Category Archives: Resources

Call to Action: Help CAORC Secure US Funding!

Dear Colleagues and American Overseas Research Centers Friends:

Help the Council of American Overseas Research Centers (CAORC) to

secure U.S. funding for the American Overseas Research Centers and other International Education Opportunities!

Please ACT Immediately!
Federal budget decisions are being made now.

The U.S. Senate’s version of the FY 2016 federal budget proposes large cuts to the Department of Education’s funding for international education and foreign language learning. These programs are vital for preparing American experts who can engage internationally in today’s global environment. Help CAORC urge Congress to approve the House of Representatives version of the FY 2016 federal budget by writing your Senators and Representatives.

U.S. Citizens:

Please help by using this link (http://p2a.co/YAw6Vds)
where you can easily send a prepared letter of support to all of your
Senators and Representatives


Non U.S. Citizens:

Your voices also count!
We would appreciate receiving brief statements of support from you.
You can send these to us at: outreach@caorc.org


Institutional Member: American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR)

American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR), Marian Feldman (Johns Hopkins University), ASOR institutional representative

The American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR) is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization that supports and encourages the study of the cultures and history of the Near East, from the earliest times to the present. Founded in 1900 by twenty-one institutions, ASOR now has three affiliated overseas research centers, more than 90 consortium institutions, including universities, seminaries, museums, foundations, and libraries, as well as more than 1,550 individual members.

ASOR fosters original research, archaeological excavations and explorations; encourages scholarship in the Near East’s basic languages, cultural histories and traditions; builds support for Near Eastern studies; and advocates high academic standards. ASOR also offers educational opportunities in Near Eastern history and archaeology to students from all over the world, and through outreach activities to the public. ASOR communicates news of the latest research findings through its journals, books, lectures, and annual meeting. It awards dozens of fellowships for fieldwork in the eastern Mediterranean annually.

Within ASOR, two primary vehicles for support of the study of Iraq are the Annual Meeting session on the Archaeology of Mesopotamia and the standing Committee on Mesopotamian Civilization. ASOR also hosts a web page dedicated to archaeological research in Iraq, the Iraq information page.

The Committee on Mesopotamian Civilization (commonly referred to as the Baghdad Committee) is dedicated to promoting through research, excavation, and publication, the dissemination of knowledge of Mesopotamian civilization. The committee serves as the functional arm of ASOR’s overseas school in Baghdad, Iraq, which was founded in 1923 through a 1922 bequest (the Nies bequest) to ASOR for excavations and the publication of their results. In 1947, ASOR’s Baghdad School began publication of the Journal of Cuneiform Studies (JCS). The School also sponsored one or more annual professors and fellows until the late 1960s, when residency in Iraq became difficult. The School (with a director) was changed to a Committee (with a chair) in 1970 when the Iraqi government decided to close all foreign schools. Since 1970, the Committee has overseen the Mesopotamian Fellowship. For more information, read a history of ASOR’s Baghdad School that operated in Iraq from 1923–1969.

Summer Research in Jordan

Louis Yako, PhD student of Cultural Anthropology, Duke University

My multi-sited ethnography on Iraqi academics in exile took me to Jordan this summer, where I had a golden opportunity to meet with a good number of academics, most of whom were forced to leave Iraq after 2003. In the nearly 8 weeks I spent in Amman, I was fortunate to interview, talk with, visit with, and closely observe Iraqi academics in their work place at different universities as well as at their homes and at different cafés and restaurants to enjoy some deep conversations about their rich experiences both inside Iraq and in exile.

A neighborhood in downtown Amman (Photo credit: Louis Yako, 2014)

A neighborhood in downtown Amman (Photo credit: Louis Yako, 2014)

Jordan is a beautiful country with a fantastic weather, especially in the evenings. A lot of things here reminded me of home in Iraq: the shops, the taste of peaches and apricots, the yogurt made from sheep’s milk, the vegetation, the wild cats in the streets, and the hustle and bustle of the old bazaar at the center of the city “Wast Al Balad.” Also reminiscent of home were the painful stories, the memories, and the wounds my interlocutors carry on their backs like a turtle who takes her shell with her everywhere she goes.

Wast Al Balad, Amman (Photo credit: Louis Yako, 2014)

Wast Al Balad, Amman (Photo credit: Louis Yako, 2014)

As I have come to learn, several waves of Iraqi refugees and immigrants have come to Jordan over the last couple of decades, each wave had some specific characteristics and motives for leaving Iraq. For example, the wave of Iraqis who came in the 1990s came mostly for political reasons, or for economic reasons to escape the harsh UN sanctions; whereas those who came after 2003, which include most of my interlocutors, came mostly to escape war, violence, debaathification, death threats, and sectarianism.

Besides talking to Iraqi academics, I met with Geraldine Chatelard who has been researching Iraq for many years and whose passion and insights about Iraq are quite useful. I also met some Jordanian professors who further enriched my understanding about their own experiences working at public and private Jordanian universities. Talking to these professors was helpful because it provided me with a multi-dimensional vision about the conditions of their Iraqi counterparts at the same universities.

Middle East University, Jordan (Photo credit: Louis Yako, 2014)

Middle East University, Jordan (Photo credit: Louis Yako, 2014)

Philadelphia University, Jordan (Photo credit: Louis Yako, 2014)

Philadelphia University, Jordan (Photo credit: Louis Yako, 2014)

Many important themes surfaced during my time in Jordan. One of the major issues that came up over and over again is that while academics here have more chances to find jobs, they are all under contracts. This means they can only stay in the country so long as their contracts are not expired. I find this quite interesting if we think of it in terms of biopolitics and those who are allowed to live and those who are left to die. I found that these lives under contracts with no citizenship or rights beyond these contracts totally redefine the meaning of home and exile. On the one hand, you are safe and make good money, but on the other hand, all of this can end at a blink of an eye. In this sense, feeling home under such conditions becomes akin to building a home amid an earthquake. In contrast to my last summer’s research in the UK, while the exiled Iraqi professors in the UK are able to attain a status of a British subject and have equal rights, they struggled immensely with finding jobs — even jobs outside of academia — in order to survive. I think these two cases provide rich materials for analysis in my work.

Book collection at a professor's office (Photo credit: Louis Yako, 2014)

Book collection at a professor’s office (Photo credit: Louis Yako, 2014)

The transition from an Iraqi public, centralized higher education system to a corporate, for-profit private universities, were most interlocutors currently teach, is another important issue that emerged from the fieldwork. Other issues include the interlocutors’ memories about teaching under the former regime, their experiences following the US occupation of Iraq, the violence, and the death threats many of them received to leave their positions in Iraqi universities.

Louis Yako (left) with an Iraqi professor of media (Photo credit: Louis Yako, 2014)

Louis Yako (left) with an Iraqi professor of media (Photo credit: Louis Yako, 2014)

Last but not least, almost all interlocutors, at one time or another, had tears rolling down their faces as we talked about their definitions of “home” and “exile.” As time went by, I discovered that the way I had unintentionally worded one question particularly made many of them tear up. The question I asked everyone: what has exile given you and what has it taken away from you? Tears often came down as they started talking about the things exile had taken away from them. The current turmoil in Iraq has made things much harder for them. As in the words of one interlocutor: “It was hard enough to be exiled, but with the current turmoil, Iraq as we know it may well end. If this happens, then we are not only exiled; we are exiled from a place that won’t even exist anymore! Can you imagine the pain?” Thinking about these words, I am left wondering if at the end of the day, time in exile is simply like “Time” itself: it is a thief that takes away much more than it will ever give back. However, some interlocutors also expressed hope about their current lives and the future. Indeed, most of them agree that being in Jordan provides much solace, not only because of the many similarities in culture, values, and language, but also because Jordan’s geographical location allows them to, in the words of one professor, “keep an eye on Iraq and the people we love.”

Overall, my summer research was incredibly rich thanks to the support I received from TAARII that was kind enough to allow me to rent their centrally-located apartment, connected me with a number of Iraqi professors in Jordan, and provided me with all sorts of information needed to make my time in Jordan smooth and productive. I am especially grateful for TAARII’s Resident Director and Senior Scholar, Lucine Taminian, who was very kind, approachable and friendly. Lucine’s experience on the Middle East and her interest in my project were a great source of encouragement and I am fortunate for all the beautiful conversations we had that provided me with invaluable insights as I carry on this research.

Louis Yako's (right) first meal of Ramadan with an Iraqi professor (Photo credit: Louis Yako, 2014)

Louis Yako’s (right) first meal of Ramadan with an Iraqi professor (Photo credit: Louis Yako, 2014)

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.

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.

Fellow Update: Dina Khoury (2007 & 2008 US TAARII Fellow)

TAARII funded two research trips to Jordan (2007) and Syria (2009) to conduct interviews with Iraqi veterans of the Iran-Iraq and the First Gulf wars. These interviews formed part of the research for my book, Iraq in Wartime, Soldiering, Martyrdom and Remembrance (Cambridge University Press, 2013). In Amman, TAARII’s Senior Research Fellow, Lucine Taminian, was very helpful in providing contacts and facilitating my research. TAARII runs the Iraqi Oral History Project, which aims at collecting the testimonies of Iraqis who have lived through the momentous events of the twentieth century. Lucine plays an important part in that project and she was ready with advice as to what to expect. The interviews I conducted were crucial for the argument I made in the book and in giving me an understanding of the centrality of the Iraq-Iran War in shaping the sensibility of a whole generation in Iraq. It also allowed me to understand the impact of violence on the lives of Iraqis in a manner that would have been difficult to comprehend had I not had a chance to conduct these interviews. Please check this link for more on the book and a sample interview: http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/10106/new-texts-out-now_dina-rizk-khoury-iraq-in-wartime

Fellow Update: Amy Gansell (2012 US TAARII Fellow)

On March 6, 2013, Amy Gansell gave a lecture entitled, “Concepts of Feminine Beauty and Adornment in Ancient Mesopotamia Illuminated through Near Eastern Cultural Practices of the Twentieth-century to the Present,” for the Department of Social Science & Cultural Studies at the Pratt Institute. Professor Gansell was a Visiting Assistant Professor in Pratt’s History of Art and Design department. Her talk showed images of her project on queenly adornment. A video of her lecture is available here.

Fellow Update: Hilary Falb (2012 US TAARII Fellow)

Hilary Falb has just published an article on education in Iraq and Palestine in Volume 3, No 2, 2013 of the Kufa Review. It is a special issue on education in Iraq sponsored by the Iraqi Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research. Click here to view the issue.

“Pedagogical Paradox: Education and Internalization in the Mandates for Palestine and Mesopotamia (Iraq)”

Abstract: Education in the Middle East during the interwar period offers a window into international educational trends as well as the nuanced ways colonial educational policies and local endeavors
shaped which pedagogical methods, tactics, subjects and standards became accepted on a global scale. Schooling in the Mandate for Palestine and in the Kingdom of Iraq during the late
1930s demonstrates two different ways in which educational policies become international. On the one hand, policies can be “de-nationalized” or separated from the nation which originated these methods. Those who experience this education believe it to be universally valid. On the other hand, countries developing their own systems of public education may pick and choose policies from several international sources and then combine them, creating a uniquely national system of education.

TAARII Fellowship Opportunities

The annual deadline for submission of applications to both the U.S. Fellows Program and the Iraq Fellows Program is December 15, 2013, for projects beginning as early as March 2014. Applications from U.S.-Iraqi collaborative teams are welcome on a ROLLING basis.

For additional information, please visit the TAARII website. To submit a collaborative proposal, contact info@taarii.org.

TAARII-sponsored Roundtable Discussion at MESA: Researching Iraq Today

TAARII is pleased to be sponsoring the following roundtable discussion at the Middle East Studies Association 47th Annual Meeting in New Orleans from October 10–13, 2013.

The roundtable, [R3406] Researching Iraq Today: Archives, Oral Histories, and Ethnographies, will take place on Saturday, October 12, at 11:00 a.m.

Summary

Iraq has weathered one of the longest periods of ongoing and active combat in its history over the last decade. Simultaneously, the country has witnessed a resurgence of historical, ethnographic, and politically engaged research by international scholars. Ten years after the American-led coalition invasion, the panelists on this interdisciplinary roundtable propose that it is time to discuss the methodologies, difficulties, and possibilities of conducting scholarly research on Iraq today.

This roundtable examines the potential for and limits of historical and ethnographic fieldwork on — and in — Iraq. Drawing from a range of historical and contemporary contexts that span environmental movements, political movements, media representations, and urban transformations, panelists will explore three fundamental questions. First, what kinds of historical, especially archival, research and ethnographic engagement can be sustained in Iraq today? Second, how do the successes and challenges of such qualitative research influence both the quality of original scholarship on Iraq and the integrity of knowledge about Iraq itself? Third, what role do archives outside of Iraq — such as colonial archives and oil-company papers — play in these processes?

To address these questions, the roundtable considers the conditions for ethnographic fieldwork under the Ba’th period and in the subsequent decade that followed the American-led invasion, as well as discussing the status of the Iraqi archives and underexplored human and archival sources outside of Iraq. Questioning potential connections between various fieldwork methodologies and the ongoing occupation of Iraq, we will explore how these politically problematic relationships and uncomfortable alignments come to be embraced, negotiated, or refused by the researcher. Collectively, we examine the historical and ethnographic tactics and approaches used to research Iraq in the midst of conflict and we consider how these innovative forms have, in turn, spurred disciplinary transformations in the conventions of qualitative research.

Participants

For more information, visit MESA’s website and the roundtable’s page