Lisa Blaydes, an associate professor of political science at Stanford University, gave a talk about the types of resistance and compliance that took place in Iraq during the regime of Saddam Hussein at the Von Kleinsmid Center on Monday afternoon. The lecture, which was part of a political speaker series, was hosted by the political science department at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.Blaydes is also a senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and author of the book Elections and Distributive Politics in Mubarak’s Egypt. Blaydes pointed out that much of the American viewpoint of Iraq has caused problems for the country, especially in how the American government decides whether or not to intervene and in the way they intervene in Iraqi affairs. Americans see Iraq through the lens in which the mass media has presented it, especially during Hussein’s regime in Iraq during the late 20th and early 21st century, according to Blaydes. However, not much is known about the violence within the region during that time between the different sectarian groups and Hussein’s regime. “We need to understand more about what that regime was like, and I think these documents help us understand more about the violence that followed the U.S. invasion,” Blaydes said in reference to documents obtained from Iraq after the 2003 invasion. According to Blaydes, the documents revealed an array of information about Iraq during the late 20th and early 21st century, including political party preference within each region of the country, the number of war martyrs within specific time frames, the names of “distinguished families” within each region and the number of sons they had lost during the Iraq-Iran war. The conventional narrative that has been promoted by the media cannot be assumed about sectarianism within Iraq, Blaydes said. She explained how the sources of those sectarian identities are very much a function of the experience of Iraqis under authoritarianism. Furthermore, she pointed out that there are a lot of assumptions made about the nature of sectarian identity as being more important than any other identity in Middle Eastern societies. Morris Levy, an assistant professor of political science at USC, coordinated the speaker event. “It would benefit USC students to attend these lecture series, as they cover topics that classes don’t usually get to talk about and let people know what’s going on in other places of the world,” Levy said.
Visiting professor speaks about Iraq under dictatorship