Resisting Imperial Memory: Confronting the History of U.S. Aggression in Iraq

March 23, 4pm EDT
Online

Dave Inder Comar

Attorney and Executive Director of Just Atonement Inc.

Kali Rubaii 

Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Purdue University 

Nazli Tarzi

Political Analyst

Ross Caputi

– Moderator –
Co-author of The Sacking of Fallujah: A People’s History

The Anglo-American invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003 was catastrophic for Iraqi society, causing hundreds of thousands of deaths, eliciting sectarian animosities, and leaving the environment toxic and irradiated. However, twenty years later, Iraqi suffering is barely present in American memory of the conflict. Nor has there been a serious debate about the U.S. right to intervene in the affairs of other nations. In commemoration of the twentieth anniversary of the invasion, this event explores the Iraqi experience of the conflict. Panelists will discuss the legality of the invasion and occupation, the forms of hard and soft power exercised by the U.S. in Iraq, and the material consequences for the Iraqi people.

Top Photo: Copyright Haider Husseini


The Presenters

Dave Inder Comar is the executive director of Just Atonement Inc., a legal non-profit that trains new advocates to address threats to human rights, a livable planet, and the international rule of law. He is also the managing partner of Comar Mollé LLP, a corporate technology firm with offices in San Francisco and New York. From 2013 through 2017, Comar litigated a first-of-its-kind lawsuit on behalf of Iraqi civilian victims of the Iraq War, seeking reparations from high-ranking members of the Bush administration who launched the war in alleged violation of the prohibition against international aggression. He holds a law degree from the New York University School of Law, a master of arts degree from Stanford University and bachelor of arts degrees from Stanford University. He is currently a PhD candidate at Leiden University researching the intersection of climate change and the right to self-determination of peoples. 


Kali Rubaii is an assistant professor in the anthropology department at Purdue University and a cofounder of Archive Iraq. Her research explores the environmental impacts of less-than-lethal militarism, and how military projects (re)arrange political ecologies in the name of “letting live.” Her book project, Counter-resurgency, examines how farmers in Anbar, Iraq struggle to survive and recover from transnational counterinsurgency projects.


Nazli Tarzi is a multi-disciplinary, bilingual analyst with 10 years of experience in political risk consultancy and due diligence, working on security and defense issues across multiple jurisdictions. In her broadcast media and academic career, Tarzi focuses on state-society relations, security and violent extremist actors, as well as quotidian life, civil disobedience and water (in)security in the contemporary Middle East. She is a cofounder of Archive Iraq. Her analysis on Iraq is widely published in Al Jazeera, Al-Monitor, Arab Weekly, The New Arab, the Journal of Contemporary Iraq and the Arab World, and her TV credits include BBC Arabic and Netflix. Her methodological approach towards politics combines elements of investigative journalism, political anthropology and open-source intelligence. Outside of politics, Tarzi is a keen archivist, cinephile and amateur filmmaker.


Ross Caputi is a PhD student of history at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. His research focuses on the social and cultural history of southern Italy and the Anglo-American invasion and occupation of Iraq. He is the main author of The Sacking of Fallujah: A People’s History (2019) and a cofounder and head archivist of Archive Iraq.


The Feinberg Series

The 2022-2023 Feinberg Series is exploring histories of U.S. imperialism and anti-imperialist resistance. It is presented by the UMass Amherst Department of History in collaboration with the Ellsberg Initiative for Peace and Democracy and in partnership with more than two dozen co-sponsors. The Feinberg Family Distinguished Lecture Series is made possible thanks to the generosity of UMass Amherst history department alumnus Kenneth R. Feinberg ’67 and associates.