Ali Allawi: Weissberg Chair in International Studies 2010 - 2011
The noted author and former Minister of Defense of Iraq, Ali Allawi, visited campus from March 27-April 3, 2011. The week-long residency was capped by Mr. Allawi's public talk "The Future of Iraq," on Friday, April 1, at 8:00 pm in the Sanger Science Center Atrium, and by the theatrical performance "The Sounds of Desire," by Heather Raffo on Saturday, April 2 at 4:00 pm in the Neese Theater.
Ali Allawi served as the Interim Minister of Trade in the new Government of Iraq from 2003-2004\ until he was appointed the first Interim Minister of Defense of Iraq. In April 2005 Mr. Allawi was appointed Minister of Finance in the Transitional Iraqi Government. Born in Baghdad, Iraq, Mr. Allawi graduated from MIT with a BSc in Civil Engineering and continued his postgraduate studies at the London School of Economics. In 1971 he received his MBA from Harvard University. Author of The Crisis in Islamic Civilization and The Occupation of Iraq (both published by Yale University Press), he is working on a comprehensive political biography of Faisal I of Iraq, set against the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the formation of the modern state system in the Middle East and Iraq. Currently a fellow at Harvard University's Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, Mr. Allawi's residency at Beloit College will focus on issues of democracy and the role of religion in the Middle East with a specific focus on Iraq.
The Sounds of Desire
Heather Raffo, author and actress in the award-winning one-woman show 9 Parts of Desire teamed up with Iraqi santoor player Amir ElSaffar for this performance of spoken word and melodic solos. The performance included excerpts from 9 Parts of Desire, which is described as "a portrait of the extraordinary (and ordinary) lives of a whole cross-section of Iraqi women: a sexy painter, a radical Communist, doctors, exiles, wives and lovers. This work delves into the many conflicting aspects of what it means to be a woman in the age-old war zone that is Iraq. An unusually timely meditation on the ancient, the modern and the feminine in a country overshadowed by war."
The New Yorker calls Sounds of Desire "an example of how art can remake the world." Both mythical and contemporary, the women's words weave in and out of the ancient quarter tone scales of Amir's classical santoor and the improvisational heart of jazz, resulting in a melody decidedly Iraqi and American.