January 16, 2024

Autobiographical Archives as Politics of Reclamation – Zainab Saleh in dialogue with CRITIQUE-MERG-Social Anthropology | May 23 2024

Lecture abstract:

This talk approaches the concept of autobiographical archives – which could encompass different genres of literary, ethnographic, and personal narratives – as a politics of reclamation among UK-based Iraqi Jews who were stripped of their citizenship in 1950-1951 and the so-called Iraqis of the Iranian origin who were denaturalized in the early 1980s. For these denaturalized Iraqis, documenting their experiences of forced displacement becomes an indispensable mechanism to construct archives of dispossession. Moreover, these autobiographical archives employ a politics of reclamation, which constitutes a refusal of the state’s exclusionary practices and reflects efforts to articulate a hybrid sense of identity. Reclamation entails asserting a right to one’s homeland, and critiquing the state’s reductionist and vilifying discourses. While official archives function to silence Iraqi deportees’ stories and experiences, autobiographical archives serve as counter-narratives written, narrated, and documented by Iraqi themselves, with the aim of reclaiming erased and negated lived realties as part and parcel of the modern history of the Iraqi state.

Zainab Saleh is Associate Professor of Anthropology in Haverford College.

Discussants: Professor Mihaela Mihai, Personal Chair of Political Theory; Dr. Lotte Segal, Senior Lecturer of Anthropology.

Date/ time: Thursday May 23 2024; 13:00-14:30

Location: Violet Laidlaw Room, Chrystal Macmillan Building.