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Anthropology Lecture - Omar Dewachi

Wednesday, December 5, 2018 at 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm

Wolff Conference Room, Room D1103, Albert and Vera List Academic Center, 1103 6 East 16th Street, New York, NY 10003, Room D1103

Omar Dewachi, Associate Professor of medical anthropology at Rutgers University will deliver a lecture titled, Iraqibacter: Ecologies of War and Anthropology of Wounding.

Iraq's healthcare has been on the edge of collapse since the 1990s. Once the leading hub of scientific and medical training in the Middle East, Iraq's infrastructure has been undermined by decades of U.S.-led wars, sanctions and invasions. This has been further accentuated by the dearth of empirical knowledge about Iraq in the social sciences, which has often rendered Iraq as ungovernable in swath of scholarship. Building on my ongoing ethnographic research on wounds and wounding, I explore some of the long-term consequences of Iraq’s healthcare dismemberment. I interrogate the rise of Anti-Microbial Resistance (AMR) infections among militant and civilians injured in Iraq (and across the region) since the 2003 US-led occupation. I ask: what is revealed in the wound? And focus on the mystery of Iraqibacter, a moniker given to Acinetobacter baumannii—a superbug, defiant of most antibiotics and commonly associated with the Iraq War Veterans in the United States. I show how unravelling ethnographic, historical, and microbiological knowledge about Iraqibacter show deeper entanglements of this killer superbug in the political, social, and environmental manifestations of long-term war in the country, and its present-day fallout across the region.  

Omar Dewachi is Associate Professor of medical anthropology at Rutgers University. Prior to joining Rutgers this fall, he taught Anthropology, Social Medicine and Global Health, and is the co-founder and co-Director of the Conflict Medicine Program, at the American University of Beirut (AUB). Trained as a physician in Iraq during the 1990s, he received his doctorate in social anthropology from Harvard University in 2008. Dewachi has conducted extensive archival and ethnographic research on the human and ecological impacts of decades of Western interventions and violence in Iraq and the broader Middle East. His book with Stanford University Press (2017), Ungovernable Life: Mandatory Medicine and Statecraft in Iraq, is the first study documenting the untold story of the rise and fall of state medicine in Iraq. He is currently conducting ethnographic research on the ecologies of wounds and wounding that explores the biosocial life of war wounds and the rise of Multi-Drug Resistant Bacteria in the context of the reconfiguration of healthcare geographies across the East of the Mediterranean states. He is the author of numerous publications that have appeared in a number of medical, anthropological, and global health journals, including the Lancet. He is a long-term advisor to organizations, such as MSF and ICRC on the medical and humanitarian crisis in the region, and currently serves as a Commissioner on the Lancet Commission on Syria: Health in Conflict. 

Presented by The New School for Social Research.

Event Type

Lectures and Panel Discussions


Students, Alumni, General Public, Faculty


The New School for Social Research, Department of Anthropology



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