Category Archives: Conferences

Conference Report: “Living Heritage in a Middle East in Conflict”

Peter Wien, TAARII President 

TAARII: though our name suggests that we are a research institute “…in Iraq,” it has been difficult to establish this fact since the fateful events of 2003. Only few of our members have been able to visit the country, and our fellowship program can only fund U.S. researchers who work on, but not in, Iraq. The project funding for Iraqi researchers in Iraq is TAARII’s pride, but only few Iraqis could secure a visa for travel to the U.S. Stateside, legal restrictions, the all too real threat of violence, but also perceptions about insecurity have led to an entire generation of Iraq scholars writing about Iraq without field experience, with exceptions few and far between. First contact, overcoming reservations, putting feet on the ground, and meeting people were therefore very good reasons for me to undertake a trip to the north of Iraq to participate in a conference-workshop on “Living Heritage in a Middle East in Conflict,” organized jointly by the Institut Français du Proche Orient (IFPO) in Erbil and the American University of Iraq in Sulaimaniye (AUIS). The conference took place on the impressive premises of AUIS from May 10 to 11, 2016.

Nicely accommodated in a luxurious hotel named, aptly or not, “Titanic,” a group of researchers from the Middle East, Europe, and North America met for two days of intensive scholarly exchange. The “Titanic” is situated on the outskirts of the city overlooking the center and distant mountain tops, right next to an amusement park with a towering ferris wheel. A fifteen minutes bus ride along the ring road took us to the campus of AUIS with its state of the art conference hall, including simultaneous translation from and into Arabic, Kurdish, French and English.

 

Left to right: Abdulameer al-Hamdani presenting at AUIS, with Geraldine Chatelard, Mahmood Ahmed Bakr Khayat, and Leila Salih in the Background (Peter Wien, 2016))

Left to right: Abdulameer al-Hamdani presenting at AUIS, with Geraldine Chatelard, Mahmood Ahmed Bakr Khayat, and Leila Salih in the Background (Peter Wien, 2016))

The University president and the co-sponsoring French institutions (the Institut Français, based at the French embassy in Baghdad, the IFPO, which maintains a branch on the citadel of Erbil, the Capital of the autonomous Kurdish region of Iraq) offered their greetings, followed by presentations by participants covering the entire Middle East region and beyond, including even reflections on the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas by the Taliban, and the impact of the recovery efforts on local populations (Constance Windham, Bert Praxenthaler). Discussions evolved around issues of cultural heritage destruction and its impact on social life, coping strategies of affected populations in Iraq and Syria, or the challenges to the preservation of living space, customs and linguistic heritage in the face of ongoing contestations of power and dominance between rivaling groups in the entire region, at the expense of local and minority identities (Alda Benjamen, Aline Schlaepfer, Mikhael Benjamin, Jean Lambert, Rafiq al-Akkuri, Jordi Tejel). Iraqi colleagues in particular bemoaned the loss of traditions of coexistence and collaboration that had dominated Iraqi social life in the past (Hassan Nadhem, Ghada al-Slik, Scheherazade Qassim Hassan, Mahmood Ahmed Bakr Khayat).

Particularly interesting were presentations by AUIS professor Edith Szanto about the “rediscovery” of Zoroastrianism among the Kurdish youth as the “original” Kurdish religion as push-back against the rising threat of militant Islamism, by former TAARII fellows Bridget Guarasci on the pitfalls of post-Saddam reconstruction discourses as exemplified by the Iraqi Marshlands, Mosul archeologist Leila Salih’s discussion of the re-purposing of lost heritage site in her home town, former TAARII fellow Abdulameer Hamdani’s stock taking of the disappearance and dispersal of Iraqi ancient heritage since 2003, and Thomas McGee’s fascinating account of debates in the North Syrian Kurdish city of Kobane about the re-construction or memorial preservation of the destroyed city center after Kurdish troops re-took it from Daesh in 2015. Accounts of the impact of the Syrian Civil war on cultural and social heritage were particularly chilling (Mustafa Ahmad, Mohamad Aljasem, Vanessa Guéno), while other presentations focused on possibilities of reconstruction, both materially and socially (Diane Duclos, Jala Makhzoumi). Conference organizers Géraldine Chatelard, Elizabeth Campbell, and Boris James steered questions and answers to cover issues related to political, legal and scholarly dimensions of the definition of heritage, and what the international heritage discourse can do to the life of communities. Interesting contributions to the discussion included Saad Eskander’s remark that it should not be forgotten that heritage destruction pre-dated the 2003 invasion and Daesh. Great parts of old Baghdad had fallen victim to Ba‘thist development plans, long before 2003. Altogether, the conference offered crucial insights to the variety of challenges that cultural heritage activists and practitioners are facing. The conversation is ongoing.

 

Peter Wien in the Museum of Sulaimaniye, in front of a statue from Hatra (Wien, 2016)

Peter Wien in the Museum of Sulaimaniye, in front of a statue from Hatra (Wien, 2016)

Next to the proceedings of the conference, informal interactions and visits to nearby sites were especially inspiring. The Sulaimaniye Museum offered a glimpse of the past in several ways – first of all through its small but fine collection of antiquities, but also because of the composition of the museum’s artifacts stemming from all different regions of Iraq, at a time when the collaboration and interaction of Iraqi scholars across lines of sect and ethnicity were a simple fact of life. Iraqi archaeologists of all proveniences attended university together and worked in all corners of the country, as the director indicated, and they sometimes were allowed to take along artifacts to the local museums of their places of origin.

I had decided to extend my stay for a couple of days beyond the conference, which offered me the opportunity to join French and American colleagues on an outing to the mountains and valleys around Sulaimaniye, and on an overland trip to Erbil, where I wanted visit the facilities of the Iraqi Institute for the Preservation of Antiquities and Heritage that is affiliated with the University of Delaware. The trip to the Kurdish mountains turned out to be a lesson in Kurdish public history and culture of commemoration of experiences of violence.

 

The Qaradagh Mountains (Peter Wien, 2016)

The Qaradagh Mountains (Peter Wien, 2016)

Florence, director of the French School in Sulaimaniye, her Kurdish co-director Razgar and his son Rawa invited us on a trip to get to know the comforts of a favorite Kurdish family pass time – a picnic in the fields and meadows at the foot of a mountain range. But this was not only about eating stuffed vine leaves and peppers, but also about reminiscing the killing fields of Kurdistan. Razgar turned out to be a Peshmerga veteran who had fought against Saddam Husain’s army in the Anfal campaign. During the massive sweeps and chemical attacks in the late eighties, he had held out among the impressive rock formations of the Qaradagh mountains that we were now marveling at in the midday sun. His unit had spent months in hideouts, reduced from a group of more than one hundred fighters to only a hand full, moving between positions and fighting pitched battles against Iraqi troops, watching helicopter gunships drop chemical weapons. The villages we passed through were mostly new constructions after having been bulldozed by the army. One Peshmerga, 16 years old at the time, had lost his entire family, but was now living again in his ancestral village with a new family, Razgar told us. He himself escaped and went into exile in France for many years. The intense and rough beauty of the landscape made it hard to believe that this place had witnessed horrendous crimes. The clouds of poisonous gas had risen and almost reached the mountaintops, he said, and then had slowly sunken down again.

 

Razgar and Rawa at Derband-i Gawir (Peter Wien, 2016)

Razgar and Rawa at Derband-i Gawir (Peter Wien, 2016)

The history and present of war are omnipresent in the Kurdish mountains. During a hike up to the Akkadian stone relief of Derband-i Gawir, which some say depicts warrior king Sargon of Akkad, our guides each shouldered their Kalashnikov and M16 rifles. We followed paths where Razgar and his comrades had descended into the valley by night to gather water and access cachets of flour and sugar, after staying in their hiding places during the day. The rifles, the stories, are certainly a chilling reminder of a violent past, but they are also part of the mis-en-scene of a memory culture with enormous legitimating power for the present. We continued the trip in our 4x4s to the Qopi Qaradagh, the tip of the valley and then back through a village where we greeted some elders and contemplated the martyrs’ monument. The latest of the martyrs’, whose images were not yet displayed, had fallen in the fight against Daesh. Razgar told us how he had helped injured veterans procure pensions from the KRG. He also told us of the foreign fighters from the US, France, Germany, Britain and other countries who came to join the Peshmerga against Daesh and who they sent on to Syria.

 

The Martyrs' Monument (Peter Wien, 2016)

The Martyrs’ Monument (Peter Wien, 2016)

The contrast between the eerily peaceful mountains of Southeastern Kurdistan around Suleimaniye and the suffocating heat of Erbil could not be stronger. The plains around Erbil lack the refreshing breeze and spring rains of Suli, and the burning of trash does its share to make Erbil’s air hard to breathe at night. The laid back atmosphere of Suli, a mid-size town, compares positively with the buzz of the Kurdish metropolis, the intense traffic and the bustling activity of the market. While it was hard to find a mosque in Suli, and one would rarely hear a call to prayer, both were omnipresent in Erbil. Seemingly, we had already entered a different country when we had crossed the border between PUK and KDP territory some distance before entering Erbil – an absurd situation: not only is one traveling supposedly  inside the Iraqi nation state, there should also be inseparable brotherhood among the Kurds. But there we were, two sets of Peshmerga at a cold war style border post, in different uniforms, and the KDP side would not even consider the diplomatic passports of my French co-travelers sufficient to spare us a search of our luggage and some questioning.

 

Remembering Kobani in the center of Sulaimaniye (Peter Wien, 2016)

Remembering Kobani in the center of Sulaimaniye (Peter Wien, 2016)

In the morning after our arrival my co-traveler Geraldine Chatelard and I visited the citadel, enjoying its mosque’s late 1950s modernist style renovation, contrasting with the historicist reconstruction of the main gateway to the fortress. In the modern western Orientalist’s quest for the “authentic” we also preferred the shabby Ottoman remainders deep in the bazaar at the foot of the citadel to the recently renovated representative parts opening to the streets and squares. The difference highlights the conflict between glitzy new renovations that are supposed to boost the town’s attractiveness for tourism on the one hand, and the care that preservationists want to put into Iraqi heritage, a goal that a new generation of Iraqi practitioners and scholars shares with foreign specialists. Both sides have a home and gathering point in the Iraqi Institute for the Conservation of Antiquities and Heritage that uses the old Erbil public library building outside the walls of the citadel. Brian Lione, the Institute’s managing director, gave us a tour of the labs and classrooms, as well as of a mud-brick production and building facility in the backyard that offers instruction in ancient construction techniques to the attendants of the Institute’s regular workshops, who come from all parts of Iraq to learn the necessary skills for a challenging job in a war-torn country.

Peter Wien (left) with Village Elders (Wien, 2016)

Peter Wien (left) with Village Elders (Wien, 2016)

One of the highlights of the stay was a visit in the afternoon of the same day, before my departure back to the US, to Sinem Khanoum, an old Kurdish lady and friend of Geraldine, who belongs to a generation of Iraqis, which is about to disappear. She has an intellectual and political family background of Kurdish nationalists with a strong sense of inter-communal Iraqiness. She spent her life in Damascus, Baghdad, Kirkuk, Erbil, and Paris was probably somewhere in the mix, too. Her father had studied law in Leipzig, Germany, in the 1920s, her late husband had been in the oil ministry in Baghdad. Sinam Khanoum had fond and nostalgic memories about the old days when the communities were living together in the Iraqi capital up until 2003, but also about a meeting with the charismatic Kurdish leader Mullah Mustafa Barzani in the 1970s.

After a dinner of Kurdish barbecue in a café at the foot of the citadel, I departed to the airport. Different from the makeshift terminal hangars of the international airport of Sulaimaniye, the Erbil facilities are built to impress as this is supposed to be a shiny new gateway to and from what was once meant to be a new Dubai in Iraq. That dream has fallen victim to the decline in oil prices, the corruption and the mismanagement that have left the economy of the Kurdish region of Iraq a shambles. Inner-Kurdish conflicts linger under the surface, but one can sense the people’s pride and resilience as well. Observations and impressions of a short visit remain superficial, but hopefully the establishment of closer links between TAARII and the scholarly communities of all of Iraq will open channels for beneficial cooperation and mutual learning in the near future.

States of Imagination: Four Perspectives on Iraqi Political Culture, 1900-2014

MESA 2015 Panel Report

States of Imagination: Four Perspectives on Iraqi Political Culture, 1900–2014

Report by Annie Greene and Carl Shook, co-organizers

When the 2003 invasion of Iraq failed to establish the stable and Western-friendly state its American architects hoped for, and instead directly precipitated civil war and helped increase the salience of sectarian identification in politics and society, the social fabric and geography of the Iraqi state itself was held responsible. The narrative of Iraq as a contrived state, which arbitrarily and irresponsibly combined the “Kurdish north,” the “Shiʿi south,” and the “Sunni west,” all with an imbalance of political power and natural resources, was dusted off in order to explain the political failures and challenges after 2003. This narrative grew more common, and its proponents more vocal, upon the development of Islamic State and its conquest of Iraqi and Syrian territory in 2014.

In the last two decades or so, a growing number of scholars who specialize in Iraqi history and politics have steadily worked against this narrative through studies that focused on the contingent contexts and processes that may result in political, civil, or religious conflict. The state was rarely the sole or even dominant subject of these studies. Among other advantages, this problematized representations of Iraqi society as either a passive or reactionary partner in Iraqi political history. Our goal in forming this panel was to contribute to this trend of decentralizing politics by looking at the Iraqi state from the perspective of the diverse institutions and actors involved and in contact with, but not necessarily part of, the state. We contend that a de-centered political vantage point is more analytically useful because it treats the Iraqi state as a product of political imagination, negotiation, definition, and contestation.

Therefore, we set out to design a panel that considered the Iraqi state through the country’s political history from four very different perspectives. The first perspective was that of Ottoman-Iraqi intellectuals carving out a discursive space for themselves between Ottoman centralization and local expression in verse, the press, and the parliament. Annie Greene (University of Chicago) examined some of the writings of three Ottoman-era Iraqi intellectuals, the poet Jamil Sidqi al-Zahawi, journalist Sulayman Faydi, and parliamentarian İsmail Hakkı Babanzade. She demonstrated that their critiques and praises of Ottoman state policies, all the while sitting in Baghdad and Basra, reveal an importance and relevance to the imperial capital Istanbul as provincial intellectuals, not merely peripheral ones. They saw themselves as active agents of the reform and renaissance currents going on in the empire, even in the frontier.

Carl Shook (University of Chicago) presents at the "States of Imagination" panel.

Carl Shook (University of Chicago) presents at the “States of Imagination” panel.

The second perspective was that of British Mandate officials towards Iraq as a distinct socio-political entity. Carl Shook (University of Chicago) presented the geographical and historical rationale for dividing territory into irrigated and non-irrigated land, and categorizing the population into “settled” and “un-settled” (read: Bedouin) groups. He then described the normalizing effects of this simplistic social dichotomy on the formation of the Iraq-Syria border between 1918 and 1932. Parts of the new political boundary were delimited to shield agricultural land and trade routes from both “foreign” and “Iraqi” tribal groups, but accommodation of and resistance to the new boundaries by tribal elites, shepherds, traders, and smugglers nevertheless influenced the location and permeability of the resulting border.

The intellectual and avant-garde clientele of Baghdad’s coffee shops provided a third perspective, this time challenging the state’s rationalization and nationalization during the monarchical period of the 1940s. Pelle Valentin Olsen (University of Chicago) discussed leisure as a domain that is not free from political intervention and disciplinary power, but that is rather one of the sites in which different and competing ideals and visions of nation and temporality manifest and in which social norms are both practiced and contested.

Pelle Valentin Olsen (University of Chicago), right, presents at the "States of Imagination" panel. From left to right: Omar Sirri (University of Toronto), Carl Shook (University of Chicago), Annie Greene (University of Chicago), and panel moderator Peter Wien (University of Maryland and current TAARII president)

Pelle Valentin Olsen (University of Chicago), right, presents at the “States of Imagination” panel. From left to right: Omar Sirri (University of Toronto), Carl Shook (University of Chicago), Annie Greene (University of Chicago), and panel moderator Peter Wien (University of Maryland and current TAARII president)

The fourth perspective was that of the contested legal foundations of Iraq following the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. Omar Sirri (University of Toronto) described the absence of constituent power of the people during the drafting of the Iraqi Constitution in 2004 and 2005. Through interviews with constitution makers in Baghdad, his paper indicated that Iraqi political elites came to occupy the seat of constituent power, and showed the implications of this by arguing that these elites remained engaged in a Schmittian political dynamic, which marginalizes the Iraqi people, and that has come to define constitutional politics in Iraq.

This panel intentionally accentuated periods across Iraq’s political history that reject easy narratives and trajectories of continuity of the Iraqi state. Instead of defining the state, we sought to amplify some of the voices and discourses that contributed, one way or another, to its existence. By favoring Iraq’s political history and culture over a state-centric approach, we hope to have illuminated diverse but meaningful moments in Iraqi political history which, taken together, challenge a hard state-society distinction in favor of a “blurred lines” perspective. In other words, the state was taken as just one of many sites where political interaction, through which identity, religion, language, politics, and history are being molded and made concrete, takes place. These four perspectives represent just a few of the ways Iraq was imagined, shaped, critiqued, and invested with meaning and purpose during Iraq’s long twentieth century.

"States of Imagination" panel, from left to right: Omar Sirri (University of Toronto), Pelle Valentin Olsen (University of Chicago), Carl Shook (University of Chicago), and Annie Greene (University of Chicago)

“States of Imagination” panel, from left to right: Omar Sirri (University of Toronto), Pelle Valentin Olsen (University of Chicago), Carl Shook (University of Chicago), and Annie Greene (University of Chicago)

On behalf of all the presenters, we would like to express our gratitude to our panel chair and discussant, Peter Wien, for his time and thoughtful, constructive comments. We would also like to thank TAARII for sponsoring our panel, and all who attended for contributing to an engaging and productive discussion.

Conference: “Oral History in Times of Change: Gender, Documentation and the Making of Archives”

In September 2015, The Women Forum and Memory organized an international conference on “Oral History in Times of Change: Gender, Documentation and the Making of Archives,” in Cairo, Egypt. The conference was organized in co-operation with The Supreme Council for Culture in Cairo and UN Women. It was organized to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the establishment of Women Forum and Memory, which aims to produce alternative knowledge by constructing an archive of women’s voices.

The conference brought together scholars, researchers, students, artists, and practitioners to exchange views and experiences regarding the challenges of documenting oral histories in times of change. It focused on methodological and theoretical issues regarding the documentation of oral history and the creation of archives. The major questions that participants were urged to address included: What are the potential and limits of oral history projects in times of change? What are the challenges facing oral historians in such times? How can oral history empower women to become active participants in politics? What are the challenges posed by the digital revolution in the field of oral history? What are the challenges to the construction of a “representative” archive of voices in times of conflict?

Lucine Taminian (center-right) discussing oral history with researchers from Egypt, Yemen, and Iraq (Photo courtesy of Alaa Hameed, 2015)

Lucine Taminian (center-right) discussing oral history with researchers from Egypt, Yemen, and Iraq (Photo courtesy of Alaa Hameed, 2015)

The three-day conference started on September 13. Participants came from fourteen countries: Algeria, Canada, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Sudan, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States.

The conference program consisted of eight panels, three keynote presentations, and two round tables. Other activities included the screening of two films, “Four Women of Egypt” and “In the Shadow of a Man,” and the Exhibit of the Private Papers of Wedad Mitiri (1927-2007), who was a prominent figure and unionist in the Egyptian national leftist movement. Recorded interviews with her were played while we walked through the exhibit.

I was invited to present a paper on “Oral History in Times of Conflict: Ethical and Methodological Issues.” My presentation was informed by my experience as senior researcher for TAARII’s Iraqi Oral History Project (IOHP), where more than 180 Iraqis living outside Iraq were interviewed. I explored the following questions, using examples from the oral histories we collected: Why do people remember what they remember? How does memory work? What challenges do oral historians face when documenting oral histories in times of conflict? How do the methods and ethics of documenting oral histories differ from other research methods and ethics?

Panel participants fielding questions from the audience (Photo courtesy of Alaa Hameed, 2015)

Panel participants fielding questions from the audience (Photo courtesy of Alaa Hameed, 2015)

Three additional panelists raised the challenges entailed in using oral histories. Sandra Hale, who has worked extensively in Sudan, questioned the application of “expert knowledge” as intervention in crisis. She raised three interesting questions: How can scholars interpret the various forms of knowledge produced by fact-finding missions, “truth” and reconciliation commissions, and witnessing and testimonies? How can we retrieve a form of knowledge from either the collective memory or individual memories to guide us in conflict resolution? Is indigenous knowledge/memory more valid than information produced by “experts” with its claim of “objectivity”? Nadje al-Ali from the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), whose project documented the oral histories of Iraqi women, explored the issue of using oral histories when the prevailing narratives are politicized, contested, and linked to power struggles. Finally, Hessah Lootah, from United Arab Emirates University, talked about the challenges involved in “preserving” oral heritage, which entails reducing it and transferring it from an action-interaction space into one of “reading” and “classification.”

A number of presenters in other panels raised the issue of social media as a source of oral history. For instance, Randi Degulhem, from The Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (National Center for Scientific Research in France), researched two websites of Syrian activists (she calls them “amateur historians”) who collect short testimonies, video narratives, paper publications, graffiti, etc., and place them on the websites to document the history of the Syrian uprising. Nahawand Eissa, from the Lebanese University, shed light on the narratives of what she called “historian-citizens” who created new spaces made possible by recent advances in technology to document their memory without mediators. These presentations raise two related issues: how oral is an online text, and the relationship between orality and writing.

A number of presenters approached the multiple genres of oral history: popular working class songs, novels as depository of oral history, memoirs, testimonies, and drama as an archive of women’s experience.

The first round table, “Archives and Power,” focused on state control over the production of documents and archives, and raised two questions: If the state controls the production of documents, what about documents in the times of the Internet? And, how does state control limit/facilitate researchers’ access to an archive? The second round table, “Feminist Archives and the Production of Alternative Knowledge,” concerned three major questions: What is the nature of a “feminist archive”? What is alternative knowledge? What are the criteria for identifying knowledge as worthy of being preserved and documented?

The American University in Cairo has offered to publish a select number of conference papers in a special issue of Cairo Papers in Social Science (CPSS), a quarterly refereed monograph series, which has become a digital publication as of 2015.

The conference participants having dinner at a Mamluk Palace functioning currently as a cultural center (Photo credit: Lucine Taminian, 2015)

The conference participants having dinner at a Mamluk Palace functioning currently as a cultural center (Photo credit: Lucine Taminian, 2015)

TAARII Receptions at ASOR and MESA 2015

TAARII is pleased to announce that it will be holding receptions at both The American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR) or Middle East Studies Association (MESA) conferences this year. If you are attending either of those conferences, please stop by our reception! Members, non-members, and anyone who is interested in Iraq studies is welcome.

TAARII’s Reception at ASOR

When: Thursday, November 19th at 6:30–7:30 pm

Where: Hope I & II, The InterContinental Buckhead Atlanta Hotel, Atlanta, Georgia

TAARII’s Reception at MESA

When: Saturday, November 21st at 4:00–6:00 pm

Where: T2-Tower Court C, Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel, Denver, Colorado

Papers on Iraq at MESA, November 21–24, 2015

The Middle East Studies Association is hosting its Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado, at the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel from November 21–24, 2015.

The following are a list of papers to be presented at MESA this year that have Iraq-related content. For more information on the presenters or the abstract of the papers, please click on the provided links.

TAARII-Sponsored Panel

[P4034] States of Imagination: Four Perspectives on Iraqi Political Culture, 1900-2014. Created by Annie GreeneMonday, 11/23/15 11:00am

Presentations with Iraq Content

[P4183-17543] “To Strengthen Faith and Commitment”: The Contours of Iraqi-Sudanese Relations, 1979-2003 by Michael Brill (Monday, 11/23/15 5:00pm)

[P4231-17014] (Mis)Representing the Sunni Uprising in Iraq: Culture Talk and the “Islamic State” by Tim Jacoby (Monday, 11/23/15 8:30am)

[P4060-17094] A Necessary Other: Muslim and Christian Leaders in Medieval Eastern Anatolia and Jazīra by Thomas Carlson (Sunday, 11/22/15 11:00am)

[P4232-17044] A Phoenix in Ashes: Modernist Poetry in Iran and Iraq by Thomas Thompson (Sunday, 11/22/15 8:30am)

[P4139-17957] A Tale of Two Governments in a Divided City: Maintenance of Public Order in Baghdad During The Early Seljuq Era by Mohammed Allehbi (Tuesday, 11/24/15 1:30pm)

[P4170-18117] Al-Sadr’s Indigenization Strategies and the Emergence of Iraqi Arab Shi‘ism by Robert J. Riggs (Sunday, 11/22/15 2:00pm)

[P4026-17011] Allies Divided: Differing Israeli, American and Turkish Understandings of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) by Yasin Bostanci (Monday, 11/23/15 5:00pm)

[P4176-17535] Assyrians and the Narrative of the Simile Massacre by Fadi Dawood (Monday, 11/23/15 2:30pm)

[P4014-17243] Assyrians in Ba’thist Iraq: From “National Minority” to “Religious Denomination.” by Alda Benjamen (Monday, 11/23/15 8:30am)

[P4231-18006] Ayatollahs and the Battle over Religion in Post-Saddam Iraq by Caroleen Sayej (Monday, 11/23/15 8:30am)

[S4295-18156] Between Two Rivers: A Hydropolitical History of Iraq by Janna Aladdin (Saturday, 11/21/15 4:00pm)

[P4135-17294] British intelligence and colonial control: The internment and freedom of Arab “renegades” during and after the Second World War. by Steven Wagner (Tuesday, 11/24/15 1:30pm)

[P4189-17549] Caught in the Trap of Memory: Trauma, Border Crossing, and Hyperrealism in Hassan Blasim’s “The Iraqi Christ” by Khaled Al-Masri (Sunday, 11/22/15 11:00am)

[P4269-17712] Changing the Program: The AIU Girls’ School in Baghdad After WWI by Jonathan Sciarcon (Monday, 11/23/15 8:30am)

[P4106-17175] Conducted Chaos: Frontiering Iraq’s Anbar Province by Kali Rubaii (Tuesday, 11/24/15 11:00am)

[P4139-17398] Courtiers in the Cairo, Shiraz, and Baghdad Courts: Does a Common Pool of Personnel mean Common Court Cultures? by Rachel T. Howes (Tuesday, 11/24/15 1:30pm)

[P4071-17899] Don’t Take It Seriously: Roasting the Patron in the Early Ninth Century by Jeannie Miller (Sunday, 11/22/15 2:00pm)

[P4185-17699] Dynastic power as messianic promise: Forms of monotheistic messianism in the Abbasid caliphate (ca. 750-850 C.E.) by Hayrettin Yucesoy (Saturday, 11/21/15 5:30pm)

[P4161-17862] Efforts in Iraq to document and preserve cultural heritage in crisis by Katharyn Hanson (Tuesday, 11/24/15 11:00am)

[P4026-17325] EU and Turkish Foreign Policy in the Middle East and ISIS: Pragmatism vs. Ideology? by Ioannis N. Grigoriadis (Monday, 11/23/15 5:00pm)

[P4064-17043] Fight, Flee, or Foment: Soldier Responses to Iraq’s 1991 Uprising by Dorothy Ohl (Sunday, 11/22/15 8:30am)

[P4034-17409] From Baghdad with Love: Negotiating Ottoman-Iraqi Regionalism under the CUP by Annie Greene (Monday, 11/23/15 11:00am)

[P4253-17056] From Jahilliya to Protection: Tanzimat Reforms and Changing Ottoman Attitudes toward Antiquities by Jameel Haque (Sunday, 11/22/15 8:30am)

[P4142-17309] From Mamluk to Sultan: Appropriating Legitimacy by Visual Means – The Case of Badr al-Dīn Lu’lu’ by Dana Brostowsky Gilboa (Monday, 11/23/15 11:00am)

[P4243-17102] Homeland Ties, Community Cohesion and Youth Disengagement?: Middle Eastern Christian Diasporic Humanitarian and Political Activism in the UK by Fiona McCallum (Tuesday, 11/24/15 11:00am)

[P4034-18059] Idle Days in Baghdad: Coffee Shops and the Dangers of Unsupervised Intellectual Activity by Pelle Valentin Olsen (Monday, 11/23/15 11:00am)

[P4268-17956] John Van Ess’s High Hope and the National Education System in Iraq in the Early Twentieth Century by Israa Alhassani (Sunday, 11/22/15 2:00pm)

[P4253-17871] Legitimizing Middle Eastern Lineages through Archaeology : Hormuzd Rassam and the Making of an Assyrian National History by Joseph Hermiz (Sunday, 11/22/15 8:30am)

[P4170-17846] Modern Usuli Shi‘ism as a Transnational Movement by Zackery Heern (Sunday, 11/22/15 2:00pm)

[P4161-17471] Monitoring Cultural Heritage in Conflict Using Satellite Imagery: Syria and Iraq by Susan Wolfinbarger (Tuesday, 11/24/15 11:00am)

[P4176-18003] Nation and Identity in Post-2003 Iraq: Re-inserting the Assyrians by Mariam Georgis (Monday, 11/23/15 2:30pm)

[P4079-17122] Ottoman Hydraulic Projects and Condominium Rule in Iraq, 1638-1750 by Faisal Husain (Sunday, 11/22/15 4:30pm)

[P4272-16990] Post-2003 Iraqi Women’s Rights Activism: between Ngos, Sectarianism and Rise of Conservatisms by Zahra Ali (Monday, 11/23/15 11:00am)

[P4126-17312] Pre-2003 Iraq: Sectarian Relations Before ‘Sectarianization’. by Fanar Haddad (Saturday, 11/21/15 5:30pm)

[P4034-17924] Rivers and Ruins: the British imperial episteme of Iraq’s geo-space by Carl Shook (Monday, 11/23/15 11:00am)

[P4236-16955] Rumors as Resistance in Iraq under Saddam Hussein: Evidence from the Ba`th Party Bureaucracy by Lisa Blaydes (Sunday, 11/22/15 4:30pm)

[P4126-17247] Sectarianization and the Aporias of the Islamic Republic’s Pan-Islamist Hegemony: Iran’s Interventions in Iraq and Syria Compared by Eskandar Sadeghi-Boroujerdi (Saturday, 11/21/15 5:30pm)

[P4034-17552] Seeing, perceiving and believing the spatial politics of Baghdad by Omar Sirri (Monday, 11/23/15 11:00am)

[P4080-17172] Stories beyond progress and modernity. Archaeologies in the Ancient Near East by Mirjam Brusius (Saturday, 11/21/15 5:30pm)

[P4118-17236] Subversive Teachers and the Limits of Rebellion: Government Schooling across the Interwar Middle East by Hilary Falb Kalisman (Sunday, 11/22/15 8:30am)

[P4231-17440] Sunnis, Shi’a, and the State in Iraq since 2003: The Construction of a Sectarian-Authoritarian State by Nassima Neggaz (Monday, 11/23/15 8:30am)

[P4139-17443] The contested history of the early Mazyadid amirate and its role in the fourth-fifth/tenth-eleventh century political arena by Eric J. Hanne (Tuesday, 11/24/15 1:30pm)

[P4231-17155] The Socio-Political Aspect of the Ba’th Government-Sponsored Militias in Northern Iraq: New Archival Findings by Yaniv Voller (Monday, 11/23/15 8:30am)

[P4251-17832] The ‘Always, Already Hybrid’ one: The Diaries of Alexander Svoboda from Baghdad to Paris and Back. by Huma Gupta (Tuesday, 11/24/15 11:00am)

[P4129-17567] Transporting Iraqi Oil: Empire, internationalism and the politics of the Iraq-Mediterranean oil pipeline, 1928-31 by Natasha Pesaran (Tuesday, 11/24/15 1:30pm)

[P4183-17690] War and Regime Entrenchment in Saddam’s Iraq by Samuel Helfont (Monday, 11/23/15 5:00pm)

[P4017-17237] When Wounds Travel by Omar Dewachi (Sunday, 11/22/15 4:30pm)

[P4017-17425] Winning Hearts and Minds: Environment as a form of Humanitarianism in the Recent Iraq War by Bridget Guarasci (Sunday, 11/22/15 4:30pm)

[P4178-17504] Witnessing Traumas, Performing Alterity in Heather Raffo’s 9 Parts of Desire by Hanadi Al-Samman (Monday, 11/23/15 2:30pm)

[P4183-18017] “Culturalization” in Baʿthist Iraq by Aaron Faust (Monday, 11/23/15 5:00pm)

[P4080-17692] “Rending the Veils of Time and Space”: `Ali al-Wardi, Decolonization, and the Sciences of the Self by Sara Pursley (Saturday, 11/21/15 5:30pm)

Conference Report: Radical Increments – Toward New Platforms of Engaging Iraqi Studies

 A Conference Report by Alda Benjamen, Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of History at the University of Maryland, College Park, and TAARII Representative

On April 24 and 25, 2015 Columbia University in the City of New York hosted a conference focusing on Iraqi studies, entitled “Radical Increments: Toward New Platforms of Engaging Iraqi Studies.” The conference was co-organized by Dr. Muhsin al-Musawa (Columbia University), Dr. Yasmeen Hanoosh (Portland State University), and Dr. Abeer Shaheen (Columbia University), and sponsored by the Columbia University’s Middle East Institute and Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies Department, and Dr. Aziz and Arwa al-Shaibani. One of the goals of the conference was “to create an informed space to address major intellectual and political issues pertinent to Iraq in a manner that bears practical utility.” As a result the conference successfully intertwined speakers from interdisciplinary fields who presented rich material pertaining to institution building and spaces, secular and religious politics, literature, and Iraqi Diasporas. Presenters included highly noted academics, alongside more junior scholars with intriguing academic projects. Also accounted for were internationally acclaimed Iraqi novelists, Iraqi government representatives, and NGO activists. All panels, with the exception of one, were in English, the last being in Arabic. The intermix of disciplines and perspectives fostered an engaging conference.

Introductions by Dr. Muhsin al-Musawi, conference co-organizer (Photo Credit: Alda Benjamen, 2015)

Introductions by Dr. Muhsin al-Musawi, conference co-organizer (Photo Credit: Alda Benjamen, 2015)

The conference commenced with a welcome speech given by Dr. Muhsin al-Musawi and opening remarks by Dr. Lila Abu-Lughod (Columbia University). This was followed by an opening presentation by Dr. Mohamed Ali Alhakim, Iraq Permanent Representative and Ambassador to the United Nations, who provided statistics about Iraqi higher educational institutions and the number of students enrolled inside the country and abroad with government funding. In his presentation, he strived to paint a picture of Iraq as a country with a positive future, irrespective of the decades of violence the country had been subjected to. Dr. Eric Davis (Rutgers University) gave the keynote address entitled “‘Covering’ and ‘Uncovering’ Iraq: Memory, Place, Authenticity,” in which he challenged the popular representations of Iraq as either an artificial society based on sectarian divides or a fifth column to neighboring countries, especially Iran. Instead, he argued that multiple Iraqi representations existed, where positive, civic and inclusive ones could be created as well. In his presentation, he demonstrated how Iraqi youth transgressed sectarianism within their civic society organizations and cultural production programs, such as the popular television show, “Love and War.” Davis argued that inside Iraq, teachers, academics, intellectuals, newspaper and journal editors were crucial in rebuilding Iraq’s educational system and teaching youth critical thinking skills based on the country’s history. He also advised the international academic community to stop viewing Iraq’s development, including how it was represented, as a “spectator sport,” concluding with “those of us who care about Iraq must be committed to helping it.”

Keynote address by Dr. Eric Davis (Photo Credit: Alda Benjamen, 2015)

Keynote address by Dr. Eric Davis (Photo Credit: Alda Benjamen, 2015)

Slide presentation by Dr. Eric Davis, "Anti-Sectarian activity, Iraqi youth 2013" (Photo Credit: Alda Benjamen, 2015)

Slide presentation by Dr. Eric Davis, “Anti-Sectarian activity, Iraqi youth 2013″ (Photo Credit: Alda Benjamen, 2015)

 Slide presentation by Dr. Eric Davis, "Many Iraqis refused to celebrate their Eid in solidarity with Christians in Mosul" (Photo Credit: Alda Benjamen, 2015)

Slide presentation by Dr. Eric Davis, “Many Iraqis refused to celebrate their Eid in solidarity with Christians in Mosul” (Photo Credit: Alda Benjamen, 2015)

Dr. Yasmeen Hanoosh chaired the first session of the conference: “Institutions, Infrastructure, Space.” The session included a presentation by Dr. Abeer Shaheen, “God’s Eye View into Transparent Baghdad.” Shaheen described how Baghdad came to be defined as a city under security parameters following the U.S. invasion in 2003. The imposition of physical barriers, such as walls between neighborhoods based on sectarian divides, further segregated Baghdadis. In “Baghdad Resolve: An International Collaboration to Improve Cancer Care in Iraq,” Claudia Lefko of the Iraqi Children’s Art Exchange, described the formation of an international connection project in 2012 where American children sent art to hospitalized Iraqi children diagnosed with cancer. She provided concerning statistics about the increased mortality rate in Iraq for children under five years of age, as well as the increased cancer rates for children in general. Adding to this dilemma was the decline in Iraqi social organization and schools, along with the isolation of Iraqi doctors given years of instability and war. In “Virtual Realities: The Wartime Labor of Eden in Iraq’s Marshes,” Dr. Bridget Guarasci (Oberlin College) described the material dimension of virtuality, which she tackled by engaging in an international project that aimed to restore the marshes in Iraq post 2003. Eden’s restoration came to be considered by the international community the success story of the Iraq war, though it had little effect on the actual marshes and local population. Guarasci considered the marshes restoration project the hyper simulation that did not correspond to reality. Finally, Dr. Emily Stetler’s (Mount St. Mary’s University) presentation, “Education for a New National Identity: Sketching an Iraqi Critical Pedagogy,” stipulated that Iraq’s prospects lie in the ability of its diverse youth to envision a future. An inclusive curriculum that engaged all communities was crucial in this vision. As Stetler concluded, for “Sunnis, Shi‘is, Assyrians, Turkomens, Kurds and Caucasians, the conversation begins in the classroom.”

Dr. Yasmeen Hanoosh, conference co-organizer (Photo Credit: Alda Benjamen, 2015)

Dr. Yasmeen Hanoosh, conference co-organizer (Photo Credit: Alda Benjamen, 2015)

Slide presentation by Dr. Bridget Guarasci, "Narrative Labor on Eden" (Photo Credit: Alda Benjamen, 2015)

Slide presentation by Dr. Bridget Guarasci, “Narrative Labor on Eden” (Photo Credit: Alda Benjamen, 2015)

 

Dr. Bridget Guarasci, “Virtual Realities: The Wartime Labor of Eden in Iraq’s Marshes” (Photo Credit: Alda Benjamen, 2015)

Dr. Bridget Guarasci, “Virtual Realities: The Wartime Labor of Eden in Iraq’s Marshes” (Photo Credit: Alda Benjamen, 2015)

Dr. Mohammad Salama chaired the second session, “Secularism, Religion, Politics.” Dr. Jabbar al-Obaidi’s (Bridgewater State University) presentation was entitled, “Iraqi Media Post 2003: An Analytical, Historical, and Political Overview.” In it, al-Obaidi described the five types of media ownership existing in Iraq post 2003: Sectarian Media Ownership, Ideological Media Ownership, Independent Media Ownership, and American Media Ownership. The Independent Media was the smallest type of media ownership, with fewer financial abilities but with an independent and inclusive voice. Al-Obaidi concluded by stressing the need for an inclusive rhetoric and denouncing the employment of racist terminology by these agencies. Henrik Andersen (independent researcher) discussed corruption in Iraq in his talk, “The Politics of Corruption and Organized Crime in Contemporary Iraq.” He described the intricate connections linking militias to Iraqi politicians and parties. As a result, average citizens felt disconnected from the state and distrustful of its ability to protect them. Andersen further described the state of corruption in other government agencies and ministries in both the Iraqi central and the KRG regional governments. Finally, the presentation of Yaseen Raad (American University of Beirut) was read in absentia as he was not able to secure a visa to the U.S. His presentation was entitled, “Consolidating Socio-Spatial Practices in a Militarized Public Space: The Case of Abu Nuwas Street in Baghdad.”

Henrik Andersen, “The Politics of Corruption and Organized Crime in Contemporary Iraq” (Photo Credit: Alda Benjamen, 2015)

Henrik Andersen, “The Politics of Corruption and Organized Crime in Contemporary Iraq” (Photo Credit: Alda Benjamen, 2015)

Dr. Muhsin al-Musawi chaired the third session, entitled “Iraq in Literature.” Dr. Moneera al-Ghadeer (Columbia University) described the “Cannibalizing Iraq,” as relating to colonial violence, and focused specifically on the interrogation operation at Abu Ghraib prison carried out by American soldiers. Daniel Wolk’s (University of Chicago) presentation, “Confronting Corruption in the Iraqi City from Afar: Ṣakhī’s Khalfa al Saddah/Durūb al-fiqdān and al-Dāhūdī’s Dhākirat madinah munqariḍah,” described conceptual frameworks of corruption in Iraqi novels. Dr. Ikram Masmoudi’s (University of Delaware) talk, “Desertion: Then and Now,” compared the massive population flights of Yezidi, Christian, Sunni, and other Iraqis following the occupation of the Islamic State of Mosul and its vicinities in the summer of 2014, to the state of desertion Iraqis experienced during the Iran-Iraq war. Masmoudi argued that the Iraqi psyche was still narrated by the past and words such as “deserter” occupied the mind of contemporary Iraqi novelists, as desertion then and now conveyed a perennial response to coercion, abuse and killing. Dr. Mohammad Salama’s (San Francisco State University) presentation titled, “A Mimesis of the Future: The Dialectic of Writing and Forgetting in Luay Ḥamza ‘Abbās,” argued that ‘Abbās’ writing triggered an alternative thinking of effaced cities and mutilated memories in order to articulate a mimesis of the future which did not currently exist.

The fourth session, “Diasporic Continuities” was chaired by Dr. Jabbbar al-Obaidi. Deborah al-Najjar (University of Southern California), in “Iraq and the Consolidation of Grief,” engaged with cultural production as an imaginative space in which Iraqi Studies was re-conceptualized. She focused specifically on Dr. Sinan Antoon’s The Corpse Washer. Dr. Sobia Khan (Richland College), in “Enacting Disaster: The Iraqi Nights, a Site of Conflict and Crisis,” discussed the anguish for the homeland in Dunya Mikhail’s writings, befittingly evoked by Mikhail in this verse: “homeland. I am not your mother, so why do you weep in my lap like this every time something hurts you?” The Arabic original of this verse was written along an image of a broken brick wall, resembling a Sumerian tablet. Reemah al-Urfali’s (American University in Cairo) presentation, titled, “Translating Iraqi Women’s Literature: Between Gender and Genre,” described the ways in which Iraqi female writings were translated to English, relying on certain political ideologies and gender expectations intelligible to English readers. Finally, Dena al-Adeeb (New York University), in “Architecture of Trauma: Embodied Practices and Resistance,” focused on the Shi‘i practices of mourning post 2003 and their utilization in new political, religious, and social formations to transform previously marginalized Shi‘i communities from the periphery to the center.

Panel participants Samuel Shimon, Dr. Taher al-Bakka, Dr. Jabbar al-Obaidi, Shakir Noori, Ali Badr, and Dr. Ikram Masmoudi (Photo Credit: Alda Benjamen, 2015)

Panel participants Samuel Shimon, Dr. Taher al-Bakka, Dr. Jabbar al-Obaidi, Shakir Noori, Ali Badr, and Dr. Ikram Masmoudi (Photo Credit: Alda Benjamen, 2015)

The fifth session, chaired by Dr. Ikram Masmoudi, was presented in Arabic and titled, “Writing in Post-Occupation Iraq: Session in Arabic with Translation.” The first speaker was Dr. Taher al-Bakka, former Minister of Higher Education in Iraq, 2004–2005. Al-Bakka provided background on the effects of the 2003 war and absence of power on higher education. During this period, 1,600 Iraqi professors left their posts and 500 were killed. In the aftermath of the war, Iraqi political parties heightened their influence on academic institutions, whereby their religious and political views were imposed on universities (for example, certain deans forced female students, including Christians, to wear the Islamic veil). Al-Bakka concluded with ways in which universities can improve, chiefly in being politically and religiously independent. Turning to the audience, he stated: “Iraq and its higher education are in need of your pens and your intellects.” Samuel Shimon (Banipal Literary Magazine, U.K.) discussed his literary career focusing on his novel Iraqi in Paris. He also shed light on his current memoir, which will tackle his experience in the Iraqi civil war of the 1970s — although an Assyrian, Shimon fought in the Kurdish uprising against the Iraqi regime. Shimon further explored the importance of teaching tolerance, and how Iraqi pluralism was reflected in his novels. Shakir Noori, (Iraqi journalist and novelist) illustrated the important relationship between a historical period and the novel. He lamented the absence of the Iraqi novel within this genre and described his role in rectifying this by writing war novels. As a novelist, Noori wrote while war was going on instead of waiting for it to end, preferring not to distance himself from the immediate sentiments associated with war. Finally, Ali Badr (Iraqi journalist and novelist) described his numerous novels, including The Tobacco Keeper and the Sinful Woman. He vividly illustrated a lucid dream while stationed in Alqosh as soldier in the 1990s. He woke up to write what he considers to be his masterpiece, The Road to Moutran Hill, a novel about a Christian character, in 24 hours. Badr was 22 years of age at the time.

The closing remarks were provided by Dr. Muhsin al-Musawi. He introduced plans for the formation of an Iraqi Center, where larger conferences on Iraqi studies can be organized. The conference co-organizers are planning to publish the conference proceedings, along with additional compelling submissions on the topic, in a co-edited volume.

Iraqi Scholar Participates in Carnegie-funded Workshop in Jordan

I participated in the Arab Regional Fellowship Workshop held at American Center of Oriental Research (ACOR) in Amman, Jordan, October 19–­21, 2014. The workshop was organized by the Council of American Overseas Research Centers (CAORC).

The workshop was attended by a remarkable number of academics and researchers, who represented a wide variety of universities and institutions from different Arab countries.

Abubakir Majeed (Hawler Medical University, Erbil), Amir Khalil  (Benzirt University, Palestine), and Mehdi Souiah (D'Oran University, Algeria) at the Arab Regional Workshop, ACOR (Photo Credit: Barbara Porter, October 2014)

Abubakir Majeed (Hawler Medical University, Erbil), Amir Khalil (Benzirt University, Palestine), and Mehdi Souiah (D’Oran University, Algeria) at the Arab Regional Workshop, ACOR (Photo Credit: Barbara Porter, October 2014)

The agenda of the workshop was impressive. It was designed to facilitate exchange and strengthen the networking among more than 30 academics and researchers from all branches of science including humanities and social sciences.

Participants in the Arab Regional Workshop with Directors Laryssa, Bobb, and Angel in the library at ACOR (Photo Credit: Barbara Porter, October 2014)

Participants in the Arab Regional Workshop with Directors Laryssa, Bobb, and Angel in the library at ACOR (Photo Credit: Barbara Porter, October 2014)

On the second day of the workshop, every fellow presented his or her project. My project is about a quality assurance process in higher education in Iraq, which is a new topic. I will use Q-methodology, which is a new methodology that combines the strength of both quantitative and qualitative methods. I received a lot of feedback and comments from mentors and other colleagues, which will improve my project.

The workshop was a real and genuine opportunity for me and gave me a chance to know, share ideas, and build networks with many scholars from several countries.

Lucine Taminian, Resident Director of TAARII, and Abubakir Majeed, from Hawler Medical University, Erbil, at the Arab Regional Workshop Reception, ACOR (Photo Credit: Barbara Porter, October 2014)

Lucine Taminian, Resident Director of TAARII, and Abubakir Majeed, from Hawler Medical University, Erbil, at the Arab Regional Workshop Reception, ACOR (Photo Credit: Barbara Porter, October 2014)

Thanks so much to CAORC for giving me the chance to participate in the Arab Regional Fellowship Workshop and for providing the funds to complete my project.

Dr. Abubakir Majeed Saleh
Director of Academic Relations, Hawler Medical University, Erbil-Iraq & CAORC Arab Regional Fellow

TAARII Receptions at ASOR and MESA

TAARII is pleased to announce that it will be holding receptions at both The American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR) or Middle East Studies Association (MESA) conferences this year. If you are attending either of those conferences, please stop by our reception! Members, non-members, and anyone who is interested in Iraq studies is welcome.

TAARII’s Reception at ASOR

When: Wednesday, November 19th at 5:30–6:30 pm

Where: Topaz/Broadway Terrace, 2nd floor of The Westin San Diego

TAARII’s Reception at MESA

When: Saturday, November 22nd at 4:00–6:00 pm

Where: Delaware B, Washington Marriot Wardman Park, Washington, D.C.

Papers on Iraq at MESA, November 22-25, 2014

The Middle East Studies Association is hosting its 48th Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel from November 22–25, 2014.

The following are a list of papers to be presented at MESA this year that have Iraq-related content. For more information on the presenters or the abstract of the papers, please click on the provided links.

A Genealogy of Aziz al-Sayyid Jasim’s Theorem by Muhsin J. Al-Musawi (Tuesday, 11/25/14 8:30am)

Al-Bāqillānī’s theological contribution to i‘jāz al-Qur’ān discourse by Rachel Friedman (Tuesday, 11/25/14 8:30am)

Al-Qaida in Iraq: Origins, Evolution and Peculiarities from Abu Musab al-Zarqawi till Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham by Andrea Plebani (Monday, 11/24/14 11:00am)

An Invitation to Create Meaning: The “Participating Reader” in Muḥammad Khuḍayyir’s Fiction by Chip Rossetti (Sunday, 11/23/14 2:00pm)

Are the Kurds Missing the Boat? by Mohammed M.A. Ahmed (Saturday, 11/22/14 5:30pm)

Assyrians in Hashemite Iraq: Mass Violence as State-Building by Russell Hopkins (Sunday, 11/23/14 11:00am)

Authoritarianism and Statebuilding in Iraq: Framing the role of Exclusionary Institutions by Shamiran Mako (Sunday, 11/23/14 8:30am)

Aziz al-Sayyid Jasim’s critique of Sufism in Modern Arabic Poetics by Boutheina Khaldi (Tuesday, 11/25/14 8:30am)

Ballots to Bombs: Elections and Cycles of Violence in post-invasion Iraq by Christina Sciabarra (Saturday, 11/22/14 5:30pm)

Breaking Taboos in Iraq – the Case of Gha’ib Tu’ma Farman by Hilla Peled-Shapira (Tuesday, 11/25/14 8:30am)

Cholera in the Time of Empire: Imperialism and Public Health in 19th Century Baghdad by Kearby Chess (Sunday, 11/23/14 11:00am)

Conceptualizing Sectarianism in Iraq by Zainab Saleh (Monday, 11/24/14 5:00pm)

Confusion and Consent: Land Tax Laws and Policies of the Early Islamic State (640-810 CE) by Najm al-Din Yousefi (Tuesday, 11/25/14 11:00am)

Contesting Charismatic Authority: Qadiri Sufism in Iraqi Kurdistan by Edith Szanto (Monday, 11/24/14 5:00pm)

Disputed territories in KRG: a national identity issue by Daniel Meier (Tuesday, 11/25/14 11:00am)

Fatima’s Khutba: An Early Case of Female Religious Authority in Islam by Alyssa Gabbay (Sunday, 11/23/14 2:00pm)

From Efendi to Mühendis: The Transformation of the Turkish Political Elite by Dale Stahl (Sunday, 11/23/14 2:00pm)

I Used to be a Communist: Re-Reading al-Sayyab’s Memoir by Elliott Colla (Tuesday, 11/25/14 11:00am)

Il Faut Defendre Saddam? Oil, State Racism, and Iraqi State Biopower in the 1980s by Michael Degerald (Sunday, 11/23/14 8:30am)

ILLUMINATING A STATE: State-building and electricity in occupied Iraq by Nida Alahmad (Monday, 11/24/14 5:00pm)

Impact of Imperialism: Gender in Syria and Iraq by Adi Greif (Monday, 11/24/14 8:30am)

Jews and “Apostates”: Geonic Literature on Conversion by Phillip Ackerman-Lieberman (Monday, 11/24/14 11:00am)

Just Keep the Sheep Thieves Away: Minority Challenges to Iraqi Nation-State Building, 1933-1945 by Sanket Desai (Sunday, 11/23/14 11:00am)

Mapping the Social: Kinship Networks and Ottoman Reform by Rachel Brown (Sunday, 11/23/14 11:00am)

Multilingualism and Multiple Modernities: Ma’ruf al-Rusafi, The Private Press, and the Iraqi Nahda by Annie Greene (Tuesday, 11/25/14 11:00am)

Nation and Identity Construction in Iraq by Mariam Georgis (Sunday, 11/23/14 8:30am)

Nation(s)-state(s): Competing sovereignties and sectarianism in post-invasion Iraq by Yousef Baker (Monday, 11/24/14 2:30pm)

Not Everyone Returns: The risks of travel in the novels of Taha Husayn and Mahmud Ahmad al-Sayyid by Valentine Edgar (Sunday, 11/23/14 2:00pm)

Political Competition, Insurgency, and Post-2003 Violence in Iraq by Jonathan Barsness (Saturday, 11/22/14 5:30pm)

Provinces for Minorities: Re-Mapping Iraq’s Internal Boundaries by Nicholas Al-Jeloo (Tuesday, 11/25/14 8:30am)

Remembering Karbalāʾ: The Construction of an Early Islamic Site of Memory by Antoine Borrut (Sunday, 11/23/14 4:30pm)

Restoring the Garden of Eden?: William Willcocks and the Remaking of Southern Iraq by Camille Cole (Sunday, 11/23/14 11:00am)

Sacred Defense: Islam and Nationalism in the Iran-Iraq War by Annie Tracy Samuel (Tuesday, 11/25/14 11:00am)

The (Un)makings of Iraq: The Campaign for an Independent Assyrian State (1921-1932) by Fadi Dawood (Saturday, 11/22/14 5:30pm)

The Advent of Psychology in Iraq: Nuri Jafar’s Theory of Originality by Aziz Shaibani (Tuesday, 11/25/14 11:00am)

The Creation of Husseini Ba’thism by Aaron Faust (Tuesday, 11/25/14 8:30am)

The Limits of Accommodation: Iraq, the Baath, and the Rise and Fall of Modernization Theory, 1958-72 by Brandon Wolfe-Hunnicutt (Sunday, 11/23/14 2:00pm)

The political and institutional role of charismatic bābs in 4th/10th century by Edmund Hayes (Saturday, 11/22/14 5:30pm)

The Political Anxieties of Iraqi Oil Since the 1920s by Arbella Bet-Shlimon (Monday, 11/24/14 8:30am)

The political economy of NGO Aid in the Middle East: a case study of Sadr City NGOs by Mehair Kathem (Tuesday, 11/25/14 1:30pm)

The Ṭālibid Syndics of Baghdad: Representatives of a Community in Transition by Mohammed Allehbi (Saturday, 11/22/14 5:30pm)

The United States, the Middle East, and the Imperialism Question by Matthew Kelly (Monday, 11/24/14 5:00pm)

The Visualization of an “Islamic State in Iraq and greater Syria” – Religio-political conflict mediatized by Christoph Guenther (Sunday, 11/23/14 4:30pm)

The “Ghulat Corpus” and its Authors by Mushegh Asatryan (Tuesday, 11/25/14 11:00am)

Toxic War in the Middle East by Toby C. Jones (Monday, 11/24/14 11:00am)

“Team Collusion” in Umayyad-era Flytings Poetry by Cory Jorgensen (Monday, 11/24/14 2:30pm)

For more information, please visit MESA’s website.