Public Panel, "Perspectives from the Middle East: Iraq and the Levant"

Event date: 
Wednesday, April 5, 2017 - 3:15pm - 5:00pm

Sponsored by The Department of AnthropologyThe Humanities CouncilThe Department of HistoryThe Department of Cultural, Gender, and Global Studies, The Department of Government and Justice Studies, and The Center for Judaic, Holocaust, and Peace Studies

"Perspectives from the Middle East: Iraq and the Levant"
A Panel Discussion

Wednesday, April 5, 2017
Belk Library, Room 114

Two scholars that specialize on the Arab Middle East, will present their research on Arab experiences from Iraq, Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon in the context of contemporary questions on immigration, the war on terror, U.S. foreign policy, political economies of regime survival across the Levant, and the Arab uprisings of 2011.  

Superfluous Nostalgics: Longing for an Idealized Past among Iraqis in London

Dr. Zainab Saleh
Department of Anthropology
Haverford College

Based on fieldwork with the Iraqi community in London between 2006-2016, this talk examines nostalgic subjectivity in the context of exile, ruins, and disenchantment with the present. I focus on the nostalgic longing of the London-based Iraqi exiles, in particular communists, who find themselves stranded in the present. This subjectivity is acutely haunted by memories of revolution and disillusioned by the political catastrophes of the present. My interest is to examine the haunting political past that defines the lives and memories of Iraqi communists, and to capture the loss of the hope to return, the loss of homeland, and the loss of dreams. This paper revolves around social imaginaries of revolutionary pasts, in particular the anti-colonial struggle against the British and the monarchy, and the deep disappointment that followed the rise of Saddam Hussein to power in 1979 and the US occupation of Iraq in 2003. I show that the disappointment with the present and the end of the hope of return has led to a tendency to mythologize the pre-Saddam past in which democracy, secularism, and social justice prevailed. Amid contemporary ruins and losses, an idealized past gains urgency since it provides a refuge from the present and a bleak future. My concern here is how people who lived the anti-colonial struggle remember and imagine the past, and how they inhabit the present amid the destruction of Iraq.

The Levant Six Years into the Arab Uprisings

Dr. Ziad Abu-Rish
Department of History
Ohio University

This presentation assesses the nature of political regimes and sociopolitical movements challenging the status quo in Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. In particular it narrates the reverberations of the Arab uprisings in these three states, their carried trajectories, and the current balance of power between incumbent elites and opposition forces. The presentation will be comparative in nature, with an eye toward addressing the proximate causes of discontent prior to 2011, the challenges faced by opposition movements since, and the political economy of regime survival since. Key in this respect will be the current field of opposition groups and movements as well as the socio-institutional reconfiguration of existing ruling systems since.


 Download a copy of the poster here (302 kb)


Department of Anthropology, Humanities Council, Department of History, Department of Government and Justice Studies, Department of Cultural, Gender, and Global Studies, Center for Judaic, Holocaust, and Peace Studies
Contact name: 
Christina Sornito
Contact email:
Contact telephone: 
(828) 262-6429
Belk Library, Room 114
Free and Open to the Public

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