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Questioning Social Inequality and Difference in the Arab Region
Selected Presentations from ACSS Conference
Sandy Tolan on Music under Occupation
Interviewed by Malihe Razazan


Life in the Qandil Mountains of Iraqi Kurdistan

[A view into the Qandil mountains, Iraqi Kurdistan. Photo by Linda Dorigo.]

Photos and text by Linda Dorigo. The window is open and only the mice racing on the first floor interrupt the whistling of the cicadas. It's hot. Wiria and his daughter Par-Wa nap in the living room, under the air conditioning stream. The family lives in Wasan, a village in the mountains of Qandil, in Iraqi Kurdistan on the border with Iran. It's hard for visitors to get here because Wasan, like other villages in the area, is in a valley surrounded by high mountains. The PKK (the Kurdistan Workers Party) has been deployed here for about 15 years while they continue their fight in Turkey for greater rights and self-determination for Kurds. From this vantage point the ...

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صيف العراق الساخن: الأمل، الثورة والإصلاح

[ .جانب من المظاهرات التي شهدها العراق مؤخرا. لافتة كتب عليها

في رسائلنا المتبادلة حول التظاهرات التي انطلقت في مدن العراق منذ ما يقارب الشهرين، كتب لي الروائيّ "سنان أنطون": عندي أمل ولأول مرّة منذ سنين! لم يكن الأمل الذي يعتمل في صدر سنان، يخصه وحده فقط، بل هو أمل أعداد مليونيّة من العراقيّين الذين وقفوا طويلاً على أعتاب اليأس وإنعدام الأمل واللاجدوى. الأمل بإمكانية إحداث تغيير في مآلات حياتهم، وبقدرة ملايين الشباب المتعطش للحياة وللحرية، على قلب موازين القوى ومواجهة أبشع أنظمة الحكم في العراق وأكثرها فساداً. فكلّ آمال التخلص من طغيان القمع الدكتاتوريّ البعثيّ، والعيش بحريّة وكرامة وعدالة، تلاشت وتركت مكانها للذعر والإرهاب والمفخخات والإحباط والفقر والبطالة والهواجس القلقة حول ما يخبئه المستقبل المجهول والعيش وسط جحيم ...

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Ghaib Tu`ma Farman: The Old Man's Word

[Ghaib Tuma Farman. Image from unknown source]

The Old Man’s Word Ghaib Tu`ma Farman Translated by Khaled Al-Hilli [As a pioneer of contemporary Iraqi fiction, Ghaib Tu`ma Farman (1927-1990) may have been too geographically removed from the literary center to enjoy the critical acclaim offered to authors of his stature. Born in Baghdad 1927, he came of literary age in the 1950’s with the publication of his first short story collection in 1954 and formed friendships with other literary figures of his time such as Fuad al-Takarli and Abd al-Wahhab al-Bayyati. He studied Arabic literature in Cairo and worked for several newspapers and publishing houses in Iraq and Egypt. After a number of perilous encounters with ...

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Metrography: An Independent Iraqi Photo Agency

[Two girls run through a field on Cizre Mountain during the celebration for Newroz, the Kurdish New Year. 18 March 2015. Photo by Furkan Temir/Metrography]

What images come to mind when foreigners think of Iraq? Perhaps a blurry shot of soldiers dodging gunfire. A young girl displaced by ISIS staring sadly into the lens. Women who wear black abayas. These are the kind of images taken mostly by foreigners, especially American and European photo agencies and media companies. However, since 2009 Metrography, an independent photo agency in Iraq, has been training Iraqi photographers to tell their country’s stories at a level of internationally competitive professional standards. In Iraq there is little visual education for photographers, few exhibitions, few workshops, and not much independent media production. Metrography was ...

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New Texts Out Now: Ali Issa, Against All Odds: Voices of Popular Struggle in Iraq

[Cover of Ali Issa,

Ali Issa, Against All Odds: Voices of Popular Struggle in Iraq. Washington, DC: Tadween Books, 2015. [Against All Odds: Voices of Popular Struggle in Iraq is co-published with the War Resisters League.]   Jadaliyya (J): What made you write this book?  Ali Issa (AI): I wrote this book to remedy the glaring lack of awareness of progressive political work and dreams on the ground in Iraq now. This desire came about after I got the chance to be an interpreter for an Iraqi labor delegation that came to New York City in 2009 and only grew in 2011 when social media coverage of the Iraqi protest movement seemed so disconnected from popular and scholarly ...

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خطوط مرسومة على خريطة فارغة: حدود العراق وأسطورة الدولة المصطنعة الجزء الأول

[خريطة لورنس ، 1918.

 قد لا تكون هناك دولة ـ أمة حديثة دُعيت "مصطنعة" أكثر من العراق. وبينما يُقرّ معظم الباحثين بأن جميع الدول ـ الأمم مصطنعة، بمعنى أنّ بشراً أنشأوها، فإن العراق، على ما يبدو، مصطنع أكثر منها كلها. وتبدأ القصة دوماً بمعاهدات السلام التي وُقِّعتْ في أعقاب الحرب العالمية الأولى، والتي وضع أثناءها الأوربيون حدود العراق، وحدود دول عربية مشرقية أخرى، على نحو مزعوم، وتقريباً دون أي أساس. وكما يقول ديفد فرومكين في كتابه المقروء على نطاق واسع "سلام ينهي كل سلام": كانت حقبة اختُرعتْ فيها بلدان الشرق الأوسط وحدودها في أوربا. فالعراق، وما ندعوه الأردن الآن، مثلاً، كانا اختراعين بريطانيين، خطوطاً رسمها سياسيون بريطانيون على خريطة فارغة بعد الحرب العالمية ...

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New Book! Against All Odds: Voices of Popular Struggle In Iraq

Against All Odds: Voices of Popular Struggle In Iraq By Ali Issa E-book: $8.99 Paperback: $11.99   Description Collected from dozens of interviews with, and reports from, Iraqi feminists, labor organizers, environmentalists, and protest movement leaders, Against All Oddspresents the unique voices of progressive Iraqis organizing on the ground. Dating back to 2003, with an emphasis on the 2011 upsurge in mobilization and hope as well as the subsequent embattled years, these voices belong to Iraqis asserting themselves as agents against multiple local, regional, and global forces of oppression. As Vijay Prashad notes in the foreword: "Other ...

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Introducing Fikra Space: Where Iraqi Youth Can Take Fate into Their Own Hands

It is an unusually hot day in February in Baghdad, even for a city where February is usually hot. But everything else is business as usual. Traffic jams. Car horns. Street vendors. Security situation. Chaos. Except for maybe one thing. In downtown Baghdad, Ahmed Ramz, a twenty-two-year-old electronics engineering graduate, is holding an event on microcontrollers. “Microcontrollers are very simple yet very powerful instruments” Ramz starts the event. “They can be built to control any electronic system. They are the future of DIY. And DIY is the future”. Ramz is part of a makerspace called Fikra Space. “Fikra” is the Arabic word for idea, and Fikra Space gathers young ...

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'Lines Drawn on an Empty Map': Iraq’s Borders and the Legend of the Artificial State (Part 1)

[Lawrence Map, 1918. “Lawrence of Arabia, The Life, The Legend,” Imperial War Museum, London, 2005/UK National Archives. From the BBC.]

It may be that no modern nation-state has been called “artificial” more times than Iraq. While most scholars are quick to admit that all nation-states are artificial, in the sense that they are created by humans, Iraq, it would seem, is more artificial than most. The story invariably begins with the post-World War I peace settlements, during which the borders of Iraq, along with those of the other Arab Mashriq states, were purportedly created, more or less out of thin air, by Europeans. As David Fromkin writes, in his widely read A Peace to End All Peace: It was an era in which Middle Eastern countries and frontiers were fabricated in Europe. Iraq and what we now ...

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ISIS in the News: Extensive Media Roundup (March-April 2015)

[Editorial Note: This is not a "Best of," only a roundup of significant pieces. See here for an introduction to this roundup series]  English Articles        ISIS Threatens Twitter Founder And Employees Over Blocked Accounts (1 March 2015) David Mack reports that ISIS supporters called on jihadis around the world "to kill Twitter employees because of the company’s frequent blocking of their social media accounts." ISIS releases several captured Christians: activists (1 March 2015) "The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) released at least 19 Christians on Sunday who were among the more than ...

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العراق.. لا عزاء للصناعات المحلية

[صورة للفنانة الأردنية دينا حداديين]

وقفت أم عبّاس قدّام الكاميرا وهي تَعتمرُ خوذة عسكريّة، وقالت بتحدٍّ "من منكم يحمل سلاحاً فليوجه إطلاقاته إلى رأسي.. أنا من صنع هذهِ الخوذة وأُراهن عليها بحياتي"، وتساءلت "لماذا تبقى صناعاتنا مكدَّسة في المخازن فيما الدّولة تستورد مثيلاتها التي لا ترق إلى جودتها بملايين الدولارات؟"  لا تجد السيّدة التي تعمل في مصنعٍ تابعٍ لوزارةِ الصّناعة العراقيّة، والتي لم تتسلّم مرتّبها منذ أكثر من ثلاثة أشهر، إجابة من الحكومة العراقيّة التي أغرقت البلاد بالسلع المستوردة، من دون أي مُراعاة للحفاظ على الصناعات المحليّة وتطويرها. السؤال ذاته يطرحه عمال شركات النسيج الذين يقولون إن الدولة تستورد من الصين وإيران عشرات آلاف "البطانيات" (الأغطية) منخفضة ...

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Event--ISIS: Origins and Illusions (14 April, Princeton University)

Princeton Middle East Society invites you to a panel discussion: ISIS: Origins and Illusions Tuesday, April 14, 2015, 4:30 p.m. Computer Science Building (Room 104) Princeton University, Princeton, NJ Co-sponsored by The Mamdouha S. Bobst center for Peace and Justice Distinguished Panelists Chris Hedges: Pultzer Prize winning journalist, former Middle East Beureau Chief for The New York Times  Eric Davis: Professor of Political Science and past director of the Middle East Studies Program at Rutgers University Bassam S. Haddad: Director of the Middle East Studies Program at George Mason University, and  co-founder of Jadaliyya E-zine ...

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كابوس دمشـق وســماواتها: يوميات سورية

العودة إلى الشام 14  آب/أغسطس 2011  وقفتُ في الدور قلقاً بعض الشيء. لطالما أثار فيَّ مطارُ دمشق، أنا الكردي العراقي بجنسيتين عراقية وأخرى أمريكية مع اسم عليّ أن أردده أكثر من مرة قبل ترجمته، خليطاً غريباً من مشاعر التوجس والقلق وصولاً إلى الخوف. تُعتبر المطارات واجهة مصغرة لمدنها وهي بمثابة بوابتها التي تمنحك نكهة روح المدينة. مثّلَ مطارُ دمشق بالنسبة لي بالوجوه العابسة لضباطه وشرطته غرفة تحقيق هائلة وظيفتها بث القلق والخضوع  استعداداً للدخول الى فضاء المدينة العام.    وقفتُ ...

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September/15 Culture

Following a summer hiatus our monthly culture bouquet is back. On display this month:  * Khaled Al-Hilli translates a short story by the Ghaib Tu`ma Farman. * Taline Voskeritchian writes about an orphan photograph. * Anni Weaver translates a short story by Ghassan Kanafani. * Sharif Elmusa offers a poem about Alyan al-Kurdi's death. * Kevin Blankinship translates a poem by al-Ma`arri. Interested in contributing to Jadaliyya Culture? Have questions or comments? Email the editors: ...

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Turkey's Night of the Firebombs

Across Turkey, coordinated attacks took place on 8 September against offices of the HDP—the People's Democratic Party. The HDP is not, strictly speaking, a Kurdish party—although that is how it is often described in the media. It was formed in 2012 when a group of left-leaning political organizations—all with firm pro-Kurdish views—decided to form an electoral coalition. The similarity with Greece's Syriza would not be unkind. The HDP holds fairly conventional leftist positions—against ...

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Three Theses on ISIS: The Universal, the Millenarian, and the Philistine

The ruthless brutality of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS or ISIL) unfolds before our eyes on the screens. As commentators struggle to explain and understand it, it becomes convenient to revive old Orientalist tropes. Beyond the spectacular brutality, the reason that ISIS invites attention (both fascination and fear) is that it seems easy to fit in confrontational narratives of Islam (us v. them, anti-American, etc.). Muslims are clearly angry at something. In his infamous article “The ...

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خطوط مرسومة على خريطة فارغة: حدود العراق وأسطورة الدولة المصطنعة الجزء الثاني

[هذا المقال هو الثاني من سلسلة جزئين حول صنع الحدود العراقية. اضغط/ي هنا لقراءة الجزء الأول بالعربية ]   لا تهدف دراستي لكيف قام الفاعلون المحليون بصياغة تشكّل العراق كدولة ـ أمة بعد الحرب العالمية الأولى إلى إنكار سلطة القوات الإمبراطورية البريطانية، أو العنف الذي سلّطتْهُ على العراقيين أثناء  فترات الاحتلال (1914- 1920) والانتداب (1920-1932)، بل على العكس، أقول إن إحدى نتائج سرد الدولة المصطنعة هو طَمْس العنف الإمبراطوري البريطاني وفي الوقت نفسه إنكار تأثير الأفعال غير ...

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الوقوف على تخوم أرض السواد

في واحدة من مقولاته الأثيرة كتَبَ دريدا أن ”كل القراءات تصاحيف“. ولكن التصْحيف في سياق هذه المقولة يحمل معنى إيجابياً، ويشير إلى لانهائية المعاني، وإلى فرادة وخصوصية كل قراءة، لأنها نتاج تفاعل القارئ مع النص في لحظة وسياق معينين. وتتجسّد هذه المقولات (التي قد تبدو تجريدية ونظريّة لأول وهلة) بالفعل عندما نعود إلى قراءة نص كنّا قد قرأناه فيما مضى لنجد أن قراءتنا تختلف، وأن النص والقارئ قد تغيّرا، قليلاً أو كثيراً، وأن فعل القراءة يترك أثراً جديداً ومختلفاً. ينطبق ما سبق بشكل لافت، بل مؤلم، على العودة، ...

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NYC Event -- Against All Odds: A Night Celebrating Iraq (25 June 2015)

Join War Resisters League & Center for Constitutional Rights for an evening of music, art & activism as we jointly launch Against All Odds: Voices of Popular Struggle in Iraq, a new book bringing the unique voices of progressive Iraqi organizing on the ground to NYC!  We are honored to have hip hop artist & performer the Narcycist join us & feature the work of Sundus Abdul Hadi, as we all celebrate Iraqi culture, art & movement building! Date and Time: ...

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'Lines Drawn on an Empty Map': Iraq’s Borders and the Legend of the Artificial State (Part 2)

[This article is the second in a two-part series on the making of Iraq's borders. Click here to read Part 1] In attending to how local actors shaped Iraq’s formation as a nation-state after World War I, the point is not to deny the power of British imperial forces, or the violence they unleashed on Iraqis during the occupation (1914-1920) and Mandate (1920-1932) periods. On the contrary, I would contend that one effect of the artificial state narrative is precisely to efface British imperial ...

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فصل من رواية أسد البصرة

" أغوح لماريو بس هو يفهم علينو ! " " أي غوح لجهنم ! " " أي أغوح لجهنم... " رد " أمل " على عمته هيلا بمزيد من الغضب : " أحسنلي من الغوحة ليسرائيل!"  أسرع إلى غرفته صافقاً الباب وراءه بقوة. تحمحم قليلاً كأنه يريد الدخول إلى المرحاض، وهي العادة التي لا تفارق كبار السن، وتشبه الإشارة التي يجب أن تُعطى للتأكد أن أحداً لا يشغل المرحاض في ذلك الحين. وقف أمام المرآة، وعلى الرغم من أنه لا يزال متوتراً، لكنه بدأ بمزاولة تمرينه المعتاد منذ ثلاثة أيام، على ...

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Declassified 2012 Defense Intelligence Report on Syrian Uprising, Gulf Intervention, and Potential for al-Qa'ida Gains

The declassifed document below was obtained as part of a document trove secured by the right-wing institution, Judicial Watch. It obtained the report through a May 2014 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. The Defense Intelligence Agency authored the report, which dates August 2012. It demonstrates that the Department of Defense was aware that Western powers, Gulf states, and Turkey were fully supporting the opposition. It also notes that if events unraveled, there was the ...

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Dwekh Nawsha: A Christian-Iraqi Militia

[Text by Sinan Antoon, photos by Andy Spyra from November 2014 and March 2015.] The fall of Mosul and other towns on the Nineveh plain in northern Iraq to ISIS this past summer was a monumental tragedy. It forced hundreds of thousands of Iraqis to flee their homes. Iraqi Christians, together with Yazidis and Shi‘a, and even Sunnis who opposed ISIS were priority targets. The number of Christian Mosulites was estimated at sixty thousand back in 2003. It was much higher in previous decades. But ...

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Driven by Storms: An Interview with Sadik Alfraji and Nat Muller

Diluting the melancholic longing for unattainable dreams, which will only ever remain dreams, Sadik Alfraji injects the possibility of hope into his latest exhibition, currently on view at Ayyam Gallery Dubai’s Al Quoz outpost. Curated by Nat Muller, who also edited Alfraji’s first monograph, Driven by Storms (Ali’s Boat) stems from a drawing that the Netherlands-based artist received in 2009 from his nephew Ali. Alfraji drew on the aesthetics of Ali’s boat, symbolising a much-desired escape from the ...

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