New research and teaching agreement with Mustansiriyah University, Iraq

Exciting new avenues for future collaborative oral history projects and research have been opened that build on the work of the Collective.  

On the 20th and the 21st of February 2024, a delegation from Mustansiriyah University, Iraq, visited Newcastle University to sign a new research and teaching agreement. 

Members of the Collective played a key part in facilitating the signing of a new research and teaching agreement between Newcastle University and Mustansiriyah University. Mustansiriyah University, located in Baghdad, is one of the biggest universities in Iraq, and already shares medical research projects with Newcastle. This recent agreement will open new possibilities, with oral historians from both universities working on joint ventures, including newly designed oral history courses and cooperative research initiatives.  

The Iraqi delegation included Professor Tareq Hashim Abbood (Dean of the College of Arts), Dr. Mohammed Kadhim Ghafil (Head of the Department of Translation), Assistant Professor Alaa Fadhil Ahmed Al-Ameri (Head of the History Department) and Dr Mohammed Sameer, (Head of Research Committee and a lecturer with the University of Baghdad). 

Over the two-day visit, several research roundtables were held with the delegates and Newcastle colleagues. This built on earlier exchanges that discussed potential project ideas from our colleagues in Iraq and how we might cooperate in teaching and research supervision. 

The in-person roundtables included inputs from undergraduate students, postgraduate researchers, associate researchers, and teaching and research staff. From these roundtables, several broad areas of interest in oral history emerged, which were in turn refined into new project ideas. Some areas of mutual interest were identified such as women’s history, with links to Joe Redmayne’s project on Women in Shipbuilding, the history of environment and place, with input from projects such as Living Deltas and our work in India; and histories of healthcare and technology, including Ally Keane’s research on augmented and alternative communication. Broader themes surrounding post-conflict, rural history, labour and migration, and digital curation and archiving, based on Hannah Janes Louwerse’s research also emerged.  

Contact was first made between Professor Graham Smith and Professor Tareq Hashim Abbood at a Gertrude Bell Exhibition in 2023, and in subsequent discussions, the role of post-memory, particularly in reference to the life and legacy of Bell also emerged.  

The Iraqi delegates were also taken on a historic tour of Newcastle by Associate Researcher Silvie Firch, and on a tour of the University by an undergraduate global ambassador. The city tour introduced our guests to the community-based projects that have involved Silvie and Jack Hepworth who also spoke about our public history teaching. Their visit concluded with lunch and the MoU signing between Professor Tareq Hashim Abbood and Professor Nigel Harkness on the second day.  

We look forward to further exchanges with our colleagues from Baghdad and are excited for the emergence of innovative ideas and projects in oral history.  

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