Iraqi Refugee Project

gcdf_051914_spu020 Khawla Marwa by Garland Cary
The Iraqi Voices Project with Khawla Hadi  and Marwa al-Mtowaq is written up in a Response Overview  and in Voicing a Revolution.

"Because the journey of a researcher is never a straight path, any analysis of performed  politics  is also a map of one's  own personal biography and political interests. Writing about gender, media, and innovative  forms of political voicing--what I call the "forgotten spring"--reflects my experience at several sites. But for me, the forgotten, "forgotten spring" happened in  Kurdistan, over twenty years ago. Living in Iraq in 1993, I discovered that the Kurds had been largely forgotten by Western politics and media. The articles in The New York Times,  for instance, mostly focused on the Turkish war against its  Kurds from 1993 to 1995. There were no headlines about the young democracy formed within  Iraqi Kurdistan." . . During this year, I worked with guerrilla fighters--labelled at different times as "terrorists" or "freedom fighters"--who used story  and song to  transition from alienation to expression. At this  time, I also volunteered with  a Swiss relief agency, delivering bags of foods to widows, listening to their stories unfold amidst the rubble of their houses destroyed by Saddam's tanks. . . I recorded their songs of lament and protest that emanated from  radios, televisions,  and ceremonies"  (Segall, Performing Democracy,  xi).

 

Khawla-and-Marwa-and-I

photo by Garland Clay

The Iraqi Refugee Reconciliation Workshop and Performance Forum are described in Chapter 2 of Performing Democracy.

"It was not enough to research the flood of refugees out of Iraq, I wanted to inform others about the crisis. The project was not only a testimonial play created through a workshop, but it also began earlier through interviews and contacts with directors of trauma centers. As over two million people fled  from Iraq across Middle Eastern borders, largely to Syria, some in Jordan, the United States, after a period of extremely limited admissions, finally admitted more Iraqi refugees. Further displacement has erupted as the political movement of Arab Spring has emptied Syria of its refugees" (Segall, Performing Democracy, 34).

"Children in Iraq have no childhood," Marwa al-Mtowaq.

Iraqis are like "paper boats" as "fold after fold the sea takes our dreams."

poem by Munthir Abdul-Hur (Performing  Democracy, 48).