Remembering in Post-invasion Kuwait: Topographies, Collaborations, Mediations
A Lecture by Conerly Casey, Rochester Institute of Technology
Monday, April 25, 2011
352 Haines Hall
The 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait led to dramatic changes in the health and mental health of Kuwaitis with significant increases in the prevalence of post-conflict mortality among those who remained in Kuwait during the occupation. Studies of Kuwaiti experiences of the invasion tend to consider it a “primary wounding” with associated traumatic memories and health consequences. However useful, this perspective may also direct our attention away from the moral appraisals that shape the selection, use and interpretation of remembrances of violence, collaborative and relational remembering, the various forms of mediation that situate and inscribe violence, and amplifications of past violence by subsequent events and interactions. These memory processes, as they augment one another in daily life, have an enormous impact on contemporary Kuwaiti health and mental health, and on reforming social, political relations within Kuwait and the region. Based on three years of research in Kuwait with young adult Kuwaitis, this essay explores narrations of memory as they intersect with topographical, collaborative and mediated remembering through bombed and bullet-ridden homes left standing, abandoned tanks, the Liberation Tower and War museum, diwaniya and family discussions, as well as the real/virtual interfaces of the invasion and occupation with contemporary mediated accounts of it and related wars. Remembrances of the Iraqi invasion appear to become increasingly traumatic, for teenagers and young adults, as they are amplified in heightened moral appraisals of identity and betrayal, collaborative and relational remembering with victimized adults and young men more often narrators in diwaniya and family settings, and in narrative and somatic experiences tied to topographical and media referents of violence, particularly in Internet discussions of the legitimacies and affects of the 1990 Iraqi invasion and the 2003 U.S. War in Iraq.
Conerly Casey is Associate Professor of Anthropology in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the Rochester Institute of Technology. She has research interests in the dynamics of psychocultural and global processes, particularly experiences of violence and amplifications of memory and emotion through media and social networking technologies. She co-edited, with Robert B. Edgerton, Companion to Psychological Anthropology: Modernity and Psychocultural Change (2005). Her recent publications trace the changing intersections of violence, media, memory and emotion in the predominately Muslim region of northern Nigeria. They include: Remembering genocide: Hypocrisy and the violence of local/global ‘justice’ in northern Nigeria (Local Justice: Global Mechanisms and Local Meanings in the Aftermath of Genocide, 2010); Mediated hostility: Media, “affective citizenship”, and genocide in northern Nigeria (Genocide, Truth and Representation: Anthropological Approaches, 2009); and “Marginal Muslims”: Politics and the perceptual bounds of Islamic authenticity in northern Nigeria (Africa Today, 2008). Based on three years of teaching and research in Kuwait, Dr. Casey has begun to write about Kuwaiti young adults, child witnesses to the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, and the temporal and spatial relations of memory, subjectivity and environment that shape personal and social relations and health.
Cost: Free and Open to the Public
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Sponsor(s): Co-sponsored by Mind, Medicine, and Culture group, UCLA Anthropology Department