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December 27 , 2009

Writing the Modern History of Iraq

Historiographical and Political Challenges


The modern history of Iraq is punctuated by a series of successive and radical ruptures (coups d'etat, changes of regime, military adventures and foreign invasions) whose chronological markers are relatively easy to identify. Although researchers cannot ignore these ruptures, they should also be encouraged to establish links between the moments when the breaks occur and the longue durée, in order to gain a better understanding of the period.

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Combining a variety of different disciplinary and methodological perspectives, this collection of essays seeks to establish some new markers which will open fresh perspectives on the history of Iraq in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, and suggest a narrative that fits into new paradigms. The book covers the various different periods of the modern state (the British occupation and mandate, the monarchy, the first revolutions and the decades of Ba'thist rule) through the lens of significant groups in Iraq society, including artists, film-makers, political and opposition groups, members of ethnic and religious groups, and tribes.

  • Introduction (Riccardo Bocco and Jordi Tejel)
  • Dealing with the Past: Methodological Issues (Peter Sluglett):
    • Advice from the Past: 'Ali al-Wardi on Literature and Society (Orit Bashkin)
    • Writing the History of Iraq: The Fallacy of “Objective” History (Johan Franzén)
    • The Sectarian Master Narrative in Iraqi Historiography (Reidar Visser)
    • Beyond Political Ruptures: Towards a Historiography of Social Continuity in Iraq (Peter Harling)
  • The Monarchist Era Revisited (Jordi Tejel):
    • What Did It Mean to Be an Iraqi During the Monarchy? (Hala Fattah)
    • From Forty-One to Qadisiyyat Saddam: Remarks on an Iraqi Realm of Memory (Peter Wien)
    • Building the Nation Through the Production of Difference (Sara Pursley)
  • Rethinking the Ba'thist Period (Hamit Bozarslan):
    • Digging the Past: The Historiography of Archeology in Modern Iraq (Magnus T Bernhardsson)
    • Totalitarianism Revisited: Framing the History of Ba'thist Iraq (Achim Rohde)
    • How to “Turn the Page” (Fanny Lafourcade)
  • Dealing with Victimhood: Whose Memories of Mass Violence? Between Oral and Official History:
    • Fragmented Memory, Competing Narratives (Karin Mlodoch)
    • The Concept of Genocide as Part of Knowledge Production in Iraqi Kurdistan (Andrea Fischer-Tahir)
    • The 1991 Intifada in Three Keys: Writing the History of Violence (Dina Rizk Khoury)
    • 'Qadisiyat Saddam': The Gamble That Did Not Pay Off (Chérine Chams El Dine)
  • Shi'i Actors in Post-Saddam Iraq: Partisan Historiography (Peter Sluglett):
    • Partisan and Global Identity in the Historiography of Iraqi Religious Institutions (Robert J Riggs)
    • Najaf and the (Re)Birth of Arab Shi'i Political Thought (Michaelle Browers)
    • Between Action and Symbols (Elvire Corboz)
  • The Politics of Population Movements in Contemporary Iraq: A Research Agenda (Géraldine Chatelard):
    • The Brain Drain in Iraq After the 2003 Invasion (Joseph Sassoon)
    • Cosmopolitanism and Iraqi Migration (Diane Duclos)
  • Representing Iraq History Through the Arts (Hamit Bozarslan):
    • Literary Glimpses of Modern Iraqi History and Society (Sami Zubaida)
    • History and Fiction in the New Iraqi Cinema (Lucia Sorbera)
    • War, Crimes and Video Tapes: Conflicting Memories in Films on Iraq (Nicolas Masson)
    • Poetry in the Service of Nation Building? Political Commitment and Self-Assertion (Leslie Tramontini)
    • Not Just “For Art's Sake”: Exhibiting Iraqi Art in the West After 2003 (Silvia Naef)
  • Appendix: State of the Art on Iraqi Studies: A Bibliographical Survey of English and French Sources (Hamit Bozarslan and Jordi Tejel)

Readership: Professionals, students & scholars interested in historical, social & political issues in Iraq & the Middle East.
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