Dr. Alda Benjamen "Book Talk: Assyrians in Modern Iraq: Negotiating Political and Cultural Change"
From Sara Farhan
Assyrians in Modern Iraq: Negotiating Political and Cultural Space (Cambridge University Press, February 2022), is a monograph on twentieth-century Iraqi intellectual history based on extensive primary research from within the country. Drawing upon oral and ethnographic sources and archival documents, in Arabic and modern Aramaic, uncovered at the Iraqi National Archives in Baghdad and private collections from the north, it explores the role of minorities in Iraq’s intellectual and mostly leftist opposition. It demonstrates how, within newly politicized urban spaces, minorities became attracted to intellectual and political movements that allowed them to advance their own concerns while engaging with other Iraqis of their socio-economic background and relying on transnational community networks. Assyrian intellectuals not only negotiated but also resisted government policies through their cultural production, thereby achieving a softening of Baʿthist policies towards the Assyrians that differed markedly from those of later repressive eras.