Events AY 2012-2013

Campagna-Kerven Lecture: “A New Honeymoon: Turkish-American Relations in the Age of Arab Awakening, NATO Weakening, and the Asian Pivot”

April 24, 2013
by Soli Ozel

Professor Soli Ozel is well known to many readers. He is a faculty member at Kadir Haz University in Istanbul. His April 24, 2013, lecture was lively and insightful, occasionally irreverent and certainly of the moment. The talk is now available at the CKLS website.



The Institute for Iraqi Studies Workshops

April 18-19, 2013
Hosted by Institute for Iraqi Studies and GREEN Project of the European Commission

The Institute for Iraqi Studies annual workshop provides an opportunity for BU faculty with an interest in contemporary Iraq to meet one another to discuss research interests and the possibilities for collaborative research. The workshop has in the past hosted scholars Dr. Shakir Abdulla, Prof. Tahir Albakaa, Prof Kecia Ali, Prof. Roger Owen, Prof. Betty Anderson, and Prof. A. Richard Norton, and many more.


The Syrian Refugee Crisis and Lessons from the Iraqi Refugee Experience
March 29, 2013
Hosted by Institute for Iraqi Studies

“An Overview of the Syrian Refugee Crisis,” presented the stark numbers and realities of the current crisis in that nation torn apart by over two years of civil war. The workshop and presentation was introduced by IIS Director and Professor of International Relations, A. Richard Norton. For more information visit:

“Middle East Feast”

March 4, 2013
Hosted by The Department of Modern Languages and Comparative Literature

Read about last year’s feast here!




Iraq + 10 Film Series (Spring)


Iraq +10Sons of Babylon
April 3, 2013
Directed by: Mohamed Al Daradji

A willful young boy follows his just as obstinate grandmother in a journey across Iraq, determined to discover the fate of her missing son, Ahmed’s father, who never returned from war.



The List
March 28, 2013
Directed by: Beth Murphy

THE LIST tells the story of Kirk Johnson, a modern-day Oskar Schindler who is fighting to save Iraqis whose lives are in danger because they worked for the U.S. government and military to help rebuild Iraq. After leading reconstruction teams in Baghdad and Fallujah for the United States, Kirk discovers that many of his Iraqi friends and colleagues are being targeted as “collaborators with the enemy.” Perceived as traitors, their fates are sealed, and they are systematically hunted—killed, kidnapped, and forced into lives on the run. Frustrated by a stagnating government bureaucracy in the U.S. that fails to protect U.S.-affiliated Iraqis, Kirk begins compiling a list of their names and works with a team of lawyers to get them out of harm’s way. Bound by a sense of moral responsibility and honor, Kirk sets out to redeem a nation that has largely betrayed its Iraqi allies.


The Dreams of Sparrows
February 27, 2013
Directed by: Haydar Daffar

The Dreams of Sparrows follows first time Iraqi director Hayder Mousa Daffar and his team of contributing directors as they share their vision of life in Baghdad, post war and pre reconstruction. It is his attempt to reconcile the conflicting points of view among Iraqis regarding the war, Saddam Hussein and the occupation; the process of which ultimately changes him and his crew irrevocably. The Dreams of Sparrows is dedicated to Saad Fahker, Associate Producer who died during the production.

The Crisis in Syria: A Discussion

February 20, 2013
by Alia Turki Al-Rabeo

Alia Turki Al-Rabeo offers a firsthand account of the crisis in Syria, which has cost more than 60,000 lives in the last two years and has displaced as many as 1,500,000 people internally, according to the Syrian Red Crescent Society. Syria, a country where foreign journalists are generally not allowed, is currently one of the most dangerous places in the world for reporters of news.


Public Lecture: “Muslim Nationalism and the New Turks.”

January 30, 2013
by Jenny White

Jenny White shows how Turkey’s Muslim elites have mounted a powerful political and economic challenge to the country’s secularists, developing an alternative definition of the nation based on a nostalgic revival of Turkey’s Ottoman past. These Muslim nationalists have pushed aside the Republican ideal of a nation defined by purity of blood, language, and culture. They see no contradiction in pious Muslims running a secular state, and increasingly express their Muslim identity through participation in economic networks and a lifestyle of Islamic fashion and leisure. For many younger Turks, religious and national identities, like commodities, have become objects of choice and forms of personal expression.

Iraq + 10 Film Series

Iraq +10

The Night Baghdad Fell
October 24, 2012
Directed by Mohamed Amin, 2005

Mohamed Amin’s farce The Night Baghdad Fell stars Hassan Hosni as Shakar, an Egyptian schoolteacher who, after seeing American military actions in the Middle East, becomes obsessed with the fear that the United States government will invade his homeland. In response to his fear, Shakar locates one of his former prize science students, Tarek (Ahmed Eid). Tarek has become a heavy drug user, but Shakar sets the young man up with equipment in order to help develop weapons to protect the country. Shakar also arranges a marriage between his daughter and Tarek. As the United States begins to send threatening messages toward Egypt, the men suddenly become unable to perform sexually. Soon Tarek’s bride figures out an unusual way to solve that particular problem.

Forget Baghdad
November 7, 2012
Directed by Samir, 2002

The conflict between Arabs and Jews in the Middle East has been a long and ongoing struggle, which, in many respects, is intensified by the fact the two sides are quite close in terms of both geography and heritage. Filmmaker Samir Naqqash has chosen an especially potent example of this paradox in this documentary — the lives of four Iraqi Jews who were members of the Communist Party. Forced to leave Baghdad in the 1950s, they became refugees in Tel Aviv, but while their religious beliefs made them outcasts in Iraq, their ethnic heritage and political views made it difficult for them to find acceptance in Israel. While all four men have grown to love their adopted home — and three are writers who work in the Hebrew language — they have also been forced to accept the struggles which are part of living in two cultures often at odds with one another. Forget Baghdad: Jews and Arabs – The Iraqi Connection also explores the cultural stereotypes of both Arabs and Jews and how they have been portrayed in the arts and the media, including an interview with Ella Habiba Shohat, an Arab Jew now living in New York who has written an acclaimed, but controversial, book on the Israeli cinema.

Turtles Can Fly
November 28, 2012
Directed by Bahman Ghodabi, 2004

Turtles Can Fly takes place in the days leading up to America’s second war against Iraq, in a small village and refugee camp on the border of Iraq and Turkey. Soran Ebrahim stars as Satellite, a boy nicknamed for his obsession with technology. Satellite is also obsessed with the United States, and sprinkles bits of English throughout his speech. His strong personality and his resourcefulness have made him a leader among the younger children in the village. He even convinces the village elders to trade in their radios and purchase a satellite dish so they can watch news broadcasts on the upcoming war. Tension mounts as the village waits to hear when the U.S. will invade. For his part, Satellite finds himself smitten with an orphan girl, Agrin (Avaz Latif), who wanders into the refugee camp with her armless older brother, Henkov (Hirsh Feyssal), and a little boy who is nearly blind. Henkov earns a meager living clearing minefields, like Satellite, so Satellite sees him, at first, as a rival. But his earnest desire to help Agrin eventually extends to her family. Satellite and his friends find moments of joy amid the chaos and destruction, but Agrin seems haunted by past events too painful to reconcile, and her brother Henkov derives no pleasure from his seeming ability to predict the future.

“The Influence of the Internet”

October 9, 2012
by Kübra Gümüsay

Kübra Gümüsay is an active member of the Muslim blogosphere and one of the few Muslim members of the German netpolitics community. Her talk will focus on the changes the Internet has brought to social life in Germany, especially in context of multiculturalism, diaspora communities, and minorities, with a specific focus on the Muslim diaspora. Feeling misrepresented in mainstream media, minorities of comparatively weak lobbies, such as Turks, Arabs, Blacks, Muslims and Roma, are increasingly using the Internet to create a space for alternative media. As they speak up, comment on politics, get involved in debates and push their agendas, they ultimately influence mainstream media. Gümüsay will highlight the groups’ struggles, portray this process and evaluate its outcome on the German Muslim identity and on society, and in the process try to provide some answers to these questions: Has the Internet brought us closer together? Or are we now – more than ever – living in parallel worlds?

“Like a Straw Bird it Follows Me”

October 3, 2012
by Ghassan Zaqtan and Fady Joudah

In this inspired translation of Like a Straw Bird It Follows Me, Ghassan Zaqtan’s tenth and most recent poetry collection, along with selected earlier poems, Fady Joudah brings to English-language readers the best work by one of the most important and original Palestinian poets of our time. With these poems Zaqtan enters new terrain, illuminating the vision of what Arabic poetry in general and Palestinian poetry in particular are capable of. Departing from the lush aesthetics of such celebrated predecessors as Mahmoud Darwish and Adonis, Zaqtan’s daily, delicate narrative, whirling catalogues, and at times austere aesthetics represent a new trajectory, a significant leap for young Arabic poets today.


“Muslim Devotional Art in India”

September 28, 2012
by Yousuf Saeed

This is an illustrated monograph on the history of Islamic popular devotional art and visual culture in 20th century India, which weaves the personal narrative of the author’s journey through his understanding of the faith with his research about the making of such devotional art and its use by the masses. The book begins with the coming of the earliest images of Mecca/Medina into India and their dissemination by the print industry along with the pictures of local Sufi shrines and saints, and moves on to explore the adaptation of local Indian icons and symbols into Islamic iconography. Besides providing a historical context of the pre-print culture of popular Muslim visuality, the book also explores the impact the 1947 Partition of India may have made on the calendar art in south Asia – much of Indian popular art leaning more towards Hindu nationalism and leaving the Muslim art mostly with apolitical themes, while Pakistani poster art surprising maintaining the syncretism of Sufi saints and folklore. The last section is a short introspection on why such a vibrant visual culture continues to thrive among South Asian Muslims despite the questions raised by the orthodoxy on its legitimacy in Islam, and why images and popular visual cultures are inevitable for popular piety despite the orthodox Muslims’ increasing dissociation from them.