Category Archives: Fellow Updates

US Research Fellowships for 2015: Elizabeth Rauh

Elizabeth Rauh, History of Art, University of Michigan, received a TAARII US Research Fellowship for 2015 for her project Weapons of Creation: Art Practice and Production in the Contemporary Middle East.

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Elizabeth Rauh’s dissertation project examines how artists in the contemporary Middle East harness material violence into productive and creative art practices, which often interrogate historical art methods and materials. Rather than historicize modern art in the Arab World and Iran as derivative or “hybrid” styles and aesthetics, Rauh will explore the material and visual elements of art objects through close formal analysis to unpack the artistic processes of modernity in the region. One of her primary case studies is Iraqi artist Hanaa Malallah (b. 1958). Malallah’s monochromatic paintings (1980s–today) transform the destructive process of burning into an additive process on the canvas plane, thus revealing and reveling in the destructive aspects of art modernism and its colonial imbrications. Malallah’s art career attests to the dynamic Baghdad art scene while reflecting that art world’s dispersal due to ongoing warfare. Rauh will study Malallah’s artistic method collaboratively with the artist in London, while gathering vital information from her personal documents as well as herself as a living archive of the Iraqi art community and Institute of Fine Arts operating under Saddam Hussein and later foreign invasions. Rauh’s project will contribute to scholarship on Iraqi art history by locating art objects and practices in their specific regional contexts, while simultaneously positioning these art works as catalysts that complicate and upend discourses and interpretations of modern art on a global scale.

US Research Fellowships for 2015: Clarence Moore

Clarence Moore, Political Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison, received a TAARII US Research Fellowship for 2015 for his project Tribal Alliance Behavior in Iraq. Fellows-Moore

Clarence Moore’s dissertation asks: under what conditions does violence against civilians reduce popular support for violent actors and their causes? In addition to asking how violence influences support for outcomes such as religious government and democracy, Moore ties political orientations to tribal alliance behavior in Iraq. He proposes that because tribal leaders resist control by outsiders and draw their authority from popular support, tribal alliance behavior is a process based on sectarian geography, coercive violence by insurgents, and civilians’ and tribal leaders’ reactions to that violence. Though academics and policy analysts agree that many Sunni Iraqi tribes had turned against militants by 2007, there is currently no explanation of why some tribes switched sides and others did not. To answer this question, Moore will complete fieldwork in Amman, Jordan. He will use semi-structured interviews and surveys conducted with Iraqi refugees to develop a typology of violence and sort regions of Iraq according to the type and scale of violence they experienced. This information will allow him to assess the relationship between location, violence, and alliance behavior.

US Research Fellowships for 2015: Alissa Walter

Alissa Walter, History, Georgetown University, received a TAARII US Research Fellowship for 2015 for her project Ba‘thist Baghdad: A History of Non-Elite City Life under Authoritarianism, Wars, and Sanctions.

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Alissa Walter’s dissertation presents a history of Baghdad’s lower classes as they experienced regime changes, urbanization, authoritarian governance, wars, and sanctions in post-colonial Iraq, with a focus on the Ba‘thist period (1968–2003). Centering her study on Baghdad provides insights into how government, party, and society interacted in the center of the capital city. Drawing on archival research in England and France (and other non-TAARII funded research sites), Walter will study the transformations of neighborhood social institutions, including black markets, smuggling rings, charitable organizations, welfare systems, religious movements, and neighborhood committees during the tumultuous years of the Ba‘th regime. Her conclusions about the social transformations of Baghdad under Ba‘th Party rule will point to the long-term factors that contributed to violent societal breakdown and sectarianism post-2003. Her research project is positioned to provide valuable insights to historians to understand everyday life under the Ba‘th regime as well as to political scientists who are concerned with contemporary developments in Iraq.

US Research Fellowships for 2015: John Caleb Howard

Jon Caleb Howard, Near Eastern Studies, Johns Hopkins University, received a TAARII US Research Fellowship for 2015 for his project The Mechanics of Scribal Production of Neo-Assyrian Royal Inscriptions.

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The goal of Jon Caleb Howard’s project is to reconstruct the process of scribal production of the royal inscriptions of Ashurnasirpal II in the Northwest Palace at Kalḫu. Howard intends to do this by studying variation between manuscripts of the Standard Inscription and the inscription that appears on colossi and on the throne-base, within the architectural and artistic context of the Northwest Palace. The heart of his project is the compilation of a score of these two compositions based on collation and legible photographs of the reliefs, so that variation between manuscripts may be observed, cataloged, and interpreted. Since there remain some reliefs and sculpture from the Northwest Palace that do not have published legible photographs, Howard will visit collections in England, France, Germany, Belgium, and Denmark where they are on display in order to collate and photograph them.

Fellow Update: Adeed Dawisha (2006 US TAARII Fellow)

After the removal of Saddam Hussein, and the possibility of a new political order in the horizon after 2003, I thought of writing a book that would integrate the new political arrangements into the political history of Iraq since the crowning of King Faisal I in 1921.

I began my research in early 2004, and after two years I had accumulated enough data to begin writing. The summer of 2006 was ideal, and as someone who had written a number of books, I knew that the first two or three chapters were pivotal in setting the tone and rhythm of the whole writing project.

The TAARII grant allowed me to devote all of the summer of 2006 to writing. It freed me from having to teach summer school, and the end result was that by September 2006, I had completed the first three chapters of the book Iraq: A Political History from Independence to Occupation. The book was published in early 2009 by Princeton University Press, and I am happy to say it received good reviews. It was reprinted three times, and a paperback edition was published in 2011.

Would I have been able to write the book without TAARII’s help? Absolutely. But the grant undoubtedly supplied a crucial kick-start that made the whole endeavor easier and certainly shorter, and I am very grateful to TAARII for that.

Former TAARII Iraq Fellow Participates in World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies (WOCMES) in August 2014

Faris Nadhmi*

I participated in the Fourth World Congress for Middle East Studies (WOCMES) held at Middle East Technical University (METU) in Ankara, Turkey, August 18–22, 2014. The congress was organized by the Department of Political Science and Public Administration and the Graduate Program of Middle East Studies at METU, in collaboration with the Turkish Social Sciences Association.

The entrance of the Culture and Convention Center (CCC) of the Middle East Technical University (METU) - Ankara, where WOCMES 2014 was held (Photo credit: Faris Nadhmi, 2014)

The entrance of the Culture and Convention Center (CCC) of the Middle East Technical University (METU) – Ankara, where WOCMES 2014 was held (Photo credit: Faris Nadhmi, 2014)

After the highly successful experiences of the three previous WOCMES meetings held in Mainz, Germany, in 2002, Amman, Jordan, in 2006, and Barcelona, Spain, in 2010, WOCMES Ankara brought this unique event to the Eastern Mediterranean region.

WOCMES 2014 was attended by a remarkable number of very distinguished academics, policymakers, and researchers, who represented a wide variety of universities and institutions from 74 countries. The scientific program of the Congress, with its 400 academic sessions, meetings, exhibits, roundtables, and poster presentations, was impressive. It was designed to facilitate exchange and strengthen networking among more than 1,500 experts from all branches of the humanities, social sciences and related disciplines, and from all over the world.

Samir Amin giving the WOCMES keynote speech on the “Implosion of the Neoliberal Globalization and Its Effects on the Middle East Regions” (Photo credit: Faris Nadhmi, 2014)

Samir Amin giving the WOCMES keynote speech on the “Implosion of the Neoliberal Globalization and Its Effects on the Middle East Regions” (Photo credit: Faris Nadhmi, 2014)

The main disciplines at the congress were: Anthropology, Archeology, Architecture, Economics, Education, Fine Arts, Gender Studies Geography, History, International Relations, Journalism, Labor Studies, Law and Legal Studies, Literature and Linguistics, Environmental Studies, Peace and Conflict Resolution, Philosophy, Political Science, Religious Studies, Social Psychology, and Sociology.

Topics covered in the academic presentations focused on: Ancient Middle East, Islam in the Past and Present, Christian and Biblical Studies, Urban Studies and Space, Water and the Environment, Economics and Politics, Women and Gender Studies, Normative Phenomena and Legal Research, Migration Studies, Media and Cultural Studies, Linguistics and Literature, Nationality, and Identities and Ethnicity.

On August 20, 2014, I participated in the panel, “Iraq: Human Costs of Occupation,” which was organized by the International Association of Middle Eastern Studies (IAMES) in cooperation with the International Association of Contemporary Iraqi Studies (IACIS). Two other scholars joined me in the panel: Dr. Mundher Al-Adhami (Iraq) and Dirk Adriaensens (Belgium), as well as the moderator Prof. Raymond Baker (USA). My presentation was titled: “The Power of Political Islamization in Iraq, the Case of Ending the Civil State: Psycho-Political Perspective.”

The panel on “Iraq: Human Costs of Occupation,” organized by the International Association of Middle Eastern Studies (IAMES) in cooperation with the International Association of Contemporary Iraqi Studies (IACIS). From right to left: Dr. Faris Nadhmi (Iraq), Dirk Adriaensens (Belgium), moderator Prof. Raymond Baker, and Dr. Mundher Al- Adhami (Iraq). (Photo credit: Bie Kentane, Belgium, 2014)

The panel on “Iraq: Human Costs of Occupation,” organized by the International Association of Middle Eastern Studies (IAMES) in cooperation with the International Association of Contemporary Iraqi Studies (IACIS). From right to left: Dr. Faris Nadhmi (Iraq), Dirk Adriaensens (Belgium), moderator Prof. Raymond Baker, and Dr. Mundher Al- Adhami (Iraq). (Photo credit: Bie Kentane, Belgium, 2014)

In my presentation, I argued that The American Coalition Provisional Authority helped leaders of religious groups and parties to dominate the political scene. Since the occupation of Iraq in 2003, Islamic political parties have been trying to reproduce the state and society in accordance with their sectarian views. Their attempts to Islamize Iraqi society go against the deep-rooted secularist trends that had dominated the public life since the establishment of the nation-state in the 1920s. Based on my six years of research on political Islam, I concluded that the psychological basis of political Islam includes: a phobia of freedoms; hostility to beauty; denial of the basic facts of human nature; women’s complex (women’s erotic nature and their inferiority to men); a wish to impose ignorance on society; a glorification of the past and fear of the future; an instinctive trend toward money, power, and sex; and hatred of national identity. These undeclared motives of political Islam that dominate public life in Iraq have produced a number of negative social phenomena, including: fighting the social secularist trends in Iraq; spreading false religiosity; immortalization of hostage society; strengthening the masochistic trend in Iraqi mentality; undermining the Baghdadi identity; academic corruption in the Iraqi universities; targeting and terrorizing of minorities; and Green Zone psychology.

Faris Nadhmi introducing his presentation, “The Power of Political Islamization in Iraq, the Case of Ending the Civil State: Psycho-Political Perspective,” within the session titled “Iraq: Human Costs of Occupation.” (Photo credit: Bie Kentane, Belgium, 2014)

Faris Nadhmi introducing his presentation, “The Power of Political Islamization in Iraq, the Case of Ending the Civil State: Psycho-Political Perspective,” within the session titled “Iraq: Human Costs of Occupation.” (Photo credit: Bie Kentane, Belgium, 2014)

The issues that my presentation raised focused on: my research methodology, the role of The American Coalition Provisional Authority in providing the opportunity for political Islam to dominate public life, and whether the psychological basis of political Islam I listed above can be generalized to political Islam in other countries in the Middle East.

WOCMES 2014 was a real and genuine opportunity for me to update my viewpoints regarding the issues and crises of the Middle East from multiple academic perspectives. It gave me the chance to build networks with many scholars from several countries. Such an academic event is a true occasion to strengthen the values of peace and tolerance, as long as the hundreds of participants can contribute to shaping their countries’ policies towards the Middle East.

Joint Meeting of the International Association of Middle Eastern Studies (IAMES) and the International Association of Contemporary Iraqi Studies (IACIS) (Photo credit: Bie Kentane, Belgium, 2014)

Joint Meeting of the International Association of Middle Eastern Studies (IAMES) and the International Association of Contemporary Iraqi Studies (IACIS) (Photo credit: Bie Kentane, Belgium, 2014)

Thanks so much to TAARII for giving me the chance to participate in WOCMES 2014. This support helped me to present a theoretical paper regarding the relation between political Islam and society in Iraq, as well as to attend numerous sessions and meetings of the Congress.

Several WOCMES participants in the Culture and Convention Center (CCC) of the Middle East Technical University (METU)-Ankara. From right to left: Dr. Faris Nadhmi (Iraq), Dr. Yasmine Jawad (Iraq),  and Dr. Gamal Selim (Egypt) (Photo credit: Faris Nadhmi, 2014)

Several WOCMES participants in the Culture and Convention Center (CCC) of the Middle East Technical University (METU)-Ankara. From right to left: Dr. Faris Nadhmi (Iraq), Dr. Yasmine Jawad (Iraq), and Dr. Gamal Selim (Egypt) (Photo credit: Faris Nadhmi, 2014)

Faris Nadhmi, Ph.D., Social Psychology. Nadhmi is a writer, researcher, and lecturer in political, social, and personality psychology at Baghdad University, Salahaddin University-Erbil. He can be contacted by email: fariskonadhmi@hotmail.com

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)

 

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