“Immeasurable loss” | UCSB current
As a pediatrician, Ibrahim Shaeer Jabbar Al-Jumaili had dedicated his life to children. On July 22, 2011, the professor of medicine at Kirkuk University in Iraq was assassinated while resisting an attempted kidnapping. He was 55 years old.
Al-Jumaili was one of hundreds of Iraqi academics murdered between 2003 and 2013. And since no one has been charged in these murders, his name was destined to slip into the bloody history of the US invasion and occupation of Iraq.
But thanks to a collaboration founded in the aftermath of a bomb attack that devastated one of Baghdad’s most important cultural institutions, artists and activists are working to ensure that the victims are seen as ” people, teachers, family members who are part of a university, ”said Beau Beausoleil, whose“ Shadow & Light ”project came out of the exhibition.
“Shadow and Light,” a virtual exhibit hosted by UC Santa Barbara Library, commemorates 13 of the murdered educators with photos and texts provided by artists from around the world.
Project Director Beausoleil and UCSB Co-Curators Mona Damluji and Heather Hughes will participate in a conversation about the exhibit. The event, “Immeasurable Loss: Honoring Murdered Iraqi Academics in ‘Shadow and & Light,’ is sponsored by the UCSB Center for Middle East Studies and will be hosted by doctoral student Rachel Winter via Zoom on May 11 from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. h 30 Join the discussion here.
Beausoleil, a poet and activist based in San Francisco, founded the “Shadow and Light” project in 2018, 11 years after creating “Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here”, an artistic initiative and collection designed after a car bomb had taken hold. killed 30 people on Rue Al-Mutanabbi (the booksellers’ street) March 5, 2007.
In the “Shadow and Light” project, people around the world chose the name of a murdered Iraqi academic to commemorate with a photograph and a personal story. To date, 45 people have been commemorated on a list of 324 murdered Iraqi academics. Some estimates put the number of victims at over 700.
“Beau unites people,” said Damluji, associate professor in the Department of Film and Media Studies. “His projects highlight the catastrophic destruction of Iraqi cultural institutions and the lives of Iraqis. Yet he does so in a fundamentally creative way. His projects have created communities and cultivated connections and transformed the profession of artists, poets, bookies, photographers and thinkers around the world who share a commitment to celebrate the best of humanity while recognizing violence. of militarism, occupation and colonialism.
“Shadow and Light” came to the seaside campus because Hughes, a Middle Eastern studies librarian at the UCSB library, was paying attention. In 2019, Beausoleil sent emails about the exhibit to a dozen university librarians. Only Hughes responded.
“I was fortunate that Beau contacted me about this wonderful project,” she said, “and Mona’s enthusiasm for the project was invaluable in gaining the support of the library. Alex Regan, UCSB Events and Exhibitions Librarian, was also very supportive of the presentation of the exhibit at UCSB.
Since the exhibit is online, it establishes an educational resource for college classrooms, Damluji said.
“I hope professors and graduate students will include the exhibition in their courses and look forward to the opportunity to work with others to develop pedagogies to generate interest in the exhibition,” a- she stressed.
And because the exhibit will be available everywhere, Damluji and Hughes hope its message will spread beyond campus.
“Originally I thought how much the United States was involved in the Middle East and Iraq, but how little the impact of this invasion and conflict has been felt by most Americans,” Hughes said. “I was hoping this exhibition could bridge some of that distance for the attendees. By shedding light on the lives and deaths of these Iraqi academics, we might perhaps question the configuration of Iraqis and the Middle East as “insurmountable lives.” I still hope that the UCSB community will be able to engage with this material, but again, as the exhibit is now available beyond Santa Barbara and the United States, I hope the international aspects of this project could inspire more solidarity between people.
Beausoleil, who said the impact of seeing an exhibit like “Shadow and Light” sometimes takes days to register, hopes people watching it see Iraqi academics as their own professors.
“The exhibition is structured in such a way that there is room for a lot of thinking and discussion,” he said. “It’s a quiet show of respect for those lives that have been so easily judged and rejected. The more closely we examine our own lives and history, the more we realize that we have a collective responsibility to reduce the distance between us, a distance that has been created artificially by those in power.
For Damluji, whose research focuses in part on the history of Iraq and its diasporas, co-hosting “Shadow and Light” has been heartbreaking at times, but it has also resonated personally.
“The experience of curating this magnificent exhibit has been haunting,” she said. “It disrupted my sleep. The images and names of murdered Iraqis live with me in the silences of my day. On the one hand, these stories are personal to me because I am Iraqi and I come from a family of academics. And yet, stories are personal to all of us, no matter who we are or where we come from. Just imagine that you are afraid for your life or lose your life because of the work you do to educate, learn, serve your students and your campus. Imagine that.
“It’s deeply personal because our passion as educators,” continued Damluji, “and our dedication to defending the right to education is what unites us on this campus and with other public universities around the world. whole. The exhibit tells stories of devastation not only for Iraqis, but for humanity. “