wealthy and influential family of European merchants and artists, Alexander describes the day-to-day details of his lengthy voyage in the local Christian Arabic dialect. The text of the book is bilingual, with a transcription of the original Arabic text and an English translation by Nowf Allawi. Walter G. Andrews of the University of Washington edited the text and contributed the introduction.

Alexander Richard Svoboda

For more information, please contact Kearby Chess at chessk@u.washington.edu or Walter Andrews at walter@u.washington.edu.

Fellow Update: Jill Goldenziel (2010 US TAARII Fellow)

I am immensely grateful to have received a TAARII grant, which enabled me to complete research for my forthcoming book on refugees and U.S. foreign policy. A related article, “Regulating Human Rights: International Organizations, Flexible Standards, and International Refugee Law,” was recently published in the Chicago Journal of International Law. The article explains how international organizations can improve human rights outcomes under conditions where treaty regimes have failed. By using their authority to create more flexible standards than those contained in international human rights law, facilitating linkage of human rights practices to economic incentives, and providing valuable legal cover for state actions, international organizations may succeed in getting even rogue states to improve their human rights practices. I develop this argument in the context of the U.N. Refugee Agency’s management of the post-2003 Iraqi refugee crisis in Jordan and Syria. I also present examples of how international organizations might serve as regulators of human rights in other contexts.

Read the entire article here: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2243208

You can learn more about Dr. Goldenziel here: scholar.harvard.edu/jill

Fellow Update: Brandon Wolfe-Hunnicutt (2011 US TAARII Fellow)

I am very grateful for the research opportunities that the TAARII fellowship provided. My Ph.D. dissertation, “The End of the Concessionary Regime: Oil and American Power in Iraq, 1958–1972” (Stanford University, 2011), would not have been possible without the generous funding provided by TAARII. The TAARII fellowship allowed me to travel to the British Petroleum archive at Warwick University in Coventry England, and then on to the American University in Beirut where I conducted research on manuscripts and memoirs of Iraqi exiles who settled in Beirut in the 1970s.

These resources were invaluable to my dissertation research as they offered insight into the processes institution building in Iraq that allowed for the complete nationalization of the Iraq Petroleum Company (IPC) at a relatively early date (1972–75).

Since completing my dissertation, I’ve begun teaching U.S. and Middle East History at the University of California, Merced. Teaching offers its own rewards and challenges, and I’ve particularly enjoyed having the opportunity to teach the history of Iraq. Undergraduate students tend to come into the class with a great many preconceived notions about history of Iraq, many of which are problematic, and I’m honored to have the opportunity to offer a deeper and more realistic understanding of modern Iraqi history.

I’ve also been working on publishing my research. My article, “Embracing Regime Change: US Foreign Policy and the 1963 Coup in Iraq” was recently accepted for publication by the editors of Diplomatic History and will be forthcoming in 2014. The article expands on research that I began while working on my dissertation, but includes many additional sources that I came across while a TAARII fellow. My article contributes to a growing body of scholarship on the 1963 coup and the question of U.S. involvement. Those interested in this subject might want to also consult several pieces of recent scholarship including: Weldon Matthews, “The Kennedy Administration, Counterinsurgency, and Iraq’s First Ba‘thist Regime,” International Journal of Middle East Studies 43, no. 4 (2011): 635–53; Johan Franzén, Red Star over Iraq: Iraqi Communism Before Saddam (New York: Columbia University Press, 2011); Eric Jacobsen, “A Coincidence of Interests: Kennedy, U.S. Assistance, and the 1963 Iraqi Ba’th Regime,” Diplomatic History 37:5 (May 2013): 1029–59. I am also currently revising my dissertation for publication by incorporating new sources, reorganizing the chapter presentation, and situating the analysis of U.S.-Iraqi relations in the 1958–1972 period within a broader historical context.

I would be very happy to talk with interested scholars about my research, the TARRII fellowship, or recent developments in the field. I can be reached at bwolfe-hunnicutt@ucmerced.edu.