2012 US Fellows

Alda Benjamen, History, University of Maryland, College Park

Contextualizing Assyrians in Iraq's History"

Benjamen’s doctoral thesis will be the first comprehensive study that contextualizes the Assyrians in Iraqi history by analyzing their role in ideological and social movements of the twentieth century. In her study, Assyrians will be contextualized within the broader intellectual and social movements of Iraq, including the Iraqi Communist Party, the Kurdish uprising, and nationalist movements, from the period following World War II up until the 1980s. Benjamen is interested in the role of women in these movements and their portrayal by intellectuals. Her project will also analyze the interaction of the state with the Assyrians, and their inclusion and/or exclusion during this period. For her study, Benjamen will draw on a variety of sources, including those located at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, Library of Congress, National Archives at College Park, Public Record Office in the United Kingdom, and the Modern Assyrian Research Archive (MARA) at the University of Cambridge. In addition, Benjamen will conduct oral history interviews with activists in Assyrian organizations and political parties operating in the second half of the twentieth century, along with singers, producers, and musicians in the West.

 Hilary Falb, History, University of California, Berkeley

Educators in Iraq, Jordan, and Palestine: The Formation of State and Subject, 1917–1958"

Falb’s dissertation offers a new account of education and political culture by examining school teachers and administrators employed by the British Mandates for Iraq, Palestine, and Transjordan throughout the seminal period of state creation in the Middle East, 1917–1958. Using oral histories, social history, and discursive analysis, Falb will analyze the politics and pedagogical techniques of these educators across imperial and national boundaries. British policies were remarkably similar with regards to education in all three Mandates. Yet, the outcome of schooling in each Mandate and later nation varied widely due in large part to the educators who implemented, undermined, or adapted British educational policies and syllabi. Falb will use her TAARII fellowship to fund research for the portion of her study relating to Iraq. She will spend two months in London, dividing her time between interviews with Iraqis and ongoing archival work at the British Library and the National Archives. By analyzing education in Iraq in the context of the British Mandates, Falb’s dissertation will highlight the importance of individual educators to the consequences of schooling throughout the region. These educators provide a unique perspective into how identity and affiliation become resonant in a colonial framework.

 Amy Gansell, Art History, Emory University

Dressing the Neo-Assyrian Queen in Identity and Ideology"

In 1988 and 1989, Iraqi archaeologists discovered four royal tombs beneath the Northwest Palace at Nimrud. They contained Neo-Assyrian burials dating to the ninth and eighth centuries B.C. Inscriptions identified some of the dead as the mothers and wives of kings. Gansell’s project focuses on the hundreds of luxury items related to dress that were found in their sarcophagi. Based primarily on the published archaeological evidence, and supplemented by visual and textual records, her project will reconstruct royal female assemblages of dress through technical illustrations. These models, then, will provide a basis for interpretations of the women’s identities and the ideological messages conveyed through their dress, in life and death, at Nimrud.

 Karen Wilson, Oriental Institute, University of Chicago

“Inanna Temple Publication Project"

Wilson, in cooperation with a team of scholars, will prepare a final report on the excavation of the Inanna Temple at Nippur. The site of Nippur is located on the southern Mesopotamian floodplain 180 km south of Baghdad. From 1951–1962, the University of Chicago excavated the temple of the main Mesopotamian goddess, Inanna, at Nippur. These excavations yielded the longest continuous archaeological sequence currently available for Mesopotamia, with more than twenty building levels spanning the time from roughly 3500 B.C. to the second century A.D. This material includes architecture, sculpture, relief, cylinder seals, and vessels of ceramic and stone that will enable scholars to make badly needed refinements to the chronology of early Mesopotamia and will shed new light on many aspects of life and culture in ancient Iraq.


These fellowships are funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs through a sub-grant from the Council of American Overseas Research Centers.