Wednesday, 11 May 2016, 19:00 – 21:00
Diplomatic Academy, Favoritenstraße 15a, 1040 Vienna
Iraqi Novelist, Author and Political Activist
Fouad Gehad Marei
Otto Suhr Institute for Political Science at Freie Universität Berlin
Department of Development Studies at the University of Vienna/VIDC
Welcome: Magda Seewald, VIDC
Languages: English and German with simultaneous interpretation
The revolts which started in 2011 in the Arab world gave an idea of democratic alternatives. Although their fundamental pleas for freedom and equality today seem to be calls from a distant past, the revolts did not simply ‘fail’. What that means in the context of Syria and Iraq is the topic of this event.
These days the war in Syria is really an international war, where different regional and global power blocks which want to determine the architecture of the post-war order confront each other. The logic is clear: Politics is a way to continue wars by other means – military ‘powers‘, meaning the authority controlling the biggest possible connected territories, should be politically secured during negotiations.
In Iraq however, the war of the army and other militia groups against the jihadi formation Islamic state (IS) brought the civilian protests of the past years against the government in Baghdad (temporarily) to silence. Together with air strikes organised by the USA led alliance, the Jihadis should be forced out of all of the most important cities in the next few months. Much of the western media obviously does not consider it important enough to report on what this war means for affected civilians, or that many social initiatives are still being run despite the dangers.
Both thirteen years after the start of the US invasion of Iraq and with regards to the current wars in Syria and Iraq, the question remains as to how post-war order can be attained by people within the countries themselves incorporating the main pleas of democratic revolts in 2011. How should the democratic future of Syria and Iraq be shaped? On which economical, social, cultural and ideological basis should the two countries future be built upon? Who could be its main architects?
the Iraqi author and activist has published three novels and four collections of short stories, among them "City of Widows", "Dreaming of Baghdad" and together with Ramsy Clark and Thomas Ehrlich Reifer” The Torturer in the mirror". She is a founding member of International Association of Contemporary Iraqi Studies (IACIS) and a co-founder of Tadhamun - Iraqi Women Solidarity. Haifa Zangana was an advisor for the UNDP report “Towards the rise of women in the Arab world” (2005) and works as a consultant at ESCWA. She is a weekly columnist for Al Quds Al Arabi, contributes to British and US media, and lectures regularly on Iraqi culture and women’s issues. Her current project focuses on encouraging women ex detainees in Palestine and Tunisia to write, themselves and not others, their experiences in prison.
is a Lecturer at the Otto Suhr Institute for Political Science at Freie Universität Berlin since 2013. He is also the recipient of the 2015/2016 Research Grant Award of the Arab Council for the Social Sciences (ACSS) and the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA). Fouad’s broad research agenda focuses on state-society relations, globalization and development, and Islamist religious activism in conflict and post-conflict contexts with a particular interest in Lebanon and Syria. More recently, he undertook in 2015/2016 a fieldwork-based pilot study of/in Syrian refugee settlements in Lebanon. The study assessed the situation of refugee and host communities, identifies priorities and vulnerabilities, and maps some of the local, national and international actors involved in crisis response plan. His most recent publication is “Preaching Development: Shi’I Piety and Neoliberalism in Beirut”. In: “Religious Activism in the Global Economy: Promoting, Reforming or Resisting Neoliberal Globalization?” Sabine Dreher and Peter J. Smith (Eds) (2016).
is a social scientist and researcher at the Department of Development Studies at the University of Vienna as well as a consultant to the VIDC. His main research areas are the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, movements of political Islam in the Arab world, critical state theories and postcolonial theory. One of his most recent publications is “Umkämpfte Staatlichkeit. Palästina zwischen Besatzung, Entwicklung und politischem Islam“ (2015).
has worked as a project manager at the VIDC since 2005. Her regional focus is the Middle East, in particular Palestine, where she also coordinates local projects. In this function she oversees the VIDC series on the Arab uprisings. Her other emphases include “gender”, “gender and armed conflicts” as well as “engaging men and boys for gender justice”. She graduated with a degree in Political Science from the University of Vienna.