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