Iraq Twenty Years after the US Invasion: Memory Politics, Governance and Protests


29.03.2023 - 31.03.2023

Conference  Iraq Twenty Years after the US Invasion Picture 4

  • The US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003 came after decades of Baath dictatorship, several wars, and the humanitarian toll of the most extensive sanctions regime since World War II. It coalesced into a hybrid political system with sectarian undertones, civil war, and the rise and then fall of the Islamic State. This bleak picture poses challenges to the politics of memory, toreconstruction, and to reconciliation, but it also simultaneously overlooks the creative approaches of Iraqi society to reimagining itself, building a public sphere, and claiming public spaces. The aftermath of 2003 opened up new spaces for civil society and cultural expression, firmer constitutional roots for Kurdish autonomy, and a revaluation of sectarian divides – as well as of social and gender roles too. 

    Against this backdrop, the conference sheds new light on the main factors shaping Iraqi politics and society since the US invasion of 2003. It takes stock of the scholarship on Iraq’s modern history, post-2003 transformations, and current developments, with a special focus on questions of governance, institutions, protest movements, and the politics of memory.

    Given the formative and long-lasting influence of Saddam Hussein’s authoritarian rule, the conference lays particular emphasis on historiographic research with Iraqi sources, such as newly available archival evidence and their use in recent scholarship, ego documents, and oral histories – as well as literary sources as an alternative form of historical archive. We also focus on emerging cultures of remembrance in contemporary Iraq as well as on Iraqi diasporic communities, including by taking comparative regional perspectives: To what degree does Iraq form part of a wider regional trend of renegotiating narratives of national belonging, both on the level of state-sponsored discourses and on that of civil society activism too? The temporal focus is on the Baathist period as well as on the broader context of Iraqi history in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, including the question of path dependencies after 2003. 



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