Skip to content Skip to navigation

Iraq "Before": Unpacking the Oil Media Assemblage

Friday, April 20, 2018 - 12:00 pm to 1:30 pm
Reuben Hills Conference Room, Encina Hall East, 2nd Floor

Free and Open to the Public. RSVP required.

This talk examines how new media assemblages work as popular evidence of “Iraq before” — that is, before all the mess of “war and totalitarian rule” when the country was touted globally as a beacon of modernity in the Middle East. These new media assemblages compile  digitized images of old media, such as undated documentary photographs, postcards, illustrations of varying quality and vague or completely unknown origins, that circulate ad infinitum through social media as visible evidence of “Iraq before". Where did this approach to representing Iraq come from? How did this way of looking at Iraqi modernity emerge from the photographic archive? This talk will trace the roots of this new media practice to the image making apparatus of mid-twentieth century petroleum company public relations in the Middle East and consider the implications of seeing Iraq like an oil company. Mona Damluji is Assistant Professor of Film & Media Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara and a Peabody and Emmy Award-nominated producer of the short documentary series Secret Life of Muslims. Her teaching, research and creative works engage underrepresented film and media histories and cultural studies of oil, cities and infrastructure with a focus on the Middle East and its diasporas. Her current book project is a history of how oil companies mediate the modern world. Damluji is co-curator of "Arab Comics: 90 Years of Popular Visual Culture" and "Multitudes: An Art Exhibit after #muslimban". Her publications appear in Journal of Urban HistoryComparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle EastInternational Journal of Islamic ArchitectureSubterranean Estates: the Life Worlds of Oil and GasArs OrientalisMEI Insights and Jadaliyya.

Event Sponsor: 
Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies, The Markaz