Grant TypeHunt Postdoctoral Fellowship
Institutional AffiliationFranklin and Marshall College
Grant numberGr. 10049
Approve DateOctober 2, 2020
Project TitleGuarasci, Bridget (Franklin and Marshall College) "Warzone Ecologies: Iraq's Marshes on the Battlefields of War"
The Hunt Fellowship will support the completion of a book manuscript, “Warzone Ecologies: Restoring the Marshes on the Battlegrounds of War.” Iraq’s marshes were once three interlinked wetlands that gave rise to Sumerian civilization and human history. In 1991 Saddam Hussein drained the marshes after an uprising that began there nearly deposed him. Based on more than 15 years of ethnographic research, the most concentrated period of which I conducted in 2006-2007, this book profiles the Iraqi exiles, US government representatives, foreign donors, oil and water multinationals, global environmental agencies, and Iraqi national scientists who mobilized after the 2003 US invasion and occupation of Iraq to restore and conserve Iraq’s marshes in order to make them emblematic of the new, post-Ba‘ath state they wished to build. The manuscript begins with the argument that biodiversity conservation is not benign. Rather, conservation’s chief objectives of controlling territory and managing population made it realizable as a technology of war. The manuscript demonstrates how conservation served the competing interests of corporations and environmentalists at once, making marshes conservation “the success story of the war.” The manuscript contributes to anthropology a more expansive understanding of wartime violence by elucidating a central technique of violence innovated during the Iraq war, the orchestration of war to mask its violent infrastructure as a redemptive act, biodiversity conservation.