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middle east studies

NEWS: Fifteen Years Later— Time to Reframe Perceptions of Iraq

NEWS: Fifteen Years Later— Time to Reframe Perceptions of Iraq

For many U.S. college students, hearing mention of Iraq evokes images of soldiers, oil, refugees, and destruction. In 2003, the United States invaded the country and American soldiers remained there for roughly eight years. Those soldiers and the combat that surrounded them dominated U.S. media coverage, leaving little room for the stories of Iraqi civilians and the hardships they endured during and after the occupation.

Now, 15 years after the invasion, several departments at UC Santa Barbara came together for a symposium to flip the script and reframe U.S. perspectives on Iraq. “[The goal is to] re-orient us towards Iraq in order to overturn these reductive and insufficient representations of human beings,” said organizer Mona Damluji, a professor in the Film and Media Studies Department.

The two-day event, called “Iraq Front and Center” was held earlier this month to create a space for interdisciplinary conversations, bringing together guest speakers from the diverse perspectives of novelist, journalist, filmmaker, and doctor.

Kinan Azmeh and the UCSB Middle East Ensemble play tribute to Ibn ‘Arabi

Kinan Azmeh and the UCSB Middle East Ensemble play tribute to Ibn ‘Arabi

Syrian clarinetist-composer Kinan Azmeh captivated a Santa Barbara audience with a composition about a lover’s resilience in a war-torn Syrian village, which he dedicated to the Islamic philosopher Ibn ‘Arabi.

Azmeh appeared alongside the UCSB Middle East Ensemble for a concert, lecture, and poetry reading to open the Muhyiddin Ibn ‘Arabi Society’s annual conference “This Vast Earth,” hosted by UCSB’s Center for Middle East Studies.

“I was totally inspired by what I read,” Azmeh said, telling the audience how discovering Ibn ‘Arabi’s poetry led him to compose the music. “The piece ended up being a depiction of Ibn ‘Arabi’s journey, of love and fate intersecting.”