Middle East and Islamic Studies
College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Ungovernable Life: Mandatory Medicine and Statecraft in Iraq

Thursday, November 16, 2017 3:00 PM to 5:30 PM
Johnson Center, Room B

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Author Omar Dewachi


"Iraq’s healthcare has been on the edge of collapse since the 1990s. Once the leading hub of scientifc and medical training in the Middle East, Iraq’s political and medical infrastructure has been undermined by decades of U.S.-led wars, sanctions and invasions. In this talk, I interrogate the biosocial and ecological dimensions of the unmaking of the biopolitical state in Iraq in light of the historical and present day claims of Iraq’s so-called 'ungovernability.' Drawing on historical and ethnographic research from my book, Ungovernable Life: Mandatory Medicine and Statecraft in Iraq, and ongoing ethnographic research on the ecologies of wounds and wounding across the Middle East, I explore how such 'ungovernability,' become entangled in the everyday experiences of medicine and affliction across Iraq and the war-torn region."

In this talk, led by the author of Ungovernable Life: The Unmaking of Biopolitics in Iraq, Omar Dewachi, walks us through the intracacies of this issue, what motivated his writing of the book, and what he sees in the future for the state of Iraq.


Omar Dewachi

Omar Dewachi is Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Social Medicine and Global Health, and co-Director of the Con ict Medicine Program at the American University of Beirut (AUB). Trained as a physician in Iraq during the 1990s, he received his doctorate in social anthropology from Harvard University in 2008. Dewachi has conducted extensive archival and ethnographic research on the human and ecological impacts of decades of Western interventions and violence in Iraq and the broader Middle East. His book with Stanford University Press (2017), Ungovernable Life: Mandatory Medicine and Statecraft in Iraq, is the rst study documenting the untold story of the rise and fall of state medicine in Iraq. He is currently conducting ethnographic research on the ecologies of wounds and wounding that explores the biosocial life of war wounds across the Middle East. He is the author of numerous publications that have appeared in a number of medical, anthropological, and global health journals, including the Lancet. 

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