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The National Park: Biodiversity Conservation in Wartime Iraq

A lecture by Bridget Guarasci, Visiting Scholar, Department of Anthropology, UCLA

Wednesday, January 23, 2013
3:00 PM
10383 Bunche Hall

This talk analyzes how environmentalism enacted and concealed the violent hierarchies of war in Iraq. In 2006 and 2007, as Iraqis lived through one of the most deadly periods of the war, Nature Iraq—the NGO devoted to the restoration of the southern Iraqi marshes—and its foreign donors worked to build Iraq’s first ever national park. Whereas Saddam Hussein drained the marshes in 1991 in retaliation for the uprising that threatened to depose him, in 2003 US-backed returning Iraqi exiles sought to restore the area as a national symbol for a new political era. Foreign donors and Iraqi exiles who administered marsh revival lived and worked outside of Iraq and hired Iraqi scientists to conduct needed fieldwork in the marsh. The labor structure privileged the lives of foreign experts and donors at the same time that it ensured that the Iraqis who were hired were those at risk. Based on extensive ethnographic fieldwork from 2006-2007 in Iraq and Jordan, the talk investigates the rise of environmentalism as a form of governmentality in Iraq and an asset in the liberalization of the Iraqi economy.

Bridget Guarasci is a Visiting Scholar in the Department of Anthropology at University of California, Los Angeles. She completed her Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology at the University of Michigan in 2011 and is currently working on a book manuscript Reflooded: Restoring the Marshes in Wartime Iraq based upon more than two years of ethnographic fieldwork on marsh restoration conducted in 2006 and 2007 in Jordan and Iraqi Kurdistan. In addition to her academic work, Guarasci has published for Slate Magazine.

Cost : Free and Open to the Public

(310) 825-1181
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