2015 US Fellows


Jon Caleb Howard, Near Eastern Studies, Johns Hopkins University

“The Mechanics of Scribal Production of Neo-Assyrian Royal Inscriptions"

Previous studies of Neo-Assyrian royal inscriptions have focused on the reconstruction of the corpus and on the use of the inscriptions as historical sources. Studies of variation in the Neo-Assyrian royal inscriptions have tended to emphasize differences between recensions of the royal inscriptions of individual kings, or the broader developments of the genre of Neo-Assyrian royal inscriptions, both of which are diachronic interests. Relatively little work has been done on synchronic variation within different manuscripts of the same composition. Moreover, numerous questions remain about the process of scribal production of the Neo-Assyrian royal inscriptions. Howard’s project studied variation between manuscripts of individual compositions within a coherent corpus of Neo-Assyrian royal inscriptions - the texts inscribed on architectural components of the Northwest Palace at Kalḫu by the scribes and artisans of Ashurnasirpal II - as a means of investigating the scribal production of those inscriptions.


Clarence Moore, Political Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison

“Tribal Alliance Behavior in Iraq"

Moore’s dissertation asks: what determines tribal alliance behavior in Iraq? The project focuses on alliances in Iraq between 2003 and 2008 and proposes that because tribal leaders resist control by outsiders and draw their authority from popular support, tribal alliance behavior is a process based on sectarian geography, coercive violence by insurgents, and civilians’ and tribal leaders’ reactions to that violence. Though academics and policy analysts agree that many Sunni Iraqi tribes had turned against militants by 2007, there is currently no explanation of why some tribes switched sides and others did not. To answer this question, Moore completed fieldwork in Amman, Jordan, using semi- structured interviews and surveys conducted with Iraqi refugees to develop a typology of violence and sort regions of Iraq according to the type and scale of violence they experienced. This information allowed Moore to assess the relationship between location, violence, and alliance behavior.


Elizabeth Rauh, History of Art, University of Michigan

“Weapons of Creation: Art Practice and Production in the Contemporary Middle East"

Rauh’s dissertation project examines how artists in the contemporary Middle East harness material and epistemic violences into productive and creative art practices, which often interrogate historical art methods and materials. Rather than historicize modern art in the Arab World and Iran as derivative or “hybrid” styles and aesthetics, she explores the material and visual elements of art objects through close formal analysis to unpack the artistic processes of modernity in the Middle East. One of the primary case studies is Iraqi artist Hanaa Malallah (b. 1958), whose work comprises a major component of my dissertation. Her monochromatic paintings (1980s-today) transform the destructive process of burning into an additive process on the canvas plane, thus revealing and reveling in the violent natures of Modernism and its colonial imbrications. Malallah’s art career attests to the dynamic Baghdad art scene while reflecting that art world’s dispersal due to ongoing warfare. The fellowship from TARII enabled Rauh to study Malallah’s artistic method collaboratively with the artist in London, while gathering vital information from her personal documents as well as herself as a living archive of the Iraqi art community and Institute of Fine Arts operating under Saddam Hussein and later foreign invasions. Her research contributes to scholarship on Iraqi art history by locating art objects and practices in their specific regional contexts, while simultaneously positioning these art works as catalysts that complicate and upend discourses and interpretations of modern art on a global scale. 

Alissa Joy Walter, History, Georgetown University

Ba'thist Baghdad: A History of Non-Elite City Life under Authoritarianism, Wars, and Sanctions"

Walter’s research presents a history of Baghdad’s lower classes as they experienced regime changes, urbanization, authoritarian governance, wars, and sanctions in post-colonial Iraq, with a focus on the Ba‘thist period (1968-2003). This is the first history of Baghdad based on the Ba‘th Party’s own files, which were acquired by the Hoover Institution and opened to the public in 2008. Centering her study on Baghdad provides insights into how government, party, and society interacted in the center of the capital city. She studied the transformations of neighborhood social institutions, including black markets, smuggling rings, charitable organizations, welfare systems, religious movements, and neighborhood committees during the tumultuous years of the Ba‘th regime. Walter’s conclusions about the social transformations of Baghdad under Ba‘th Party rule points to the long-term factors that contributed to violent societal breakdown and sectarianism post-2003. This research project is positioned to provide valuable insights to historians to understand everyday life under the Ba‘th regime as well as to political scientists who are concerned with contemporary developments in 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.