About this Project

Three decades of war and external pressure in Iraq have led to the decimation of its university system and its intellectuals. What does it mean to be a scholar at war? Is humanistic inquiry during wartime possible? How has this downfall of Iraq’s domestic university-level intellectual class – professors and university researchers – affected the country’s social, military, and political spheres? These questions form the core of a yearlong analysis of Iraq’s intellectual landscape since the start of the Iran-Iraq War in 1980, carrying the narrative through the sanctions period and 2003 invasion to the present day. The destruction of Iraq’s academic class has been an underreported yet grave phenomenon that holds serious implications for the country’s – and the region’s – future. This project represents an effort to capture this history through first-hand accounts, by interviewing Iraqi university professors and researchers in Iraq and in diaspora, to establish an audio archive of these stories at the University of Chicago Special Collections Research Center, and to publish an analysis on the demise of Iraq’s intellectual class.

News

Twilight for Kurdish academics

March 14, 2014

Professors and students in Iraq's Kurdistan fear political rivalry is unraveling the fabric of their education system.

Matthew Schweitzer (History | 2016)

February 10, 2014

Iraq's Intelligentsia aims to understand the Iraq War’s impact on the nation’s intellectuals and the universities where they taught.

Student chronicles Iraq’s intellectual crisis

January 6, 2014

An interdisciplinary project supported by UChicago’s Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society

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