Students of Philosophy Association, Concordia University

Omar Dewachi – ‘Ungovernable’: Reflections on the Politics of Life and Death in Iraq

Posted by admin | 27 November 2009 | Comments Off

The launch of the lecture series Here and Elsewhere presents:

‘Ungovernable’: Reflections on the Politics of Life and Death in Iraq
Lecture with Omar Dewachi, M.D, Ph.D.
Post-Doctoral Researcher, Université de Montréal, Anthropology Department
Concordia University
Monday, November 30th 2009
18.00 in EV-11-705 (1515 St.Catherine West)

In August 2003 Paul Reynolds, a BBC journalist, published an online commentary titled “Iraq the Ungovernable.” In his piece, he stated that “Foreign powers have always found Iraq ungovernable…and the Americans and a new generation of British occupiers are now discovering the old truth.” ‘Ungovernability’ is becoming the normative discourse on Iraq, not only in western, but also in the Arab media, referencing the (im)possibility of governing the ethnic, religious, tribal and sectarian constitutions of a country, which the British had attempted to ‘amalgamate’ under the mandate in 1920. In this talk Omar Dewachi will attempt to reflect on the converging and diverging discourses emerging around the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and its aftermath, in relation to the notion of the ‘ungovernable’ in and of Iraq. Dewachi will trace these constructions, imaginations and negotiations of the ‘ungovernable’ to the effects of biopolitical interventions and forms of subjectification under different regimes of power—colonial, post-colonial and international.

Dr. Omar Dewachi is a graduate of the Department of Anthropology at Harvard University. He is trained in medicine and public health at the University of Baghdad and the American University of Beirut respectively. His dissertation work explored the role of medicine and politics in Iraq from the British mandate period until the present day in relation to questions of governability, biopolitics, citizenship and empire. He has also worked on HIV/AIDS and male sexuality in Lebanon, as well as the early 20th century history of the anthropology of the Marsh Arabs of Iraq. His current research is on Iraqi refugees in Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon.

Here and Elsewhere takes its name from the Jean-Luc Godard film Ici et ailleurs. Inspired by the film’s attempt to bring forth the complex relations between not only first worlds and third worlds, but revolutions and wars by putting into question the image itself, has sparked the move to take this up through the form of a lecture. The film brings attention to the modes of construction associated with images already known and recognized to be from either here or elsewhere. The attempt here is to call into question the incommensurable distance that is felt when encountering images here that form the elsewhere. The series is a site that will, hopefully, enable different modes of inquiry that this distance or distinction inspire. Not to associate this elsewhere only with far away countries and nations, but to also remember that often this elsewhere is close to home. In light of this, the next lecture will be with Martha Stiegman. She will speak to us about Indigenous issues in Canada, specifically in the context of the Algonquins of Barrier Lake.

For more information (or if you’d like to propose a lecture) please contact Nasrin Himada (


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