Thanks to generous new funding, the Nahrein Network is able to continue its mission until 2031. Read about our plans for this next phase of work, which will begin later in 2021.
Huge new threats to Iraq’s future have emerged in past few years, while the old ones have not gone away. The economy is still heavily dependent on oil. Post-Da’esh reconstruction has been frustratingly slow. Iraq's political system is as fragile as ever, while poverty, gender inequalities, and youth unemployment remain endemic. Meanwhile, damming, oil extraction, and global climate heating are destroying the environment. At the same time, Covid-19 threatens to overwhelm fragile state structures and further accelerate the rapid rate of demographic change. There has never been a greater need for big, bold responses to these intractable challenges.
Over the next ten years, the Nahrein Network will extend its work with Iraqi academics and cultural heritage professionals to tackle these problems. Working with well-established partnerships and creating new ones, we aim to support research and policy on:
- an integrated approach to natural and cultural heritage;
- youth-focused solutions, both within and outside the state;
- reparative approaches to the past, inspired by the work of UCL History’s Centre for Study of the Legacies of British Slave-Ownership.
We will retain the same basic operating principles and practices, and build on the considerable successes of our AHRC-GCRF-funded work since 2017. Two-thirds of the budget is committed to supporting Iraqi-led research in Iraq and the UK. The rest will cover UK staff and support costs.
What we will do
Supporting Iraqi colleagues' research
- Research Grants Scheme. We will continue to offer a range of grants to support Iraqi-led research on the ways in which heritage, history and the humanities can improve life in Iraq.
- Visiting Scholarships. When the course of the pandemic permits, we will re-open the scheme to bring Iraqi heritage professionals and academics to the UK for two-month placements.
- Research Workshops. Building on the success of our British Academy funded Iraq Publishing Workshops in 2019, we will further develop online and in-person training for early career academics in Iraq.
- Graduate Studentships. We will be offering a small number of MA+PhD studentships, covering the full costs of graduate study in a history or heritage related subject at UCL.
- Research Networks. We will continue to foster the development of disciplinary research networks in Iraq, including the highly successful Kurdish Cultural Heritage Network.
Please follow our social media for upates and guidance as these schemes are launched over the course of the coming year.
Furthering our own research
Our strong core team will remain together, continuing our own individual research programmes:
- Dr Rozhen Mohammed-Amin, Director of the Digital Cultural Heritage Centre at Sulaimani Polytechnic University, has been funded to continue her team's groundbreaking research on the roles of digital technologies in enhancing the emotional impact of heritage.
- Dr Jaafar Jotheri, Vice-Dean and Assistant Professor of Archaeology at the University of Al-Qadisiyah, receives funding to research and record the built and social heritage of the cities of Diwaniyah and Samawah in southern Iraq. His team uses a human-centred approach that underlines the importance of people and their relationships to the surrounding cultural environment in which they live and work.
- Dr Mehiyar Kathem, Research Associate at University College London, will continue his highly influential research and policy consultancy on the politics of heritage, statebuilding and peace-building in Iraq.
- Dr Paul Collins, Jalah Hearn Keeper of the Ancient Middle East at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, will further develop his research and practice in decolonising museums' use of Iraqi heritage, as exemplified in his current exhibition, Owning the Past.
- Professor Eleanor Robson, Professor of Ancient Middle Eastern History at UCL, will continue her collaboration with The Open Richly Annotated Cuneiform Corpus and UCL's Research Software Development Group to develop Arabic-language tools for online, open-access publication, research and education on the cuneiform cultures of ancient Iraq and its neighbours.
Governance and administration
The Network will continue to run day-to-day from the History Department at UCL, where the Director Professor Eleanor Robson, Deputy Director Dr Mehiyar Kathem, and Administrator Ms Oana Borlea are based. It also has three Co-Directors: Dr Paul Collins at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford; Dr Rozhen Mohammed-Amin at the Digital Heritage Unit in Sulaimani Polytechnic University, and Dr Jaafar Jotheri at the Faculty of Archaeology at Qadisiyah University.
Over the next few months the team will grow to include a part-time Communications and Social Media Officer and a full-time postdoctoral Research Associate in the UK, as well an Administrator/Project Manager in Iraq.
The core team is overseen by a Management Committee, which meets every three months. The committee includes representatives from the AHRC, the Network’s main partners in Iraq, and UK-based academics in the field. Large research grant applications are peer-reviewed by members of the Management Committee and co-opted experts. Visiting Scholarship applications are assessed by a panel including representatives from its partners. The Network will continue to report annually to the AHRC and adhere closely to its principles and practices.
We are hugely grateful to the private donor whose vision and generosity allows us to continue this vital work. The gift has been thoroughly vetted by UCL and the Network's activities will still be serviced as if they were sponsored research. We remain completely committed to working ethically, transparently and fairly.