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Ruptured Domesticity: mapping spaces of refuge in Iraq

Hosted by LSE Arts

Atrium Gallery, Old Building

How do people who have experienced war, trauma and loss, create spaces of refuge in violated homes and cities? Twenty years after the invasion of Iraq, Dr Sana Murrani maps a visual archive exploring the ingenious everyday spatial practices of 15 Iraqis from the north to the south of the country between 2003 and 2020.

Ruptured Domesticity examines the domestic and intimate spaces of refuge created by Iraqis in preparation for, and in response to, wartime and violence. This exhibition will display images consisting of photographs, illustrative maps and drawings depicting ruptured spaces of refuge.

The pieces displayed in this exhibition were created by Dr Sana Murrani as part of British Institute for the Study of Iraq-funded fieldwork for her forthcoming book Rupturing architecture: spatial practices of refuge in response to war and violence in Iraq (Bloomsbury, 2024). 

Through research-based spatial practice, Murrani’s project adopts a mixed methods approach combining archival material, textual analysis, storytelling through interviews with Iraqis living in Iraq, exile/diaspora, and those on the borders in camps, and case studies of architectural buildings and events. The project engages with Iraqis’ constant spatial struggle with trauma, revealing their influence and creativity in shaping new design and spatial practices that could potentially influence post-war and conflict structures of living and refuge.

The project covers the period between the 2003 US-led invasion through to the sectarian violence between 2006 and 2007, ISIS’s atrocities against the Yazidi community in the northwest of Iraq and Mosul in 2014, up until the 2019 revolution culminating with the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 and the peak of the political turmoil in Iraq. The project maps a visual archive of narratives of lived experiences of war, acknowledging Iraqis’ spatial creativity.

A digital archive of the maps will go live on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq and then be physically exhibited at the London School of Economics accompanied by a public talk on the opening night of the exhibition.

More about the exhibition

Dr Sana Murrani is Associate Professor in Spatial Practice and Architecture at the University of Plymouth.

This exhibition is hosted by the LSE Middle East Centre. The Centre provides a central hub for the wide range of research on the Middle East and North Africa carried out at LSE.

Just economics and politics? Think again.  While LSE does not teach arts or music, there is a vibrant cultural side to the School - from weekly free music concerts in the Shaw Library, and an LSE orchestra and choir with their own professional conductors, various film, art and photographic student societies, the annual LSE photo prize competition, the LSE Festival and artist-in-residence projects. For more information please view the LSE Arts website.


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