Mural in Baghdad Tahrir Square depicting Safaa Al-Saraï's face

Critical Studies of Iraq

Description of Research

Critical Studies of Iraq is a project based at the International Institute for Peace at the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Rutgers University-Newark, and led by Professor Zahra Ali.

Academia and knowledge production in Iraq have paid a harsh price due to decades of war and years of economic sanctions that deeply affected its education system from primary school to higher education. In light of the recent massive protest movements in Iraq, academics and civil society actors insist on the crucial need to foster, renew, and strengthen critical and contemporary scholarship in the fields of social sciences. This project aims to support, foster and develop critical scholarship by social scientists and feminists based in Iraq. The project addresses the structural, political and infrastructural challenges faced by Iraqi academics and researchers and the deep unevenness that constitute the global academy today.

The project involves collaborations and partnerships with academic institutions and civil society organizations in Iraq. ​​It provides support, training, and mentorship and fosters the development of a research agenda in the social sciences and in women and gender studies in Iraq. An agenda that is critical, qualitative and informed by an in-depth understanding of everyday life in Iraq and the complexity of its society.

The goal is to develop a scholarship that is meaningful for people in Iraq to sustain critical thinking, social justice and peace. The project also aims to bridge the gap between academia and the civil society, between knowledge production and knowledge use. It is designed to produce significant publications in publicly accessible journals and online platforms that will grant visibility and impact to scholarship and scholars based in Iraq.


Contributing NCAS Faculty

Zahra Ali
Zahra Ali
Assistant Professor

Additional Contributors

Khaled Al Hilli (Project Coordinator)