Salford Uni organizes Iraq conference

DEBATE: Dr Berger believes more talk about Western influence in Iraq is need

By Will Astbury

THE UNIVERSITY of Salford is organizing a conference that will discuss how Western actions have affected Iraq.

The conference, titled ‘Values, Interests and Security Concerns in Western Policies toward Iraq and the Wider Region, 1918-2010’, will look at how Western powers have attempted to alter power in the Middle East twice in the last hundred years.

Speaking to Manchester Mouth, conference co-organizer Dr Lars Berger, lecturer in politics and contemporary history of the Middle East at the University of Salford, said: “This conference is rather unique in its successful attempt to bring together area studies specialists with those who focus on particular Western actors (US, UK, EU).

“My colleagues and I decided to organize this conference because we thought that there was not enough debate across the boundaries of specific academic disciplines when it comes to the relationship between the Western world and the Middle East.”

Aimed at academics, students and professionals, the conference will analyse the influence of regional and outside powers.

Prof Charles Tripp, of the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, and Prof Erik Goldstein, from Boston University, have been chosen for key note speakers at the conference.

Reflecting the overall conference theme, political scientists and historians will be assessing the foreign policies of important external powers towards Iraq.

To avoid a completely Western-centric perspective the conference will also feature talks from prominent Iraqi commentators Dr Muaffaq al-Rubaie and Dr Mouyad al-Windawi and will look at influential domestic Iraqi political actors.

Dr Berger said: “We are extremely pleased with our success in recruiting a number of high-profile Iraqi speakers such as former national security adviser Muawaffaq al-Rubaie.

“The strong presence of academics and practitioners who focus on various
Middle Eastern actors will allow us to overcome the “tunnel-vision” of
other analyses which look at these relationships from a purely British
or American perspective.”

There will also be lectures from Prof Eric Davis, of Rutgers University, Prof Isam al-Kafaji from Amsterdam and Dr Reidar Visser, of Norwegian Institute of International Affairs.

The conference will take place from 9am on Wednesday 17 March 2010 to 5pm on Friday 19 March 2010 at the British Academy, Carlton House Terrace, London SW1.

Places are limited but if you would like to book your place at the conference, price yet unkown, contact Dr Berger via l.berger@salford.ac.uk or 01612956795.

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