Monthly Archives: July 2016

TAARII Awards Best Dissertation on Medieval/Modern Iraq

TAARII is pleased to announce the recipient of its bi-annual awards for the best U.S. doctoral dissertations on Iraq.

TAARII’s prize for the best dissertation on modern or medieval Iraq was awarded to Dr. Hilary Falb Kalisman, of the University of California, Berkeley, for her dissertation entitled: “Schooling the State: Educators in Iraq, Palestine and Transjordan, c. 1890–c. 1960.”

In her dissertation, Kalisman sheds light on the life trajectories of educators, in particular their relationship to the state and society, and their roles in the social, intellectual, and political life of 1890–1960. In recent years, more studies have emerged that are truly comparative and interested in connections and encounters. Kalisman’s thesis is a great example of this as she investigates education in three British mandate countries and how these educators navigated the British colonial network as they developed into a mobile and self-conscious class. This dissertation shifts our understanding of education and nationalism by exploring how these educators were shaped by regional connections. Additionally, Kalisman examines the continuities of the Ottoman and British education and school policies. She dismantles the binaries of the British vs. Ottoman and modernity vs. tradition by focusing on the persistence of the Ottoman legacy into the Mandate period. Finally, Kalisman’s study is an important contribution to the history of education in these countries, providing a rich historical narrative of the development of education in the region, the relationship between education and political culture, and the position of educators within the state and society during the late 19th century and the early 20th century, as well as the impact of mass education and standardization in the 1940s and 1950s.

TAARII will hold its next dissertation award competition in 2017 for dissertations defended during the 2015–2016 and 2016–2017 academic years. Submissions are invited from any discipline for the study of any time period. The competitions are open to U.S. citizens at any university worldwide and any student at a U.S. university. The amount of each award is $1,500.

Iraq’s al-Ahwar Marshes become UNESCO World Heritage Site

Yesterday in Istanbul, Turkey, during the afternoon of the last day of the 40th session, The World Heritage Committee added eight new sites to the UNESCO World Heritage List. Among the added sites is the Ahwar of Southern Iraq: Refuge of Biodiversity and the Relict Landscape of the Mesopotamian Cities in Iraq.

A Marsh Village in 1974.

UNESCO’s World Heritage Convention describes the site as such: “The Ahwar is made up of seven sites: three archaeological sites and four wetland marsh areas in southern Iraq. The archaeological cities of Uruk and Ur and the Tell Eridu archaeological site form part of the remains of the Sumerian cities and settlements that developed in southern Mesopotamia between the 4th and the 3rd millennium BCE in the marshy delta of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. The Ahwar of Southern Iraq – also known as the Iraqi Marshlands – are unique, as one of the world’s largest inland delta systems, in an extremely hot and arid environment.”

The marshes are located where the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers meet. Despite being home to the Madan, or Marsh Arabs, as well as host to many different types of flora and fauna, the marshes have been continuously depleted for various economic and political reasons. The population dropped from an estimated 500,000 in the 1950s to a mere 20,000 and the total area was greatly reduced. However, following the 2003 American invasion, many of the dams were destroyed and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) did much to help restore the marshes.

Reflecting on the new UNESCO inscription today, Peter Wien, President of TAARII, said, “The inclusion of the Iraqi Marshes on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites is a milestone, not least in terms of an acknowledgement of the importance of cultural heritage preservation for the country on its way towards a sustainable future. Iraq is extremely rich in heritage sites of world renown, of which only a handful have been recognized so far. TAARII hopes that social and political developments in Iraq and the broader region will allow that this is only the beginning in a long line of new admission that highlight Iraq’s central position on a world heritage map.”

Katharyn Hanson, TAARII’s Executive Director, added, “This is really fantastic news!”

The Mesopotamian Site of Ur.