PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Sami Zubaida, professor emeritus of politics and sociology at Birkbeck College, London, will deliver a lecture titled “Religion, Community, and Class in Iraqi Politics and Society” on Wednesday, April 1, 2009, at 4 p.m. in List Art Center (64 College St.), Room 120. His talk is presented by the Peter Green Lectures on the Modern Middle East. It is free and open to the public.
Zubaida’s talk will address how religion and sectarianism have played varying roles in modern Iraqi history and what the future will bring. Addressing the current situation in Iraq, Zubaida believes there are two contrasting narratives: “One that sees religion and sectarian divisions to be of the essence of Iraqi society, suppressed under the Ba’th and subsequently rampant; the other insists on the erstwhile secular and nonsectarian history of modern Iraq, with the present conflicts seen as products of the current regime and/or the allied invasion of 2003.” The question, Zubaida says, is “under what conditions are sectarian and other social divisions politicized and in what manner?"
Zubaida, also a research associate of the London Middle East Institute at The School of Oriental and African Studies, has held visiting posts in Cairo, Istanbul, Berkeley, Paris and Beirut, and was global visiting professor at New York University Law School in 2006. His work focuses on religion, culture, law and politics in the Middle East, and on food and culture. He has written many articles and lectures on Iraqi politics and society. His publications include Islam, the People and the State (New Edition, 2009); A Taste of Thyme: Culinary Cultures of the Middle East (2000, co-edited with R. Tapper); Law and Power in the Islamic World (2003); and Beyond Islam (forthcoming 2010).
The Peter Green Lectures on the Modern Middle East are funded by a gift from Peter B. Green, an alumnus (A.M., 1980), parent of two Brown alumni, and trustee emeritus of the University. He is chairman of Greenaap Consultants Ltd., the Dublin-based investment vehicle that manages the assets of Green and his family.
The inaugural lecture in the series was delivered in 2008 by Ali A. Allawi, former senior minister in the post-Saddam government of Iraq and author of The Occupation of Iraq: Winning the War, Losing the Peace.