City of Widows: An Iraqi Woman’s Account

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Date/Time: 31/03/2008 12:00 am

Book Reading and Discussion: City of Widows: An Iraqi Woman’s Account
of War and Resistance by Haifa Zangana
in collaboration with
Alwan for the Arts
Monday, March 31, 2008 7:00 P.M.
Free and Open to the Public
In 1958, when Haifa Zangana was just eight years old, Iraqis flooded
the streets in celebration of their hard-won freedom from British
colonial rule, which had begun in 1917.
Zangana then came of age in one of the most open societies in the
Middle Eastbut it was shut down in the 1970s by the tyrannical yet
secular Baath party. Joining in armed struggle against Saddam
Hussein, Zangana was captured, imprisoned, and tortured as a young
woman, and finally released from Abu Ghraib prison after six months
of detention. She was forced to live in exile, and has ever since.
In City Widows: An Iraqi Womans Account of War and Resistance (Seven
Stories Press; November 15, 2007; $20), Zangana tells the story of her
country, from the early twentieth century through the US/UK invasion
and the current occupation. She brings to light a sense of Iraq as a
society mainly of secularists who have been denied, through years of
sanctions, war, and occupation, a system within which to build the
country according to their own values. She discusses how the
alternative brewing beneath the surface of the Baath regime was not
sectarianism, but rather fringe components that have been fueled and
funded by the occupation, which has destroyed civil and state systems
to contain these radical groups.
Zangana considers how womens status has been changing over the last
one hundred years, how women have organized themselves within and
outside political parties, social, and cultural institutions, and how
NGOs since the 2003 invasion have promoted a colonial feminism that is
irrelevant to Iraqi women today. Finally, she writes about Baghdad as
a city populated by bereaved women and children who have lost their
loved ones and their land, but who are still emboldened by the native
right to resist and liberate themselves to create an independent Iraq.
HAIFA ZANGANA is an Iraqi political commentator, and novelist. She is
a weekly columnist for al-Quds newspaper and a commentator for The
Guardian, Red Pepper, and al-Ahram Weekly. She lives in London.
While American viceroys, eager to get the oil-profits flowing,
traded human rights (especially women’s rights), for a phony promise
of security, women like Haifa Zangana were pointing out that you
can’t have national security without women’s security. Doing deals
with theocratic warlords is no way to build security, they said. And
they were right. We’d have been better off if we’d heard Zangana
then. We should listen to her now.Laura Flanders, host of Radio
Nation on Air America
Alwan for the Arts
16 Beaver (between Broad and Broadway) 4th Floor New York, NY 10004
Tel.: 212 967 4318 Fax: 212 967 4326 info@alwanforthearts.org
TRAINS: 4, 5 to Bowling Green J/M/Z to Broad St. R,W to Whitehall
St.1 to Rector St. or South Ferry 2, 3 to Wall St. A, C line to
BUSES: M1, M6, M9, M16, M20.
BIKE: Hudson Rvr. Greenway, East Rvr. path, Liberty St., Broadway,
Water St.
AREA MAPS AT: http://tinyurl.com/e8

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