Iraqi Studies: Past, Present, and Future
28-29 February 2020
This two-day conference brings together a diverse group of established and emerging scholars working on the history of modern Iraq from the Ottoman period to the present to interrogate Iraqi studies; taking stock of its past, reflecting on the present, and looking towards its future. Studies of modern Iraq have grown qualitatively and quantitatively in recent years. There is now a critical mass of innovative scholars in the US, Europe, and the Middle East who work on Iraq and are exploring new lines of inquiry in a number of different directions. It is common to see Iraq-themed panels and round tables at international conferences. Given this volume of scholarly activity connected to modern Iraq, it is an opportune time to critically reflect on and examine Iraqi studies and its status as a burgeoning sub-field of Middle East Studies.
We aim to discuss research trends, to identify promising new questions and sources, to exchange experiences and insights, and to encourage networking across period-specializations and field boundaries. Each panel will comprise a discussant and several speakers. We will also hold a keynote panel of senior scholars who will critically reflect on the state of Iraqi studies. This panel will serve to guide and orient our discussions during the conference. Confirmed speakers for the Keynote Panel: Dr. Dina Khoury (George Washington University); Dr. Orit Bashkin (University of Chicago); Dr. Eric Davis (Rutgers University).
Among the questions we seek to explore are: How do we define Iraqi studies? What various methodological approaches inform our study of Iraq? Is Iraqi studies an inherently nationalist endeavor? How do different frameworks support or break with nationalist conventions? How has Iraq’s recent turbulent history affected how scholars access sources to study the country, its geography, its people, its history, its literature, etc.? How can we move past the sectarian and ethnic narratives of understanding the Iraqi past and present?
We welcome submissions that address any of the above questions. Other sub-themes may also include:
• Iraq, Empires, and Imperialism – including the Ottoman, British, and American imperialisms. We welcome work which considers state-society relations as well as the place of Iraq in inter-imperial and international relations.
• Relationship between Iraqi society and the environment – including urban studies, infrastructure, and natural resource extraction.
• Explorations of Iraqi intellectual and cultural production – including how Iraqi intellectuals and other actors have produced theory which can be not only the subject of a historian’s study, but can serve as a framework to better understand such subjects.
• Studies of ethnic and religious minorities – including and beyond histories of sectarianism and ethnic/sectarian conflict.
• Innovative applications of new methods in gender studies to the context of Iraq and in particular works which suggest how such methodologies can be woven into work across sub-disciplines within the field of Iraqi studies.
• Studies that address conflict, violence and war in Iraq’s history, as well as the production of memory, practices of commemoration, documentation, and archives.
1. If you would like to propose a paper for the conference, please submit a completed application form (including a 300 word abstract) via the Google Form by August 31st.
2. We seek proposals from junior faculty, post-doctoral fellows, graduate students, and emerging scholars.
3. The conference will have a keynote panel of speakers as well as a final roundtable
4. Meals will be provided for participants. We have limited funding to sponsor accommodation and travel expenses of participants, especially for those travelling from the Middle East. However, participants are encouraged to apply for funds from their home institutions, or to find alternative sources of funding where possible.
Please indicate in the Google Form whether you have access to funding when you submit your abstracts.
Zeinab Azarbadegan (Columbia University)
Amnah Almukhtar (Columbia University)
Natasha Pesaran (Columbia University)
Department of History
Center for International History
Center for the Study of Muslim Societies
Ottoman and Turkish Studies Seminar
Department of Art History and Archaeology