Center for the Arts and Humanities

Shades of Occupation: Iraq After 10 Years

2013 Mellon Symposium, Organized by Zainab Saleh
Friday, March 29th, 2013

Shades of Occupation: Iraq After 10 Years

This interdisciplinary symposium will be held on the 10th anniversary of the US-led invasion of Iraq as a venue to examine multiple dimensions of the decade-long occupation. Despite the US Army's official withdrawal from the country, the US presence in Iraq as a military, economic and political force continues to loom large. Baghdad is home to the largest US embassy in the world. An enormous body of private security and other contractors remain in the country. The institutions installed by the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority since 2003 will continue to have far-reaching impact on the future of Iraq. Apart from military operations and sectarian violence, subversive aspects of the war and occupation, and the repercussions on Iraq have received little attention: the occupation of Iraq is the United States' Forgotten War.

The symposium approaches the invasion of Iraq in a historical and global context, whereby American empire, since the Cold War, attempted to control the politics and the resources of the country as well as the region. It brings together scholars who have been thinking, and writing, about the war from different perspectives, including oil, empire, perception of the Iraqi society, and the impact of wars on Iraq among others.


All events in Stokes 102 (#15 on map) unless noted otherwise.

Friday, March 29, 2013

9:00 a.m.

Breakfast and Introductory Remarks

9:45 a.m.

Empire, Violence & Society
"Exogenous Social Engineering; the United States failure to transform Iraq; 2003-2011"
Toby Dodge, London School of Economics and Political Science

"Turning a blind eye: Gendering Violence, Politics and Society"
Nadje Al-Ali, The School of Oriental and African Studies, University London

12:00 p.m.


1:15 p.m.

War Tales
"Writing the Dismembered Nation: Iraqi Narratives of War"
Haytham Bahoora, Colorado University - Boulder

"How the War changed the historiography"
Orit Bashkin, University of Chicago

3:30 p.m.

War of Images
"Command Visualization: The Rise and Fall of the Counterinsurgency"
Nicholas Mirzoeff, New York University

"Remarks on Truth and Knowledge: Using Art to Bear Witness to Torture in Iraq"
Daniel Heyman, Rhode Island School of Design, University of the Arts, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and Princeton University

5:30 p.m.

Comments and Discussion


Nadje Sadig Al-Ali
Nadje Sadig Al-Ali

Nadje Al-Ali is Professor of Gender Studies at the Centre for Gender Studies, at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. Her main research interests revolve around gender theory; feminist activism; women and gender in the Middle East; transnational migration and diaspora moblization; war, conflict and reconstruction; art & cultural studies and food. Her most recent book (co-edited with Deborah al-Najjar) is entitled We are Iraqis: Aesthetics & Politics in a Time of War (Syracuse University Press, January 2013) and other publications include What kind of Liberation? Women and the Occupation of Iraq and Women and War in the Middle East: Transnational Perspectives (both 2009 and co-authored with Nicola Pratt). Former President of the Association of Middle East Women's Studies (2009-2011), she recently was elected to the Board of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA). She is also a member of the Feminist Review Collective and a founding member of Act Together: Women's Action for Iraq (

Haytham Bahoora
Haytham Bahoora

Haytham Bahoora received a BA in English Language and Literature from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and an MA and PhD in Comparative Literature from New York University. Before joining the Department of Asian Languages and Civilizations at CU-Boulder, he was a postdoctoral fellow at the research program "Europe in the Middle East: The Middle East in Europe" at the Institute for Advanced Study in Berlin. His research interests include modern Arabic literature and culture, aesthetic modernisms, architecture and urban studies, postcolonial studies, questions of political modernity, and the relationship between material and discursive culture. He is currently working on a book manuscript titled Politics and Aesthetics in Arabic Literature: Modernism and Nation Building in 20th Century Iraq which links the production of aesthetic modernisms in Iraq to a particular moment of uneven social and economic development in 1950s urban Baghdad.

Orit Bashkin
Orit Bashkin

Orit Bashkin is an Associate Professor of Modern Middle Eastern History at the University of Chicago. She earned her Ph.D. from Princeton University (2004) and her BA (1995) and MA (1999) from Tel Aviv University. Her publications include 20 book chapters and articles on the history of Arab-Jews in Iraq, on Iraqi history and on Arabic literature. She has also edited a book Sculpturing Culture in Egypt with Israel Gershoni and Liat Kozma, which included translations into Hebrew of seminal works by Egyptian intellectuals. She is the author of the following books: The Other Iraq – Pluralism, Intellectuals and Culture in Hashemite Iraq, 1921-1958, Stanford University Press, 2009 [Paperback, 2010], New Babylonians: A History of Jews in Modern Iraq [Stanford University Press, 2012].

Toby Dodge
Toby Dodge

Toby Dodge completed his PhD on the transformation of international system after WWI and the creation of the Iraqi state at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. He taught International Relations and Middle Eastern politics in the School of Politics and International Relations, Queen Mary, University of London for seven years. He joined the Department of International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science in September 2011, where he teaches International Relations and Foreign Policy Analysis. Dr Dodge's research examines the interaction between the international system and the post-colonial state, with Iraq being the major case study. His major publications include Iraq; from war to a new authoritarianism, (2012), Iraq's future; the aftermath of regime change, (2005) and Inventing Iraq: the failure of nation building and a history denied, (2003).

Daniel Heyman
Daniel Heyman

Daniel Heyman is a painter and printmaker. From 2004 to 2009, Heyman made images about the war in Iraq, specifically the abuse and torture of Iraqis at Abu Ghraib. Traveling to Turkey and Istanbul, he met over 50 former Iraqi detainees and drew their portraits surrounding their faces with the words of their own testimony. He used a similar approach when working with survivors of the Blackwater USA attacks at Nisour Square, Baghdad; homeless veterans; and veteran survivors of military sexual assault. Since 2009 he has concentrated on a series of grand scale prints on non-traditional materials (plywood and plaster). A Guggenheim and Pew Fellow, Heyman's work is in collections that include the Getty Research Institute; Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth; Library of Congress; New York Public Library; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Princeton University Museum of Art; Yale University Art Gallery and other fine institutions. A graduate of Dartmouth College (AB) and the University of Pennsylvania (MFA), Heyman teaches at Rhode Island School of Design, Princeton University, University of the Arts, and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. He is represented by Cade Tompkins Projects.

Nicholas Mirzoeff
Nicholas Mirzoeff

Nicholas Mirzoeff is Professor of Media, Culture and Communication at New York University. His work is in the field of visual culture and in recent years it has fallen into four main areas. First, he has worked on the genealogy of visuality, a term created to describe how Napoleonic era generals "visualized" a battlefield that they could not see. His book The Right to Look: A Counterhistory of Visuality was published by Duke University Press (2011). Second, he produces texts and projects that support the development of visual culture as a field of study and a methodology. His third Visual Culture Reader (2012) and a second fully revised edition of An Introduction to Visual Culture (2009) were both published by Routledge. Third, he works on militant research with the global social movements that have arisen since 2011. Finally, he has a new project on the cultures of climate change in conjunction with the not-for-profit Islands First.


Zainab Saleh
Zainab Saleh

Zainab Saleh is Mellon Post-Doc Fellow and Visiting Assistant Professor in Anthropology. She received a Ph.D. in Anthropology from Columbia University. In 2011-2012, Zainab participated in the Center's Faculty Humanities Seminar "Changing Technologies of Power in the Entrepreneurial Age" while she revised her dissertation, entitled "Diminishing Returns: An Anthropological Study of Iraqis in the UK," for publication. While at Haverford she has offered the following courses: Advanced Topics in Ethnographic Studies: National Imaginaries of the Middle East," "Women's Narratives in the Arab Middle East," and "Gender and Sexuality in the Middle East." Her Spring 2013 course is "Memory, History, Anthropology."