[P4776] Iraq's Many Pasts, Iraq's Many Presents: Memory, Archive, and Representation

Created by Zainab Saleh
Sunday, 11/19/17 3:30pm


How do we look at Iraqi history and society beyond the realities created by the American Occupation and the failure of the Arab uprisings? How much does our perception of Iraq today shape our view of Iraq's past? Our panel seeks to think about the ways in which scholars conducted research about Iraq, and the new archival and research strategies they employed in recent years. With the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, the US government and its military reinforced old-fashioned Orientalism in Iraq, portraying the country as one plagued by primordial ethnic divisions undergirding an innate sectarianism. During the last fifteen years, however, scholars of Iraq aimed to dismantle these essentialist logics. Relying on historical, literary, and anthropological material, scholars have demonstrated a nuanced, and historically informed reading of social and political transformation in the 20th and 21st centuries. Forefronting the political agency of Iraqis themselves and the politics of everyday life, this panel presents new modes with which to consider nationalism, colonialism, sectarianism, gender, memory, oil production, and social history of war in light of the new scholarship. It examines new approaches to conceptualize Iraq's relationships with its many diasporas, and highlights the changing scholarly landscape on Iraq at the turn of the 21st century and the subsequent US occupation. Thinking about new archives available to scholars and the inability to go to Iraq to do archival and ethnographic research, scholars found innovative ways to circumvent the question of accessibility. They looked at existing archives in the United States, United Kingdom and Israel to examine the history of colonial rule, intellectual production, Baath policies, or the politics of oil under monarchical and republican Iraq. They also made use of the documents housed in the Hoover Institute to discuss how the state operated under Saddam Hussein's regime. In addition, they explored such phenomena as diasporic communities and transnational connections to study the formation of Iraqi exilic communities following the rise of Saddam Hussein to power in 1979 and nascent environmental politics after 2003. This panel will focus on these different approaches to the study of modern Iraq and raise a number of questions about the possibilities and limitations that scholars increasingly face as they attempt to write about countries they cannot visit and local archives they cannot access.






Dina Rizk Khoury

(George Washington University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Orit Bashkin

(University of Chicago)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Bridget Guarasci

(Franklin & Marshall College)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Zainab Saleh

(Haverford College)
Panel Participating Role(s): Chair; Organizer; Presenter;

Mona Damluji

(UC Santa Barbara)
Mona Damluji is Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Asian & Islamic Art History and Visual Culture at Wheaton College in Massachusetts. She received her PhD in Architecture from the University of California Berkeley. Her dissertation examines intersecting histories...
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;