The description is submitted to:


Session C5030 (Usurpation: The Untold Stories of the Iraq War 2003-Present), 2017
Abstract (JBS):
Victims of History: Libraries and Archives in Iraq in the Late Modern Era

Starved for funds and managed under a system that forbade initiative and good governance during the regime of Saddam Hussein, libraries and archives of Iraq then fell victim to the criminal negligence exhibited by the American invaders in 2003, and the looting and arson that followed. The history of the Iraq National Library and Archive exemplifies this sorry story. What makes it stand out is the extraordinary career of Dr. Saad Eskander, who revived this dual institution out of the ashes in a remarkable fashion. However, even twelve years of enlightened stewardship on his part was not enough, because the disease of sectarianism and corruption that the American intervention did nothing to solve and, in fact, exacerbated, led to his ultimate dismissal, and the subsequent decline of the institution. At the same time, the unexpected and inexcusable triumph of ISIS in Mosul, born of the same failures of governance, led to catastrophic cultural losses, most notably to the main university library. These events will be addressed and placed in context.