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by Eric Davis
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  • Author:
    Eric Davis
  • ISBN:
    0520235460
  • ISBN13:
    978-0520235465
  • Genre:
  • Publisher:
    University of California Press; First edition (February 28, 2005)
  • Pages:
    397 pages
  • Subcategory:
    Americas
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    1953 kb
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    1834 kb
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    1231 kb
  • Rating:
    4.1
  • Votes:
    928
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The result is an innovative and multi-layered analysis that is a pleasure to read. While Memories of State will be of lasting value to academics and historians wishing to understand the evolution and deterioration of Iraq's intelligentsia, its dense academic prose undercuts its utility.

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Davis’s eighth chapter ("Memories of State and the Arts of Resistance") is one of the most interesting in the book; here . In the final chapter Davis takes us though the dismal 1990s and early 2000s.

Davis’s eighth chapter ("Memories of State and the Arts of Resistance") is one of the most interesting in the book; here he tries to show how "official" history was written and formulated. He shows how Ba‘thist ideology (the thought of Michel ‘Aflaq) never attracted much interest among Iraqi intellectuals, and that many former members of the "democratic Left" had been co-opted by the regime. Here again, he tries to work his usual magic of making gold out of base metal, in this case criticizing the "negative and pessimistic tone" of "post-Gulf-War interpretations of Iraqi politics.

Modern integral states not only possess the means to promote particular understandings of the past and present of a collective, but also the legally sanctioned means to use violence to punish those who disagree (Davis 2005.

Modern integral states not only possess the means to promote particular understandings of the past and present of a collective, but also the legally sanctioned means to use violence to punish those who disagree (Davis 2005:5). Yet also regarding the 5 This goes back to Weber's connection of the type of claims which are made by rulers with a particular 'mode. Iraq's long and complex past has played a particularly poignant role in establishing and legitimating the various political movements that have ascended to power since the nation state was first created by the British in the early 1920s (Davis, 2005b).

of State : Politics, History, and Collective Identity in Modern Iraq.

Memories of State : Politics, History, and Collective Identity in Modern Iraq. Despite being securely entrenched in power and having suppressed all political opposition, the Ba'thist regime that ruled Iraq from 1968 to 2003 still felt the need to engage in a massive rewriting of the nation's history and cultural heritage-in both its high and popular forms.

Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005. What is the relationship between state power and historical memory? Eric Davis argues that the focus on overt state repression that has dominated studies of Iraq overlooks the state's use of historical memory as a mechanism of control. Employing a Gramscian model, he examines how successive Iraqi regimes have sought to use historical memory to claim legitimacy and authenticity and thus undermine political challengers.

New York: Berghahn Books, 2002). Memories of State: Politics, History, and Collective Identity in Modern Iraq by Eric Davis. Contemporary Sociology. Institutionalizing the Past: Shifting Memories of Nationhood in German Education and Immigration Legislation" with Julian Dierkes in Mueller, Jan Werner (e. Memory and Power in International Relations. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2003). The Politicization of Ethnic German Immigrants: The Transformation of State Priorities" in Münz, Rainer and Rainer Ohliger (ed. (London: Frank Cass Pu. 2003).

Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2005.

Memories of State: Politics, History, and Collective Identity in Modern Iraq. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2005.

In Memories of State, Eric Davis focuses upon the processes of nation and state formation in modern Iraq - processes, Davis argues, that "are ongoing and incomplete because Iraqis have yet to agree upon a commonly accepted.

In Memories of State, Eric Davis focuses upon the processes of nation and state formation in modern Iraq - processes, Davis argues, that "are ongoing and incomplete because Iraqis have yet to agree upon a commonly accepted model of political community" (p. 2). He contends that this failure to construct a "viable model of political community" explains the country's seemingly perennial political an. Indeed, many words have been written on exactly these themes by an ever-increasing number of authors.

The result is an innovative and multi-layered analysis that is a pleasure to read

Despite being securely entrenched in power and having suppressed all political opposition, the Ba'thist regime that ruled Iraq from 1968 to 2003 still felt the need to engage in a massive rewriting of the nation's history and cultural heritage―in both its high and popular forms. As this book makes clear, the regime's effort to restructure understandings of the past was an attempt to expunge a powerful tendency in the Iraqi nationalist movement that advocated cultural pluralism, political participation, and social justice. Based on interviews with Iraqi intellectuals under the regime of Saddam Husayn, and with Iraqi expatriates and on publications from Iraq both before and during Ba'thist rule, Memories of State is an eye-opening look at one of the most important and misunderstood countries in the Middle East. This timely study also asks what the possibilities are for promoting civil society and a transition to democratic rule in post-Ba'thist Iraq.

Anyshoun
In a publishing atmosphere saturated by instant Iraq experts, Rutgers University political scientist Davis presents a rare work of careful scholarship. Memories of State examines the intellectual tyranny of the Baath in Iraq, tracing its efforts to undue the cultural pluralism which once characterized Iraqi society.

Davis begins by describing how Ottoman reform, Iranian constitutionalism, and nascent Arab nationalism combined to shape an Iraqi intelligentsia. With time--and especially after independence--the Arab nationalist trend gained strength. Intellectual Iraq was not homogenous, though. While Shi'ite intellectual life was vibrant, it oriented itself more around the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala and toward Iran than to the nascent state.

While it would be an exaggeration to call Iraqi political culture tolerant, its early years were marked by cultural pluralism. Not only Muslims but also Jews and Christians participated in state and society. This political culture began to fracture in the 1930s. By allying themselves with the military, which they saw as a force to impose reform, Iraqi progressives opened a Pandora's box of coups and instability. Pan-Arabists gained strength in the years prior to World War II, and cultural pluralism deteriorated. Nazi propaganda permeated society. The Jewish community never recovered after the 1940 farhud (pogrom) in Baghdad.

While minority communities became detached from the Iraqi mainstream, there was still dynamic political debate. Davis traces the development of the war of ideas between Arab nationalists and communists. Using a wide variety of Arabic sources drawn from field research in Iraqi archives and libraries, Davis traces the newspapers and books that influenced society and politics. He reaches into the roots of intellectual life at the time, even detailing specific coffeehouses where writers would discuss and debate their ideas.

While the 1958 revolution sparked political and civic activity, the 1968 Baathist coup curtailed it. The intellectual chill was not instantaneous, though. Davis examines how the Baathist regime moved to co-opt Iraq's intelligentsia and brainwash its youth. He surveys books, newspapers, literary journals, and even graphic art to show how the Iraqi regime sought to promote Sunni Arab nationalism. A wide array of photographs of everything from models at Iraqi fashion shows to Saddam's monumental architecture help illustrate Davis' arguments.

The chapter on "Memories of State and the Arts of Resistance," is particularly strong. In it, Davis details the subtle academic censorship exerted by the Ministry of Culture. Baathist bureaucrats okayed the publication of lackluster theses on esoteric topics but refused to print award-winning anthropological studies of Iraqi tribes, for these latter acknowledged a diversity that the Baath party did not wish to recognize. Iraq's once rich poetic tradition narrowed into a celebration of Arab nationalism. The survey of Iraqi newspaper content in the 1990s shows how stilted Iraq's once rich discourse had become.

While Memories of State will be of lasting value to academics and historians wishing to understand the evolution and deterioration of Iraq's intelligentsia, its dense academic prose undercuts its utility. Readers are saddled with long asides about contrasting theories of "historical memory," "Gramscian notions of hegemony," and other examples of unnecessary obfuscation.

Michael Rubin

Middle East Quarterly

Summer 2007
Erienan
Superb book