Iraqi women’s experiences of war and survival

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Presenter:  Dr Fatin Shabbar,Research and Teaching Academic, University of South Australia (UniSA).

Date: Sep 22, 2016

Time: 5:00pm to 6:00pm

Contact person:  School of Health, CDU
T: (08) 8946 6089

Location:  CDU Casuarina Blue 5.1.01

Abstract: The victimized image of the so called ‘third world’ female subject, trapped helplessly in the brutal effects of war and patriarchy, is remarkably familiar to the western imagination and discourse. Our memory of the US invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq is almost overwhelmed by images of weeping women and girls who appear imprisoned in their cycle of suffering. In focusing on Iraqi women, my research explores the everyday stories of survival as lived through religious and cultural experiences. Challenging dominant representations of Iraqi women as ‘victims’ and ‘sufferers’, my research emphasizes that living through war is a complex experience that extends beyond mere suffering. While suffering is an inevitable aspect of Iraqi women’s life, the ability to continue to live and keep going, in spite of daily trauma, is extraordinarily powerful and calls for a deeper understanding of women’s survival experiences during war and political conflict. As such, being able to continue to live while suffering is an ‘achievement’ that should not be regarded as ordinary. Therefore, and instead of conceptualising Iraqi women as either victims or heroes, my research builds on alternative ways of thinking that acknowledge the inter-relationship between vulnerability and resilience.

Biography: Dr Fatin Shabbar is a research and teaching academic at the University of South Australia (UniSA). She teaches a variety of psychology and social work courses in the School of Psychology, Social Work and Social Policy and is a Post-doctoral Research Associate with the Centre for Social Change at UniSA. In addition to her academic work, Dr Shabbar is a practising social worker specializing in counselling. She is also the Secretary-General of Iraqi Women’s Voice of South Australia. Dr Shabbar has presented and published widely in the area of gender & war; women in political conflicts and militarization; trauma & survival; Iraq & Middle Eastern politics; Arab families, cultures & societies; Islam & Muslim women in the west; postcolonial Feminism; cultural diversity; storytelling & narrative research methodologies.